Really Really Really Smart

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One of the fringe benefits of my job is meeting people I wouldn’t normally have the chance to in my everyday social circle. I photographed Joe DeRisi for VSA. VSA designs the HHMI Bulletin – a custom publication for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Joe DeRisis is a Molecular Biologist at UCSF. In 2004 he was granted the MacArthur Fellowship Genius award. So – he’s super smart.

He was very easy going and seemingly unencumbered by the gravity of his stature. We started with a tour of his lab. I made a remark about how there was no way I would understand what any of his gear does. He pointed to a machine the size of a mini-refrigerator and said,”You will understand this.” It was a 3D printer. I didn’t know these things exist. It makes things out of ABS plastic – literally. It can make a functioning adjustable wrench, and that has internal moving parts! I thought he was kidding. It felt like I was looking at a piece of science fiction. Here it is in action.

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