The Quotable Nerdy Chick: Barbara McClintock

Barbara McClintock (1902 – 1992) was an American Geneticist. She originated the study of genetics in corn cells. Although her peers were initially skeptical about her work, McClintock went to win the Lasker Prize for her work, which was followed by her receipt of the Nobel Prize in 1983. Her quotes reveal a woman with enthusiasm for her ideas and joy with her work. Perhaps this is the secret to her success! To find out more about Barbara McClintock, click HERE.

  • I was just so interested in what I was doing I could hardly wait to get up in the morning and get at it. One of my friends, a geneticist, said I was a child, because only children can’t wait to get up in the morning to get at what they want to do.
  • If you know you’re right, you don’t care. You know that sooner or later, it will come out in the wash.
  • The prize is such an extraordinary honor. It might seem unfair, however, to reward a person for having so much pleasure over the years, asking the maize plant to solve specific problems and then watching its responses.
  • Plants are extraordinary. For instance … if you pinch a leaf of a plant you set off electrical impulse. You can’t touch a plant without setting off an electrical impulse … There is no question that plants have all kinds of sensitivities. They do a lot of responding to an environment. They can do almost anything you can think of.
  • It never occurred to me that there was going to be any stumbling block. Not that I had the answer, but [I had] the joy of going at it. When you have that joy, you do the right experiments. You let the material tell you where to go, and it tells you at every step what the next has to be because you’re integrating with an overall brand new pattern in mind.
  • With the tools and the knowledge, I could turn a developing snail’s egg into an elephant. It is not so much a matter of chemicals because snails and elephants do not differ that much; it is a matter of timing the action of genes.

I love that first quote! It doesn’t happen every day, but there are some days when I’m so excited about a project that I just can’t wait to get to it!

 

 

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