Joan Steitz is The Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University and a Howard Hughes Investigator. After completing her PhD with James Watson at Harvard, Joan was a postdoctoral scientist at the MRC in Cambridge (UK), before being recruited to Yale, where she established her lab in 1970. Joan is one of the pioneers of molecular biology, and has made many seminal discoveries, although she is perhaps most famous for her research on noncoding RNAs, including the discovery of small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs) that has paved the way for other research on small RNAs. Joan has received numerous accolades over the course of her career including over ten honorary doctorates, dozens of prizes including the New York Academy of Medicine medal (2008), The Rosalind E Franklin Award from the National Cancer Institute (2006), The RNA Society lifetime achievement award (2004), FASEB Excellence in Science Award (2003) and the L’Oreal award for Women in Science (2001). She is a member of the editorial board for eminent Journals such as Genes and Development and Science, and is associate editor at RNA and Journal of Cell Biology.