The Caltech Institute Archives

Interview with Arthur W. Galston

Galston, Arthur W. (2004) Interview with Arthur W. Galston. [Oral History]

See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Interview in one session by Shirley K. Cohen conducted in New Haven, Connecticut, with Arthur William Galston, Eaton Professor Emeritus of Botany at Yale, and formerly Associate Professor of Biology at the California Institute of Technology. Galston was an expert in plant physiology, specifically the chemical control of plant growth. His social concerns about the impact of science led him into bioethics and to membership in several social and political action organizations. In his interview, Galston dates his discovery of botany to his undergraduate years at Cornell with professor Loren Petry and recounts his continuation of his studies in botany and biochemistry at the University of Illinois (PhD 1943), followed by an invitation from James Bonner to join Caltech's Division of Biology to work on guayule. After several unsettled years, including time in the navy during World War II, Galston returned to Caltech as a senior research fellow, later becoming a tenured professor in 1951. He recalls teaching and research at Caltech with colleagues in biology, including George Beadle, Norman Horowitz, Herschel Mitchell, Ray Owen, and later, Edward B. Lewis; and plant biologists Bonner, Frits Went, Robert Emerson, and Arie Haagen-Smit. Galston acknowledges his political support of Linus Pauling in the early 1950s and his admiration for Max Delbrück and Richard Feynman. He recounts briefly the origin of the phytotron under Went and the reasons for its being demolished following Went's departure from Caltech. He comments on the end of the Thomas Hunt Morgan era in biology at Caltech and the bringing in of George Beadle to run the division. His own interest in interdisciplinary work and in politics eventually lead him into bioethics. He recalls the circumstances of his leaving Caltech for Yale in 1955 and the family and professional issues that were involved in that move.

Item Type:Oral History
Keywords:Biology, plant physiology
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Galston_A
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Galston, Arthur W. Interview by Shirley K. Cohen. Pasadena, California, October 8, 2002. Oral History Project, California Institute of Technology Archives. Retrieved [supply date of retrieval] from the World Wide Web:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
Subjects:All Records
Subjects > Biology
ID Code:150
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:08 Jul 2008
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 15:23

Repository Staff Only: item control page