Genetics is a very compelling and significant field of science. The research that goes into genetics expands the knowledge we have on illnesses, how the body works, and how we can create medicines and treatments to prevent things like disease and illnesses. As humans there are people we need to truly thank for the life long work they have done in order to provide us with the health care we have today. One person who has done exceptional and notable work for the evolution of genetics is Doctor Barbara McClintock.
McClintock was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1902. Growing up as a child, McClintock was described as an independent child, a trait she later identified as her “capacity to be alone”. In 1908, her and her family moved to Brooklyn, New York where she attended and completed her secondary education at Erasmus Hall. During her high school experience, McClintock discovered her love for science and wanted to continue her education in university. McClintock began her scientific studies and career at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture in 1919 where she first realized her interest in genetics. Her instructor encouraged her enthusiasm for genetics and invited her to participate in the graduate genetics course at Cornell in 1922. McClintock has said that the invitation was a significant factor that lead her to her successful career path. During her graduate studies and postgraduate appointment as a botany instructor, McClintock assembled a group for the study of cytogenetics in maize (corn). McClintock’s research focused on the developing of visualizing and characterizing of maize chromosomes using cytogenetics. Her work inspired many students of the generation at the time.
In McClintock’s progressing career, she made many notable discoveries and publications that greatly benefited the science community. In 1930, McClintock was the first person to describe the cross shaped interaction of homologous chromosomes during meiosis. The year after, McClintock provided a deeper explanation to chromosomal crossover during meiosis and the recombination of genetic traits. Not long after in 1931, McClintock was the first to publish a genetic map of maize which also displayed the order of three genes on chromosome nine.
McClintock’s incredible publications and discoveries led to her many successes and the support of her colleagues. In result, she was awarded with many notable awards congratulating her incredible work in the field. All of her work led her to be awarded several postdoctoral fellowships from the National Research Council. This funding allowed her to continue her work and discoveries at Cornell. Later on in McClintock’s career, she performed new studies on the mutation of genes and how x-rays were linked to these mutations. Throughout her career, McClintock was awarded a Lasker Prize in 1981 and Nobel Prize in 1983 for her extraordinary work in the science field.
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