“Spotlight Series” is a group of posts designed to introduce you to the other members of the science team on the research expedition. Each scientist and his/her research will be featured – I provided the prompts and the scientists added their own information. Feel free to ask questions about what they are studying and how they became interested in science!
Jeff Hoffman works for the J. Craig Venter Institute (www.jcvi.org) and travels the world sampling water and extracting microbial DNA. He is originally from New Orleans.
What is your field of study? The samples I take are for extracting DNA – I take water from wherever we are and extract DNA, looking at different organisms around the world. The information goes into a piblic database that is accessible by everyone and is used for various research purposes, for example, alternative energy, cancer research, and synthetic biology. I mainly look at microbial diversity in waters around the world. The DNA is extracted from the water samples then goes to the sequencing facility, where different scientists look at it.
Where have you been sampling? It’s easier to list where I haven’t been. From 2004-2006, we did a circumnavigation around the world on Craig Venter’s boat, Sorcerer II. We mostly stayed on the equator and went around the world – including the Panama Canal, French Polynesia, Vanuatu, Australia, South Africa, and the Caribbean.
From 2006-2009, I traveled up and down the East and West Coasts of the US. On the East Coast, we went as far north at Nantucket, and on the West, up to Juneau, Alaska.
After 2009, we did a couple summers in Europe, in the Baltic and Mediterranean. I’ve also been to Antarctica 5 times and, in February, I went to the Amazon River.
How did you become interested in science? I never wanted to wear a suit and tie, and science was the way to go. It’s always interested me in high school and college. I was pre-med but preferred to be in the lab.
Educational background: I did my undergraduate degree at LSU (Louisiana State University) in microbiology with a minor in psychology. I also completed my masters at LSU in microbiology.
Plans for the future: I have another trip planned to the Amazon River in September and Antarctica in December.
Back to Ms. B:
How cool is Mr. Hoffman’s job?
Mr. Hoffman’s work with the J. Craig Venter Institute becomes public knowledge – demonstrating that scientific achievement and knowledge should always be shared. It doesn’t do much good to keep scientific information a secret!
Until next time,