Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Flash from the Present: " I just had no interest in conforming to the proper behavior..."

We ran across this interview with Peter Agre, Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry. His autobiography touches on some of the complex paths for some talented, but restless young people.

Excerpt:

"I kind of intentionally flaunted being not a good student in Chemistry since my father was a professor in Chemistry and I had no intention of finishing that course because it wasn't required. It was interesting that this D in Chemistry was something came up after I won the Nobel Prize (in Chemistry). I mentioned this just once to a reporter, immediately it was everywhere. The sense is: he couldn't do any better than that? Well, my answer is that, if I tried hard, I could have gotten a C. (laugh) I knew a lot of chemistry, but I just had no interest in conforming to the proper behavior. We had an underground newspaper. I think sometimes children from very traditional families; we have this term "act out". Parents want the child to be perfect; the child is always making his own trouble. It was something like that.

The college I went to is a modest college, it is not as selective. It is not like Duke or UNC, where there are a lot of top students. It is for average students. It was a little humiliating in that sense. I knew I had the ability but I didn't have the performance. But it was a wake up call. The wake up call was that arrogance is a very bad trait. If you want to be stuck in kind of a mediocre situation, then go ahead and be arrogant. To really achieve something requires a lot of organization and commitment. "


Nobel Laureate Peter Agre elaborates on life and science, interview

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