Thomas Hunt Morgan (1866-1945)

Along with Bateson, the co-founder of modern genetics. An experimentalist and originally a mutationist, opposed to natural selection, Lamarckism, orthogenesis, and the chromosomal theory of inheritance. He converted to the latter and to Darwinism after 1910, discovered linkage and recombination with his "fly room" students and colleagues, and was the first to show that variation derives from numerous small mutations. Most of the "fly room" research during its glory years in the 1910s and 20s was focused on using linkage data to map genes onto the chromosomes of Drosophila melanogaster, a completely novel research agenda that replaced the earlier, neo-Mendelian emphasis on creating quasi-chemical genetic formulas. In 1928 Morgan moved his team of drosophilists (including most prominently Sturtevant and Bridges) to Cal Tech. This program soon recruited Dobzhansky, continuing its leadership in the field until Bridges' death, Morgan's retirement, and Dobzhansky's departure in the late 1930's. Foe of Osborn, who had gotten him hired at Columbia; Morgan did flirt with the eugenics movement in the 1910s, but he opposed it during its ascendancy in the 1920s. Friendly with de Vries, Driesch (with whom he had worked at Naples), Conklin, and Wheeler; replaced Wilson at Bryn Mawr. Morgan was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1933.


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