Reactions – Aaron Wright

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Aaron Wright is in the Fundamental & Computational Sciences Directorate at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and works on the development of chemical proteomics to facilitate myriad biological investigations.

1. What made you want to be a chemist?

When I was about 10 years old I received my first chemistry kit. I distinctly remember being fascinated by the changes elicited by mixing two or more chemicals together. Of course, I didn’t really understand what caused the changes, but it piqued my interest. Later, in high school, I had probably the best chemistry teacher of my life, who fostered my interest in the field, and helped direct me toward a future in chemistry.

2. If you weren’t a chemist and could do any other job, what would it be – and why?

A landscape designer/architect. I love working in the yard, whether it is mowing the lawn, weeding the garden, or completely renovating some part of the landscape.

3. What are you working on now, and where do you hope it will lead?

We are working in several diverse areas all incorporating chemical and activity-based proteomics. This includes utilizing the excellent mass spectrometry instrumentation and informatics available at PNNL to perform chemical proteomics in novel ways. Currently, our work is spread across research into subcellular fractionation, tuberculosis, microbial communities, and a smidge in biofuels.

4. Which historical figure would you most like to have dinner with – and why?

Martin Luther King, Jr. There are only a few individuals in history who have so resolutely stood upon their convictions and faith to bring about change for so many while their life was in constant danger. I imagine I could learn a lot over a dinner with him.

5. When was the last time you did an experiment in the lab – and what was it?

I performed a microscale vacuum distillation to purify a product from a reaction yesterday.

6. If exiled on a desert island, what one book and one music album would you take with you?

If exiled on an island I’d want my Bible; I wouldn’t feel so deserted with it along. As for a music album, probably the best of Johnny Cash.

7. Which chemist would you like to see interviewed on Reactions?

Lei Zhu at Florida State University.