Download Video Like Us On

Catherine L. Drennan’s Personal Story


“My dyslexia was so severe that I wasn’t supposed to be able to graduate high school.”


Cathy explains how her dyslexia, and other people’s low expectations of her because of it, have not prevented her from excelling in science and becoming a full professor at MIT. In fact, her “disability” has given her a unique set of visualization skills that allow her to better understand protein shapes and how they fit together.

View on YouTube


  • Title
  • In your current work, where do you find inspiration/real-word application to your research? What about science continues to inspire you?

    Crystallographers are explorers of the molecular world. We are the first to ‘see’ what a protein molecule looks like. Sometimes the structure of the molecule is not what anyone expected and that changes everything.

  • What is your favorite non-science book, blog, or magazine?

    I like mysteries. Harlan Coben is my favorite mystery writer.

  • What kind of student were you?

    Goodie two-shoes.

  • Did you know how to play a sport or musical instrument? Which one?

    I like outdoor activities: hiking, fly fishing, canoeing and backpacking.

  • What’s the #1 most played song on your iPod?

    Aretha Franklin’s, “Spirit in the Dark” or Talking Heads, “Once in A Lifetime” or Bruce Springsteen’s, “Dancing in the Dark.”

  • If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

    Play the piano.

  • Do you have a favorite quotation about science?

    Nobel laureate Gobind Khorana had Mary Barreras’s quote on the chalkboard in his office, “Take care of the difficult today and leave the impossible for tomorrow.”