47. Mike Wilson

Opera In Space

Mike Wilson was thrown out of MIT in 1981 with a BS in chemistry. In 1988, he was similarly ejected from UC Berkeley with a PhD in physical chemistry. Having grown craftier (and somewhat heavier set) in the intervening years, he was able to sneak in a postdoc before being shown the door. Subsequently, he left behind a scattered string of positions throughout the San Francisco bay area, before joining UCSF in 1996 as an Assistant Researcher in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. He is now a Research Scientist in the department (basically an Assistant Researcher twice removed.)

His research interests focus on the structure of aqueous interfaces and bilayer membranes and the transport of material across these membranes via protein assemblies. In other words, he studies how stuff gets thrown out of cells. He does this by throwing large numbers of molecules onto a computer and solving the equations of motion in Molecular Dynamics computer simulations. He has maintained connection with the NASA-Ames Research Center even after his tenure as an National Research Council Associate (1990-1991) and is currently a contractor in the Exobiology Branch of the Space Sciences Division. This is purportedly to study the effects of interfaces on the structure and organization of prebiotic organic molecules, such as might be thrown out of comets. Close friends suspect that his ultimate goal is to get thrown off the planet. In the meantime, he consoles himself by getting thrown out of bars and assorted musical gatherings by playing the saxophone.

International Space Orchestra’ s member: Mike Wilson is playing the Saxophone