For the contest "Celebrating the Heroes of Science" organized by
, my choice of who I want to portray was very straightforward.
Barbara McClintock, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1983 for her discovery of transposable genetic elements. The remarkable thing about her discovery is among other things the fact that she did so as early as the 1940's. Way before anyone had an idea about molecular structure of DNA. Genetics was an obscure and unfashionable field at that time. Noone really believed her. Until all those famous others like Morgan, Watson, Crick, Pauling etc. made their discoveries - and her work was reestablished.
But there is another reason why I chose her, one that is even more important for me. Howard Green, a colleague, wrote this about her after she died in 1992:"Barbara McClintock was a woman who rejected a woman's life for herself. She began to do it as a small child and never deviated. Her childhood was not a happy one, and perhaps this provided the force, the moral tension that was so strong in her and so necessary for the life she lived. And we must not forget that at the foundation of every creative life there lies a sense of personal inadequacy that energizes the struggle. This sense was strong in Barbara."
She is a big inspiration for me on my continuing struggle to become a geneticist myself.