NHGRI's Oral History Collection
Erich Jarvis, Ph.D., is a professor and head of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics of Language at the Rockefeller University. Dr. Jarvis’ lab, which is part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, investigates the neurogenomics of complex traits such as vocal learning in animals, specifically in song-learning birds. Dr. Jarvis is an accomplished dancer who, at an early age, pivoted away from a career in the arts and towards science. In this oral history interview, Dr. Jarvis discusses his early life as a dancer, how the arts has guided his work as a scientist, how he came to his groundbreaking research on vocal learning in animals and how his work has been impacted by the completion of the Human Genome Project and subsequent rapid developments in genome sequencing technologies. Dr. Jarvis also shares some profound insights into how his family’s lived experience during the civil rights movement has influenced his approach to science. Lastly, he offers advice to young researchers interested in tackling controversial scientific questions.