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  • NYS Writers Institute

Video chat with Nobel Prize winner Joachim Frank

New York State Writers Institute director Paul Grondahl (M.A. in English, Class of 1984) interviews Nobel Prize winner, former UAlbany professor, poet, fiction writer, and former Albany resident Joachim Frank.

Frank, founder of the field of single-particle cryo-electron microscopy, shared the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Jacques Dubochet and Richard Henderson for developing a technique to image biomolecules. Currently on faculty at Columbia University, Frank lived and worked in the Capital Region for more than three decades.

Alongside his scientific pursuits, Dr. Frank has maintained a lifelong devotion to the art of creative writing. A published poet and fiction writer, he has taken classes with William Kennedy, Steven Millhauser, Eugene Garber, and Jayne Anne Phillips.

His recent novel Aan Zee, is now available in paperback at The Book Loft. 

Visit his website at where you can read German Chancellor Angela Merkel's letter of good wishes sent on the occasion of his 80th birthday. 

A few months after traveling to Stockholm to receive his Nobel Prize, Frank visited UAlbany in March 2018. A standing room only crowd of former colleagues, students, and community members greeted him for events on campus and at the State Museum.

In a Wall Street Journal story published shortly after the Nobel Prize announced, "A Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist’s Literary Ambitions," Frank shows his abiding love for the writing: “While he sees his Nobel as a crowning achievement in his day job, he also hopes it will help bring more attention to his other career, as a fiction writer. Dr. Frank is the author of three unpublished novels and dozens of short stories. He has been writing almost as long as he has been teaching and researching chemistry.”

Frank is also a photographer who has had a number of exhibitions. During an interview with Adam Smith, Chief Scientific Officer of Nobel Media, Frank explains his fascination for photography, "I’m just very visually oriented. So I see patterns, I see structures very, very fast in a background and so forth. So I have a view when I walk around, sometimes I take pictures."

Frank received notification of his Nobel Prize by phone. In the New York Times story announcing the award, "[Frank] received his phone call at 5:18 a.m. New York time. He said recently his dog has been barking earlier and earlier in the morning, waking up him and his wife. 'This time it was not the dog,' he said."

Below, watch Joachim Frank deliver his Nobel Lecture on December 8, 2017 at the Aula Magna, Stockholm University.


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