Informal Biographical Sketch (November 1997)
Eric Martz, a Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst,
has recently switched the focus of his work to educational molecular
visualization. For 20-some years, he did research on cell interactions
and immunology, during which he defined the early steps in the
interactions of cytotoxic T lymphocyte "killer cells" with target
cells, was codiscoverer of an important leukocyte integrin adhesion
and advanced iconoclastic notions about how "killer
cells" control virus infections. In early 1995, he became fascinated
with the educational potential of RasMol, and subsequently of Chime.
(These are free programs for personal computers which display
detailed structures of large biological molecules, such as proteins and DNA,
in color and 3D.)
He founded the RasMol email list, and built a web site replete with
resources for teachers (http://www.umass.edu/microbio/rasmol).
its two years of existence, this web site has sent over two million files
to over 100,000 people from 90-some countries. Martz pioneered
educational RasMol "movie" scripting, and subsequently developed novel
educational presentation formats with Chime. These include
illustrations for lectures (linear) and sites for interactive,
self-paced student exploration (nonlinear). In early 1997, Martz was
awarded a grant from the Division of Undergraduate Education of the
National Science Foundation, with which support he gives workshops to
enable college faculty to incorporate molecular visualization into
their teaching. "As the offspring of
artist-parents, I have always
longed to create beauty as well as truth", says Martz. "RasMol and
Chime enable me to do both".
RasMol was created by Roger Sayle while he was an undergraduate and then
a PhD student in the UK. Chime, derived in part from RasMol, was
created by Tim Maffett of MDL Information Systems, Inc.