J. Craig Venter at Harvard Science Center


The Voyage of Sorcerer II:
The Expedition That Unlocked
the Secrets of the Ocean's Microbiome

in conversation with DIMITAR SASSELOV


October 4, 2023
6:00 PM ET


Harvard Science Center Hall D
1 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA


$0.00 (Free RSVP Required) $29.70 (book included)

Harvard Book Store, the Harvard University Division of Science, and the Harvard Library welcome J. CRAIG VENTER—founder of the Institute for Genomic Research—for a discussion of his latest book The Voyage of Sorcerer II: The Expedition That Unlocked the Secrets of the Ocean's Microbiome. He will be joined in conversation by Founder and Director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative, DIMITAR SASSELOV.


There are two ticket options available for this event. Venter will sign books after the presentation. 

Free General Admission Ticket: Includes admission for one.

Book-Included Ticket: Includes admission for one and one hardcover copy of The Voyage of Sorcerer II.


About The Voyage of Sorcerer II

Upon completing his historic work on the Human Genome Project, J. Craig Venter declared that he would sequence the genetic code of all life on earth. Thus began a fifteen-year quest to collect DNA from the world’s oldest and most abundant form of life: microbes. Boarding the Sorcerer II, a 100-foot sailboat turned research vessel, Venter traveled over 65,000 miles around the globe to sample ocean water and the microscopic life within.

In The Voyage of Sorcerer II, Venter and science writer David Ewing Duncan tell the remarkable story of these expeditions and of the momentous discoveries that ensued―of plant-like bacteria that get their energy from the sun, proteins that metabolize vast amounts of hydrogen, and microbes whose genes shield them from ultraviolet light. The result was a massive library of millions of unknown genes, thousands of unseen protein families, and new lineages of bacteria that revealed the unimaginable complexity of life on earth. Yet despite this exquisite diversity, Venter encountered sobering reminders of how human activity is disturbing the delicate microbial ecosystem that nurtures life on earth. In the face of unprecedented climate change, Venter and Duncan show how we can harness the microbial genome to develop alternative sources of energy, food, and medicine that might ultimately avert our destruction.

A captivating story of exploration and discovery, The Voyage of Sorcerer II restores microbes to their rightful place as crucial partners in our evolutionary past and guides to our future.

Praise for The Voyage of Sorcerer II

“An epic travelogue, brimming with the excitement of discovery. With characteristic panache, Venter unveils the teeming array of bacteria, viruses, and eukaryotes that crowd our planet’s oceans. His research will undoubtedly shape our understanding of the global ecosystem for decades to come.” ―Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies

“An exhilarating account of how creative science is accomplished. Few would guess just how many microbes live with us and how much they contribute to human health, both directly in our bodies and by making sure the air we breathe supports life. I have always loved bacteria, but after reading this I have an enhanced appreciation of their value to life on this planet. I highly recommend it.” ―Sir Richard J. Roberts, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

“A fascinating inside look at Venter’s historic expeditions that makes the experiences, the analysis, and the transformative discoveries come alive.” ―Margaret Leinen, Director, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego

Mask Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Dimitar Sasselov
Dimitar Sasselov

Dimitar Sasselov

Dimitar Sasselov is a Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University and the Founder and Director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative, a multidisciplinary center bridging scientists in the physical and in the life sciences, intent to study the transition from chemistry to life and its place in the context of the Universe.

J. Craig Venter
J. Craig Venter

J. Craig Venter

J. Craig Venter is founder, Chairman, and CEO of the J. Craig Venter Institute, a nonprofit research organization. He is cofounder of the biotechnology companies Celera, Synthetic Genomics, and Human Longevity. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, he has received numerous public honors and scientific awards, including the U.S. National Medal of Science.


There is NO PARKING at the Science Center. For those traveling to the Science Center by car, there is paid public parking in Harvard Square. More info here.

Harvard Science Center Hall D
1 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA

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