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Interview with James F. Bonner

Bonner, James (1982) Interview with James F. Bonner. [Oral History] (Unpublished)

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Interview in 1980 with professor of biology James Bonner begins with his recollections of growing up in an academic family. In 1929, his father, a physical chemist at the University of Utah, was a visitor at Caltech, where Bonner enrolled as a junior. Recalls course work with X-ray crystallographer Roscoe G. Dickinson and activities of Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering under Arthur Amos Noyes; humanities courses with William B. Munro; physics with Earnest Watson, William V. Houston, and Carl Anderson; geology with John P. Buwalda; and biology with Thomas Hunt Morgan, Henry Borsook, and Theodosius Dobzhansky. Became Dobzhansky's summer researcher and editor; switched from chemistry to biology. Graduate work with Dobzhansky on Drosophila genetics and Kenneth Thimann on plant hormone auxin. Friendship with Noyes. NRC postdoctoral fellowship to Utrecht, Leiden, and ETH, 1934-35. Joined Caltech's Biology Division in 1936 as an instructor: recalls colleagues Frits Went, Arie J. Haagen-Smit, Johannes van Overbeek; plant labs at Caltech; coining of term phytotron. Recollections of Robert A. Millikan. War work for U.S. Emergency Rubber Project on guayule and Cryptostegia. Work on cell biology with Sam Wildman; discovery of Fraction 1, central enzyme of photosynthesis. Founding of Caltech's Industrial Associates program in 1950. Recalls graduate student Paul Tso, discovery of plant actomycin, isolation of ribosomes. Work of Robert Holley on transfer RNAs. Consultant to Malaysian rubber industry. "Next 100 Years" project, with Harrison Brown. Studies RNA in 1960s with R. C. Huang and histone chemistry with Douglas Fambrough. Visitor at Oxford, 1963. Remarks on underdeveloped countries. Study of population growth with H. Brown. Comments on his recent work on cloning genes, and visits to Singapore and China. His hopes for genetic engineering. Stint as acting chairman of the Biology Division; comments on Robert L. Sinsheimer. [See also 1978 joint interview with Bonner, N. H. Horowitz, D. F. Poulson, and S. H. Emerson.]

Item Type:Oral History
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Bonner_J
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
Subjects:All Records
Subjects > Biology
ID Code:15
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:21 Oct 2002
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 15:23

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