Dr. Gregory S. "Greg" Kawakita was a geneticist and evolutionary biologist at the New York Museum of Natural History and a coworker to Margo Green. He worked as an assistant curator in the Evolutionary Biology Department and was a protégé of Dr. Whitney Frock.
Appearance and Mannerisms
Kawakita was of Japanese descent, born to wealthy parents in Yokohama, Japan, and orphaned at a young age. He was raised by relatives in England and attended Magdalene College at Oxford before completing his graduate work at M.I.T. and beginning work at the Museum of Natural History in New York. Brilliant, ruthless and arrogant, he was a natural at navigating the museum's political landscape, and was described as being on the "fast track" to career advancement with aspirations of becoming the museum director.
Kawakita was also an avid fly fisherman, often practicing fly casting in the confines of his museum office space.
He had an allergic sensitivity to dust.
InvolvementKawakita and his mentor at the museum, Dr. Whitney Frock, created the Genetic Sequence Extrapolator, a computer program that was capable of analyzing DNA material from two animal or plant samples and providing the probable morphological and behavioral features of the evolutionary link between them. The program was essential in deciphering Mbwun and the Mbwun Lily and solving the Museum Beast Murders. He was due to give a presentation (presumably about his computer program) to the National Science Foundation around the time of the murders. In the aftermath of the murders, Kawakita used the Extrapolator to confirm the connection between the Mbwun Lily and its virus and the beast Mbwun: the reovirus contained in the lily caused morphological changes to its human host, turning them into Mbwun. He took a leave of absence from the museum and rented a warehouse on 94th Avenue in Long Island City, where he set up a laboratory to further his research outside the constraints of the museum. He also further developed the Extrapolator program, although the extensive processing power it demanded required hosting it on a hacked server at a nearby college.
While isolating the properties of the Mbwun Lily reovirus, he discovered that it greatly heightened was also a powerful narcotic. He began selling it as a drug, with the dual purpose of financing his research and providing test subjects as he continued to refine the reovirus, seeking to eliminate the physical changes it brought about while keeping its restorative and sensory effects. It quickly earned the street name "Glaze." Kawakita eventually began taking the drug himself, though it was not as refined as he had thought—though it cured his allergies, the morphological effects soon manifested, causing intense pain from the plate in his back. Desperate, he turned to his old mentor at the museum, who not only arranged for the offending plate and screws to be removed, but also perfected the reovirus, successfully removing the negative physical changes and increasing its restorative power.
Kawakita never returned to the museum. He made one unsuccessful attempt to contact Margo Green, something about which she later felt extremely guilty. Months before his death, Kawakita moved his lab from Long Island City to another warehouse on the western edge of Manhattan, by the West Side Railyards.
Kawakita's mostly skeletonized remains were found by police divers in the Humboldt Kill, alongside those of socialite Pamela Wisher. They had been washed out of a storm drain after having lain underground for some time. Kawakita's body was identified by the telltale skeletal signs in his back from the spondylolisthesis surgery. His skeleton showed signs of rapid uncontrolled bone growth consistent with high doses of the Mbwun Lily extract.
The character's surname was changed to "Lee" for the 1997 film adaptation of Relic. He was portrayed by Chi Muoi Lo.