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Clausen, Jens Christen (11 March 1891–22 November 1969), botanist, geneticist, and ecologist, was born in Eskilstrup, Denmark, the son of Christen Augustinus Clausen and Christine Christensen, farmers and house builders. Clausen was educated at home until he was eight years old, when he enrolled in a country school and then a private secondary school. When he was ten, his younger brother died, leaving Clausen an only child. At the age of fourteen he took on the responsibility of managing the family farm and also began to read widely in the sciences, showing a special interest in the new field of genetics. Over the next eight years he continued to educate himself in the basic sciences, and with the aid of a supportive schoolteacher, he studied Mendelian genetics and Darwinian evolutionary theory. He also gained linguistic proficiency in German and English....

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Mangelsdorf, Paul Christoph (20 July 1899–22 July 1989), botanist, geneticist, and agronomist, was born in Atchison, Kansas, the son of August Mangelsdorf, a commercial seed merchant, and Marie Brune. Mangelsdorf later recalled that he had developed an intense curiosity about corn ( Zea mays...

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Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis

Sax, Karl (02 November 1892–08 October 1973), botanist and geneticist, was born in Spokane, Washington, the son of William L. Sax and Minnie A. Morgan, pioneer farmers. Sax’s father was a well-known local figure who involved himself in politics, business, and education and became mayor of Colville, Washington; his mother was an artist with a lifelong interest in botany. Sax’s interest in plants, genetics, and agriculture developed early as a result of family influence and his fondness for the Washington environment, a rich agricultural state. Following schooling in Colville, he entered Washington State College in 1912 to major in agriculture. While there, he came under the influence of wheat breeder Edward Gaines, who encouraged him to pursue graduate study. He also met and married his teacher of cytology, Dr. Hally Jolivette, in 1915; they would have three sons. In 1916 she accepted an offer of an instructorship at Wellesley College. Having obtained a B.S. in agriculture, Sax followed her to the East Coast. He enrolled in the doctoral program at Harvard’s Bussey Institution Graduate School of Applied Biology, where he worked with the noted quantitative agricultural geneticist ...

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Shull, George Harrison (15 April 1874–29 September 1954), botanist and geneticist, was born on a farm near North Hampton, Ohio, the son of Harrison Shull and Catherine Ryman, farmers. A devout member of the Old German Baptist Church, Shull’s father was also an unpaid lay minister; his mother, an avid reader, eventually became an accomplished horticulturist after her children were raised. Shull’s formal education was sparse. It is estimated that he only spent 46.5 months in formal school before he entered college and never spent a full year in school at a time. Despite these trying circumstances, George and his seven siblings were educated with the help of their mother, who encouraged study. Stimulated by a rural background that provided him proximity to both wild and agricultural plants, Shull’s interest in plants was apparent by the age of sixteen....

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Stebbins, G. Ledyard (06 January 1906–19 January 2000), botanist, geneticist, and evolutionist, was born in Lawrence, New York, the son of George Ledyard Stebbins, originally from Cazenovia in central New York, and Edith Alden Candler Stebbins, who was from Brooklyn, New York. His father was a wealthy New York financier and real estate developer who was responsible for developing the resort town of Seal Harbor, Maine, and for helping to create Acadia National Park, on Mount Desert Island, Maine. Ledyard Stebbins, named after his father, added until shortly after his father's death “junior” to his name. Stebbins was the third offspring in the family. His older brother Henry became a well-known doctor in Maine and his older sister Marcia became an artist....