Recently I had the pleasure of photographing Dr. Oliver Smithies, Excellence Professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in physiology/medicine. Dr. Smithies shared the prize with a UK scientist “for their discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells.” Smithies has been at UNC for 19 years and is the first full-time UNC faculty member to win a Nobel Prize.
At age 73, Dr. Smithies is also an avid pilot. He owns a Grob 109B motorglider that he often flies out of the Chapel Hill Airport. It’s sort of like a Piper or Cessna with really long wings. You can fly it like a small plane, or if the conditions are right, cut the engine and use it to soar. Dr. Smithies told me, “It’s not a great sailplane, nor is it a great airplane, but it is a lot of fun.”