The Science Guild

Turn back the wheels of time to the medieval age when knights, kings, and guilds roamed the lands. Through all the endless faults of that societal architecture, the guild system is one I view in high esteem. In essence, the elder craftspeople take it upon themselves to train the next generation, passing on their knowledge and wisdom, hoping that they will surpass the skill of those who came before. Then when the next generation’s time comes, they train the next generation up, and so on.

There’s something romantic and encouraging about this form of training and fellowship. The wonderful thing about science is that it is one of the few aspects of modernity that retains this guild system. Students in universities work together under the tutelage of some of the brightest minds in their respective fields, then working in labs and companies under more of those minds, gaining knowledge and wisdom. Then, when their time comes, they will do the same for the next generation of scientists to come.

Many of the scientists working intensively to discover treatments and vaccines for Covid-19 are my former colleagues and students and students of my students. I had the privilege to help lay the foundation for their scientific minds, and it is my great honor to watch them flourish.

To make a discovery, large or small, is a remarkable feat. We have been on this Earth for so long, but there is still so much left for us to learn. When one of my students or scientific grandchildren makes one of these discoveries, it brings me great joy to be apart of that journey.

I am the scientific grandson of some great scientists who trained great scientists, among them several Nobel Prize winners, who then trained my first mentor, George Pimentel of UC Berkeley, and four more Nobel Prize winners and mentors: Jim Watson, Wally Gilbert, David Baltimore, and Baruj Benacerraf. I am privileged to have worked under their guidance, it was a privilege to pass that knowledge to the generations that followed me, and I greatly anticipate the promise of a brighter future.

This blog is one in a series showcasing some of the stories that are included in my autobiography: My Lifelong Fight Against Disease. Available for purchase here.

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.