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Www.helpBIOTECH.blogspot.com | Your Gate Way to Life Science Career

Www.helpBIOTECH.blogspot.com | Your Gate Way to Life Science Career

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Published by: patialokkumar on Dec 21, 2009
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Nettie Maria Stevens was born in Cavendish, Vermont, in 1861. Her
family moved to Westford, Vermont, where her father worked as a car-
penter and a handyman. The parents encouraged education and had
enough money to send the children to college. At first, Stevens did
not seek a career in science. She worked as a librarian until she was
35 years old. Then she attended Stanford University in California to
major in biology. Her professors were impressed with Stevens’ excellent
academic performance. As a result they recommended that she attend
Leland Stanford University for a masters degree in biology. Stevens did
hergraduateworkonthemicroscopicanatomyofnewspeciesofmarine
life. This training prepared Stevens for her future investigations of chro-
mosomal function. Stevens then pursued a PhD in biology at Bryn Mawr
CollegeinPennsylvania.AtBrynMawrCollegeshewasfortunatetohave
Thomas Hunt Morgan as one of her professors. He stirred an interest in
genetics in Stevens. She spent some time traveling through Europe and

www.helpBIOTECH.blogspot.com | Your Gate Way to Life Science Career

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September 7, 2006 16:53

198 Biotechnology 101

did a fellowship at the Zoological Institute at W¨urzburg, Germany. It was
there that she started studying the role of chromosomes in inheritance.
Upon graduation, Stevens was awarded an assistantship at the Carnegie
Institute in Washington, DC. At Carnegie Institute, Stevens performed
her revolutionary research that identified the role of chromosomes in
sex determination. Her study was the first done on worms and insects.
Later it was discovered that sex determination in humans followed the
sameprinciple.Steven’sreceivedmuchacclaimforherresearchandwas
well known as an astute scientist. She provided much of the foundation
of modern genetic principles used in biotechnology. Unfortunately for
Stevens, Edmund B. Wilson, who had read Stevens’ research on chro-
mosomes before publishing his own studies, was credited with a similar
chromosomal inheritance theory. She received a Nobel Prize for the
discovery. Stevens died of breast cancer in 1912.

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