Image of Discovery of tRNA’s Structure Discovery of tRNA’s Structure
Discovery of tRNA’s Structure, Alexander Rich, 1973

“Structure of Protein-Building Molecule Determined,” read the January 13, 1973, New York Times front-page headline. The sequence of tRNA had been known since 1965, and laboratories around the world had been racing to determine its three-dimensional shape. The breakthrough for Professor Alexander Rich’s team came with the production of high-resolution crystals of tRNA which could be studied using x-ray diffraction, allowing the scientists to determine clearly the shape of the molecule and its folding patterns. The “L”-shaped structure came as a complete surprise to Professor Alexander Rich and his research group: “I had an open mind,” recalled Rich recently, “but all our guesses proved incorrect.” In January 1975, the team hired MIT first-year student Elizabeth Cavicchi to assemble this model. Cavicchi, who would go on to major in physics and visual studies, describes it as her “first sculpture.”

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  • Amazing!

    2 Feb 11 at 11:20 pm
  • WOW, Elizabeth! Have you done other sculptures or art installations since??? Warmest regards, Amika :)

    3 Feb 11 at 1:39 pm
  • I feel so proud of you, Elizabeth! How wonderful! Really great If I go to Boston agaon we must see each other again. Lots of love,

    Rosario Jaramillo
    3 Feb 11 at 9:33 pm
  • Awesome!
    My congrats to the freshman Elisabeth.
    I can’t wait to see it in person :)

    3 Mar 11 at 3:47 pm
  • Terrific work Elisabeth!!!!

    Marco (Santa)
    3 Apr 11 at 3:18 pm