Master's Tea with Prof. William Summers


Professor William C. Summers' formal education at the University of Wisconsin included mathematics, molecular biology, medicine, and he received his M.D. and Ph.D. in 1967. His research has included molecular biology and genetics of cancer and viruses, history of medicine and science, and the relations between science and the humanities.

He has taught and published on various topics such as quantum mechanics to viral genetics to the biology of gender and sexuality, and as well as East Asian studies. He has recently completed a book on the geopolitics of plague in Manchuria, and is also working on the history of the American Phage Group. His continuing interest in Asian medicine and public health is now focused on the recent history within the ASEAN group of nations.


The Tembusu (Fagraea fragrans) is a large evergreen tree in the family Gentianaceae. It is native to Southeast Asia. Its trunk is dark brown, with deeply fissured bark, looking somewhat like a bittergourd. It grows in an irregular shape from 10 to 25m high. Its leaves are light green and oval in shape. Its yellowish flowers have a distinct fragrance and the fruits of the tree are bitter tasting red berries, which are eaten by birds and fruit bats.