History of Botany: The Missouri Connection
Kass, Lee B .
Barbara McClintock at the University of Missouri (1936-1942): The Road to Transposition.
Barbara McClintock was appointed Assistant Professor of Botany at the University of Missouri in 1936. A year earlier, Lewis J. Stadler had identified McClintock as the best cytologist in the world for the appointment in his genetics research institute. Stadler's Rockefeller Foundation grant initially paid McClintock's salary, but the renewal was contingent upon the university assuming financial responsibility for her appointment, which they did. McClintock taught many courses at Missouri; developing their first course in Cytogenetics. She was major advisor or directed research for seven graduate students and offered guidance to many visiting researchers. She presented seminars at neighboring universities and regularly attended annual meetings of the Genetics Society of America. There in 1936 and 1937, she reported on ring chromosomes, a study she had initiated as a National Research Council Fellow (1931-1933) with Stadler. She soon published a complete account of that work and the research that grew from the initial study. Continuing these investigations during the next three years at Missouri (1939-1941), she wrote three papers elucidating the mechanisms for the breakage-fusion-bridge cycles in maize, which led to her Nobel-award-winning discovery of transposable elements. Upon learning that Stadler's genetics research group might be terminated if Stadler left the University and that there might be an opening for her at the Department of Genetics, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Cold Spring Harbor (CSH), New York, McClintock requested a leave of absence and spent the summer of 1941 at CSH. There she was offered a visiting investigator appointment for the duration of her leave. When Missouri learned that she was subsequently offered a permanent staff position at CSH, they immediately counter offered with a large raise to supplement her previously recommended promotion with tenure. CSH offered a full-time research investigator appointment, with no interference and complete freedom to pursue research without teaching responsibilities, committee work, graduate student advising or publication deadlines. McClintock resigned from Missouri in August 1942.
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1 - Cornell University, Plant Biology, 412 Mann Library, Ithaca, NY, 14853, USA
University of Missouri.
Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Location: Lindell D/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
Time: 11:15 AM