MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of December 1981

Barbara McClintock


Cold Spring Harbor, New York

Age: 79 at time of award

Deceased: Sept. 2, 1992

Published December 1, 1981

Barbara McClintock was a geneticist interested in natural mechanisms that alter the time and type of gene expression during plant development.

When McClintock began her studies, genetics was not recognized as a distinct discipline.  Although Mendelian inheritance was well established at the time, little was known of the relation of gene expressions to the chromosome, the carrier of the genes.  McClintock’s goal was to correlate specific modifications in chromosome organization with specific changes in gene expression.  Her pioneering work contributed to the significance of genetics as a field.

McClintock was a Distinguished Service Member of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, stationed at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory since 1942.  She served as the Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University from 1965-74.  Her honors included election to the National Academy of Sciences (1944), the National Medal of Science (1970), the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award (1981), the Wolf Prize in Medicine (1981), the Charles Leopold Mayer Prize from the Academie des Sciences, Institut de France (1982), and the Nobel Prize in Medicine (1983), among others.

McClintock received a B.S. (1923), M.A. (1925), and a Ph.D. (1927) from Cornell University. 

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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