Pardis Sabeti

Pardis Sabeti


Listen to songs by Pardis Sabeti

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, Pardis Sabeti was not in her office at Harvard’s Center for Systems Biology, but en route to Manhattan—to play a gig that night at a club in the Meatpacking District with Thousand Days, the alternative-rock band for which she sings lead vocals and plays bass guitar. Though such weeknight gigs are rare and Sabeti admits she would choose science over music if pressed, the latter does not detract from her duties as assistant professor of organismic and evolutionary biology; the interaction, she says, is multiplicative, not subtractive. She keeps a guitar in her office to capture the songs that sometimes spill over during spells of scientific creativity. It was during just such a bout of “flow” that Sabeti made a landmark discovery in genetics. As a Rhodes scholar at Oxford in 2000, she was investigating a basic tenet of the field—that evidence of natural selection should be detectable on the human genome because beneficial variants spread quickly through populations. Many were searching for a way to find this evidence in the new data made available by genome sequencing; Sabeti was the first to devise a method, and her algorithm is now used routinely to identify areas of interest on the genome for further study. It was also at Oxford that she taught herself to play the guitar so she could help friends form a band. Aside from dabbling in piano lessons as a child, she had never before played an instrument, but, she says, she had been listening to music for so long that playing and writing followed naturally. In music and biology, experience has taught her, “If you do what you really love—find your passion—it comes easily.”

You might also like

Kevin Young Named 2024 Harvard Arts Medalist

Museum director and poet to be honored April 24

How Air Pollution Affects Our Brains

An expert Harvard panel discusses the links between air pollution and dementia, learning, mental health, and mood.

Steven Pinker on Apple’s Vision Pro

Professor of psychology on the science and history behind the Vision Pro.

Most popular

Klarman Hall Breaks Ground

Harvard Business School’s expansion proceeds, amid debate about capitalism.

Birthing a Legacy

Centennial celebrations for John F. Kennedy in Brookline

Adams House Will Be Renewed after Lowell

Renewal will make Adams wheelchair-accessible and add new social and activity spaces. 

More to explore

Photograph of Winthrop Bell 1910

Winthrop Bell

Brief life of a philosopher and spy: 1884-1965

Illustration of people talking to each other with colorful thought bubbles above their heads

Talking about Talking

Fostering healthy disagreement

Vacationing with a Purpose

New England “summer camps” for adults