Hall of Distinguished Alumni
Thomas Hunt Morgan
in Lexington, Ky., on September 25, 1866. Educator. Scientist. Winner of the
Nobel Prize in medicine, for biological research in 1933. University of Kentucky,
B.S., 1886, M.S., 1888. Died, December 4, 1945.
geneticist who discovered basic mechanisms of heredity, his experiments went
on to the end of his long life, and many of the students he inspired continue
the search. A winner of the Nobel Prize himself in 1933 for biological research,
one of the most distinguished of his students, Dr. George W. Beadle, also went
on to become a winner of the Nobel Prize.
interest in Mendells long-forgotten discovery of inheritance patterns was beginning
to stir early in this century, the Nobel winner already was deeply involved
in embryological and developmental studies. When a white-eyed mutant appeared
among his stock of laboratory Drosophila, he recognized that this tiny fruit
fly might offer a chance to test Mendells findings and see how they might apply
to organisms other than garden peas.
his laboratory at Columbia University and at home on kitchen tables, he and
his students classified and counted the hundreds of offspring that resulted
from crossing flies with contrasting characteristics and pedigrees. Such as
linkage, crossing over, and nondisjunction were coined to describe the mechanisms
inferred from the results. Though less noted than his work in genetics, his
embryological and regeneration studies also are considered important.
1910-20 at Columbia in a laboratory called the "Fly Room," he and
his associates confirmed Mendells laws of heredity and established the physical
reality of the gene as part of the chromosome.
was a student at the University in the 1880s, earning both the B.S. (1886) and
M.S. (1888) degrees, before moving on to Johns Hopkins University to earn the
Ph.D. degree (1890). He then taught at Bryn Mawr and Columbia (15 years), where
he organized a then-unique biological sciences department based on his own futuristic
ideas. He also was professor of experimental zoology. He directed the Kerckoff
Laboratories at Cal Tech from 1928 to 1945.
was elected President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
in 1930, and also was President of the American Morphological Society, the American
Society of Naturalists, and the National Academy of Sciences. He presided at
the Sixth International Genetics Congress. He was a member of the Royal Society
also received degrees in Scotland and in California. He was the recipient of
many honors and awards, including the Darwin Medal and the Coply Medal of the
1916, the University awarded him the honorary Doctor of Laws degree and, in
1966, named its new Thomas Hunt Morgan School of Biological Sciences for him.
Thomas Hunt Morgan was named to
the Hall of Distinguished Alumni in February, 1965.