Document Type

Response or Comment

Publication Date



Interview, Jackson Laboratory, History, Scientists, Transcript, Susan Mehrtens, Director, Administration

JAX Location

The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine

JAX Source

The Jackson Laboratory Historical Archives


Susan Mehrtens' Note:

Barbara Sanford's interview echoes most of what I have heard from many of the staff regarding the Lab's mission and goals. The Lab's ideal size, geographical location--with its pluses and minuses--and the environment in which to do science in the current period--all find echoes on other tapes. There is little of candor, consequence or calculation here. Sanford clearly recognizes the stressful nature of scientific life in these times of federal cutbacks, and, as well, the frustrations of directing a laboratory whose size, complexity and needs preclude personal scientific work by the Director. In the face of such frustrations, Sanford seemed patient to the point of resignation, aware that necessary evolution doesn't come overnight. If her six years as Director might have witnessed anecdotes, amusing incidents, or memorable events, we aren't privy to them here. Nor is any reference made to some of the Lab's current activities, problems, challenges, efforts. Sanford probably has a vision of h~r long-term goals for the Lab, but she never articulates them clearly here. In this short (45 minute) interview, I came away with the general impression that this was an exercise in courtesy, yet another task dutifully completed in the role of being Director, but not something done with interest, enthusiasm, or an eye to her place in history. Too bad, for Sanford is in an interesting position as the leader of the Lab in a time of transition, internal change, and external challenge. Compare this tape to those of Beck, Prehn, Coleman, Harrison, Lawson, Barker, and Fox, for a variety of different impressions of Sanford, and how she is doing her job.