When antibiotics became industrially produced following World War II, our quality of life and our longevity improved enormously. No one thought bacteria were going to become resistant.
You can find bacteria everywhere. They're invisible to us. I've never seen a bacterium, except under a microscope. They're so small, we don't see them, but they are everywhere.
Everybody, as soon as they do a good experiment, their first thought in this lab is, 'That can't be right. I must have screwed it up. What did I do wrong?' And that's the best kind of scientist because they're filled with this self-doubt. And if I'm going to be honest, that's who I am. And it's what drives me.
Most bacteria aren't bad. We breathe and eat and ingest gobs of bacteria every single moment of our lives. Our food is covered in bacteria. And you're breathing in bacteria all the time, and you mostly don't get sick.
I called up and said, 'Dad, I won a MacArthur.' My father goes: 'I always thought your sister would win that,' and I said, 'Dad, just say congratulations and keep your private thoughts private.' At that point he laughed, then burst into tears, and it was obvious that he was so happy and proud.