John Waterbury grew up outside of New York City but spent his summers sailing in Wellfleet, Mass. After graduating from the University of Vermont with a degree in zoology, he was faced with the option of a tour of duty in Vietnam or an offer to work with Stanley Watson at WHOI. The choice was both obvious and fortuitous. He spent four years working on nitrifying bacteria before Watson persuaded Roger Stanier at the University of California, Berkeley, to take him on as a graduate student. There he was drawn to the cyanobacteria, a group that has remained the focus of his research ever since. Along the way, Stanier and his wife, a Parisian, moved to the Pasteur Institute in Paris. Waterbury tagged along, having finished his course work at Berkeley, to do his research in Paris. After three formative years there, with Ph.D. in hand, he headed back to Woods Hole where he has been ever since.