Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Outstanding Scientific Women in last 100 years (3)

Barbara McClintock, American scientist (1902-1992), was born in Hartford, Connecticut; she was the youngest of three daughters in a middle-class family.  She enrolled at the School of Agriculture in Cornell University, where the tuition was free, graduated in 1923, and in 1927 received her PhD.

For the time being it was very difficult for women to get permanent work in universities and she survived on several short-term research fellowships at various universities.  In 1931, she was the first woman postdoctoral fellow to work at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech); it was necessary that the Board of Trustees
granted her special permission, even she was paying her own salary from her fellowship.

After several uninteresting positions, she resigned the last one in 1941; then she heard about a research institute at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island, where as much as 60 geneticists were working.  After some years her position there was made permanent and was given the freedom to follow her own lines of research.

In 1945 she was the first woman to be elected president of the Genetics Society of America; in 1983, at 81 years old, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her work on cytogenetics of maize:    seventh woman to receive it in science.

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