I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and did my undergraduate work at University of Notre Dame. During my graduate work at Yale University, the professor I was working with (Walter Gehring) decided to return to his home country of Switzerland and I followed him and completed my Ph. D research in Basel, Swizterland. After doing postdoctoral work in Zurich, I took my first job as an independent scientist at the EMBL in Heidelberg.
There I worked with Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard on massive saturation mutagenesis experiments to identify the genes responsible for Drosophila embryonic development. That work was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine in 1995. Since 1981 I have taught at Princeton University. I am married and have three daughters.