card
096

Rob DeSalle

OLogy Series
ologist
card
096

Rob DeSalle

OLogy Series
ologist

In college, Rob DeSalle wanted to study the narwhal, an Arctic whale with an eight-foot spiral tooth. His professor suggested that the best way to learn about this unusual animal would be to study its genetics. This advice led Rob to a career in molecular biology. Today at the American Museum of Natural History, he runs a genetics lab and designs exhibits.

What is Rob's favorite tool in his genetics lab?

the DNA sequencer

the electron microscope

the CD player

Are you right?

Correct!

While scientific tools are certainly important, Rob believes that the lab atmosphere should be enjoyable. He is constantly asking his students, "Are you having fun?"

Rob studies the DNA from fish eggs (also known as caviar) because the DNA:

is worth millions of dollars

tastes really good sprinkled over ice cream

can tell us if the eggs were from an endangered fish

Are you right?

Correct!

Eating fish eggs may sound yucky, but some people love them. Rob can take the DNA from fish eggs and see what kind of fish the eggs came from. Recently he found some illegal caviar -- it came from an endangered species of fish!

Rob DeSalle

Studying biology is like traveling back in time. I can use genetics to figure out the kinds of creatures that lived thousands of years ago.

Rob DeSalle wrote a book about how to bring back extinct dinosaurs using samples of ancient DNA.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Rob's book explains how DNA breaks down over time. Extinct dinosaurs lived long ago, so any dinosaur DNA we might find would probably be incomplete.

Rob DeSalle
Date of Birth: May 4, 1954
Hometown: Springfield, IL
Position: molecular biologist at the American Museum of Natural History
Education: B.A., University of Chicago; Ph.D., Washington University
Position: molecular biologist at the American Museum of Natural History
Known for: using genetics to help endangered species

Image credits: courtesy of Denis Finnin, AMNH; Rob DeSalle: courtesy of Denis Finnin, AMNH.