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A Woman In Botany Life Science with a Passion For Plant Science Genetic Control in Inheritance__ Barbara McClintock

Updated on April 24, 2013

Legacy of An Inspiring Science Innovator in America--Climbing On The Shoulder of Great Minds

Barbara McClintock (1902- 1992) had a passion for science, in particular plant science in the early days it was classified as botany. Back in 1925 when she finished her M.S. degree and started doing research and embarked on a Ph.D.. The research she began doing, long when only a few women did science in America lead to am amazing discovery about genes, plant genes that can be generalized to many forms of life.

This no one knew at that time when she made the discovery that was eventually to earn her the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology, long after the discovery in 1983.

In 1941 McClintock moved to Long Island, New York, to work at the Cold Spring Harbor Federal Laboratory, where she spent the rest of her professional life. In the next few years, it was here her research lead to the discovery that "genes can jump from one location in the chromosome to another randomly" , not known in the Mendalian process of genetic inheritance that governed mechanism of inheritance as the only process known then.

Her work was decades before her time. Her work was perhaps ignored by many or not understood. After all women were not known to be making Nobel class research in those days in America !


A Startling Discovery That Promises Revolution in Science of "Genes to Future Medicine"

Below is a brief additional information taken from the autobiography that is posted at the as valuable inspiriing period of her life that lead to the scientific discovery she made that will lead to even more knowledge in future as we go with "genes to future medicine" pace will accelerate, with possible new solutions for such disease as some types of cancer that effects humans.

* ** After completing requirements for the Ph.D. degree in the spring of 1927, I remained at Cornell to initiate studies aimed at associating each of the ten chromosomes comprising the maize complement with the genes each carries. With the participation of others, particularly that of Dr. Charles R. Burnham, this task was finally accomplished. In the meantime, however, a sequence of events occurred of great significance to me. It began with the appearance in the fall of 1927 of George W. Beadle (a Nobel Laureate) at the Department of Plant Breeding to start studies for his Ph.D. degree with Professor Rollins A. Emerson. Emerson was an eminent geneticist whose conduct of the affairs of graduate students was notably successful, thus attracting many of the brightest minds. In the following fall, Marcus M. Rhoades arrived at the Department of Plant Breeding to continue his graduate studies for a Ph.D. degree, also with Professor Emerson. Rhoades had taken a Masters degree at the California Institute of Technology and was well versed in the newest findings of members of the Morgan group working with Drosophila. Both Beadle and Rhoades recognized the need and the significance of exploring the relation between chromosomes and genes as well as other aspects of cytogenetics. The initial association of the three of us, followed subsequently by inclusion of any interested graduate student, formed a close-knit group eager to discuss all phases of genetics, including those being revealed or suggested by our own efforts. The group was self-sustaining in all ways. For each of us this was an extraordinary period. Credit for its success rests with Professor Emerson who quietly ignored some of our seemingly strange behaviors.

Over the years, members of this group have retained the warm personal relationship that our early association generated. The communal experience profoundly affected each one of us.

The events recounted above were, by far, the most influential in directing my scientific life.

Born Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.A, 16 June, 1902

Secondary Education

Erasmus Hall High School, Brooklyn, New York.

Earned Degrees

B.S. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, 1923

M.A. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, 1925

Ph.D. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, 1927

*** This excerpt is take from Nobel.Org website where a brief autobiography remains for posterity to know and understand now and in future. Her Nobel in Medicine or Physiology was shared by two others in 1983. Her Nobel Lecture can also be find at the website.

Corn is a Key Agricutlural Product in America Today and Elswhere in World


Barbara at work at the Lab


From My Botany Lab Memory Book

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Barbara at Work


A Typical Modern U.S. Government or University Botany Lab where Barbara Made Her Startling Discovery that now can contribute to


Maize Variety and Gift of Native American Culture to Humanity


Native American Gift to Humanity--Maize


Barbara at North Carolina at last phase of her life


My New Group at LinkedIn.Com. - Welcome !


Comments Welcome--Appreciating Women ins Science & Engineering ! - 'Times They Are Changin"

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