MicrobiologistBarbara McClintock

Lived from June 16, 1902 to September 2, 1992


Training: Barbara started her education at Cornell’s College of Agriculture in 1919. She received a BS degree in botany in 1923, but her interests in genetics started when she took her first course in genetics in 1921. In 1922, Barbara was invited to participate in a graduate genetics course at Cornell. Although women were not allowed to major in genetics at Cornell at this time, Barbara was able to take genetics classes, but her degree was for botany with a concentration in plant breeding.

Accomplishments: Barbara was the first person to describe the cross-shaped interaction between chromosomes during meiosis in 1930. The next year, she along with Harriet Creighton proved there was a link between genetic traits and this crossing over. In 1983, Barbara received the Nobel Prize in Medicine. She is the only woman to receive an unshared Nobel Prize in Medicine. She was recognized as one of the world’s most distinguished cytogeneticists (genetics that have to do with the structure and function of chromosomes) and elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1944.

Fun Fact: When Barbara was born, her parents named her Eleanor. They changed her name to Barbara when she was a young girl because they thought Eleanor was too feminine for her!

Read more about her career! GeneticistMicrobiologistResearcher