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Mcclintock, Barbara (1902–1992)

Barbara McClintock was a cytogeneticist best known for her discovery of transposons (a term derived from “transposition”) in maize genes. In 1983, she was the first woman to be awarded an unshared Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Her work in the field of genetics continues to be of great significance in the study of genetics, cytology, and molecular biology. Her life was a case study of persistence in the face of little recognition from her peers or the public over many years, as well as gender discrimination, and provides an important lesson for science communicators to the effect that the most important discoveries are not always the most quickly recognized—nor the most visible—even in relatively recent times.

Early Life and University

Barbara McClintock was born in ...

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