As an undergraduate at MIT, Robert Horvitz did not take a biology course until his senior year. But after only six weeks into his first class with professor Cy Leventhal, he realized this was the field for him. He boldly asked for a recommendation as part of his application to graduate school — in biology.
“Is it too late?” he wanted to know.
Professor Leventhal explained that his own undergraduate and graduate degrees had been in physics and that Horvitz would, in fact, be “starting early.”
“Basic research, discovery-oriented research, can be very fundamentally important in a variety of ways — it’s interesting and intellectually satisfying and I think that’s what drives many researchers. It’s from such basic research that unexpected discoveries come. And it’s these unexpected discoveries that are the big leaps. Basic research is really the driver of scientific knowledge.” — H. Robert Horvitz