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Interview with James Bonner, Sterling Emerson, Norman Horowitz and Donald Poulson

Bonner, James and Emerson, Sterling and Horowitz, Norman and Poulson, Donald (1981) Interview with James Bonner, Sterling Emerson, Norman Horowitz and Donald Poulson. [Oral History]

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In this 1978 informal conversation, the participants recall the early days of biology at Caltech under its first chairman, Thomas Hunt Morgan, including recollections of Theodosius Dobzhansky. Poulson, a professor of biology at Yale, and Caltech professor of biology Bonner describe their undergraduate and graduate education at Caltech in the early 1930s in chemistry, biology, and physics, including a botany course taught by Emerson, professor of biology emeritus. Memories of plant physiologist Herman Dolk, killed in an auto accident in 1932, and the early humanities faculty, including Clinton Judy, Harvey Eagleson, and William B. Munro. Re-creation of Columbia fly room at Caltech with Alfred H. Sturtevant and Dobzhansky; their collaboration on Drosophila pseudoobscura and their later disagreement. Bonner's work on plant physiology with Kenneth Thimann and H. Dolk. Norman Horowitz, chairman of the Biology Division, recalls arriving at Caltech as a graduate student in the late 1930s and being assigned by Morgan to work with embryologist Albert Tyler. Recalls visits to Caltech's marine biological station at Corona del Mar and NRC fellowship to Stanford, where he first met George W. Beadle. Bonner and Horowitz comment on the direction of Caltech's Biology Division in the 1930s--all experiment, no descriptive biology, and an emphasis on genetics rare among universities at that time. Comments on collaboration with chemists, including Linus Pauling. Reenergizing of the Biology Division in the late 1940s with the return of Beadle, Horowitz, Edward B. Lewis, and Max Delbrück. Beadle becomes chairman of the division; contrast between his and Morgan's style of leadership. Growth of Biology Division under Beadle.

Item Type:Oral History
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Joint_Biology
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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:21
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:25 Oct 2002
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 15:23

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