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Barbara McClintock
Ceramic Sculpture
12" x 10.5" x 10.5"

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Barbara McClintock (1902-1992)

"Working in my corn patch has been such a deep pleasure that I never thought of stopping and I just hated sleeping. I can't imagine having a better life." Barbara McClintock's corn patch revolutionized biology and changed forever our concept of the way living organisms pass on their physical traits to offspring. She studied at Cornell University and received her PhD in botany in 1927. She had hoped to receive a faculty appointment but Cornell did not appoint women as professors at the time. Under protest she had to rely on male colleagues to find her jobs, something she felt was wholly unfair. Through one of her colleagues she secured a full time research position at Cold Spring Harbor Institute, a genetic think tank. Working alone at Cold Spring for 40 years she discovered and fully developed the theories of genetic transposition. Her theories were so ahead of her time that her work was rejected for decades by most of the scientific community. In the 1960's two French geneticists re-invented genetic work that she had proved a decade earlier. Eventually the scientific community understood the complexities of her work, and realized she was years ahead of her time. Finally in 1983 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology, the only woman in history to receive the prize unshared. The awards committee compared her career to that of Gregor Mendel, the most famous geneticist in history.