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Smithsonian magazine names Barbara McClintock as a female scientist you should know

Posted By Adam Fagen, Thursday, September 22, 2011
Smithsonian magazine has named ten "historic female scientists you should know." They mention that Marie Curie gets all of the attention, but there are many other women who have made seminal contributions to science.

One of those highlighted is Barbara McClintock:

While studying botany at Cornell University in the 1920s, Barbara McClintock got her first taste of genetics and was hooked. As she earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees and moved into postdoctoral work, she pioneered the study of genetics of maize (corn) cells. She pursued her research at universities in California, Missouri and Germany before finding a permanent home at Cold Spring Harbor in New York. It was there that, after observing the patterns of coloration of maize kernels over generations of plants, she determined that genes could move within and between chromosomes. The finding didn’t fit in with conventional thinking on genetics, however, and was largely ignored; McClintock began studying the origins of maize in South America. But after improved molecular techniques that became available in the 1970s and early 1980s confirmed her theory and these "jumping genes” were found in microorganisms, insects and even humans, McClintock was awarded a Lasker Prize in 1981 and Nobel Prize in 1983.


The other nine women honored by Smithsonian are Emilie du Chatelet, Caroline Herschel, Mary Anning, Mary Somerville, Maria Mitchell, Lise Meitner, Irène Curie-Joliot, Dorothy Hodgkin, and Rosalind Franklin.

What more can we do to promote women and men who have made seminal achievements in plant science?

Tags:  Smithsonian 

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