Rock star of the scientific world

Rock star of the scientific world
Professor Daniela Rhodes of the Nanyang Technological University's School of Biological Sciences and Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine.

SINGAPORE - Nanyang Technological University (NTU) president Bertil Andersson has never been shy about the fact that he knows a Nobel Prize winner or two.

At a recent dinner, Professor Daniela Rhodes - who is with the NTU's School of Biological Sciences and Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine - decided to playfully upstage him.

"I told him that there were five Nobel Prize winners working along the same corridor in my old lab," says the 67-year-old Italian-born scientist.

Before joining NTU two years ago, she worked at the world renowned Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC-LMB) in Britain for 42 years.

But she was no mousy scientist in a lab coat, she had him know.

"I told him I used to party with David Gilmour," she says, referring to the guitarist and vocalist of legendary rock band Pink Floyd. Another Pink Floyd vocalist and guitarist Syd Barrett lived 50m from her in Cambridge.

Upon hearing this, Prof Andersson - the former chief executive of the Strasbourg-headquartered European Science Foundation - dramatically dropped to his knees in mock obeisance.

As she recounts the tale, Prof Rhodes' girlish laughter echoes in her spartan office at the end of a lab-filled corridor at Biopolis. In the world of science, she is a rock star. Internationally recognised for contributions to the area of chromosome biology, she is a fellow of The Royal Society of Britain, considered the most prestigious accolade after the Nobel Prize.

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