Past President Memoirs
Genetics in the UK and beyond, experienced through the Memoirs of the Presidents of the Genetics Society, 1919 -1990
UK geneticists played seminal roles in the development of genetics throughout the 20th Century. Together with leading geneticists in the United States, the majority of the principles and investigations of genetics, and supporting subjects such as statistics, came from UK scientists. Most of the UK leading geneticists were members of the Genetics Society and a few became Presidents. All Presidents, with the exception of Edith Rebecca Saunders, were Fellows of the Royal Society of London. Edith Saunders was a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society.
It is a tradition of the Royal Society that each of its Fellows is honoured by the publication of a Memoir documenting their life and contributions to science following their death. Consequently, there are Memoirs available for scrutiny of almost all the Genetics Society Presidents from 1919 to 1990, in the on-line archives of the Royal Society.
This set of Memoirs is a wonderful record of the developments in genetics over this seminal period. Each provides an extraordinary accounts, including family, upbringing, career development and, especially important, the intellectual and practical challenges in genetics at the time together with the breakthroughs in thinking, and their experiments, whether it be on crop plants, fungi, humans, bacteria, phage or viruses.
(Of course, many other outstanding geneticists did not happen to become President of the Genetics Society or a Fellow of the Royal Society!)
I encourage you to pick favourite names, eras, topics or whatever interests you from the list and read a few Memoirs. You might end up reading them all!
Richard B Flavell, CBE FRS
|1919-1930||The Right Hon. The Earl of Balfour||FRS|
|1930-1932||Professor RC Punnett||FRS|
|1932-1936||Professor JBS Haldane||FRS|
|1936-1938||Miss Edith Rebecca Saunders||FRHS|
|1938-1940||Professor FAE Crew||FRS|
|1940-1943||Professor Sir Ronald Fisher||FRS|
|1943-1946||Professor CD Darlington||FRS|
|1946-1949||Professor EB Ford||FRS|
|1949-1952||Professor Sir Kenneth Mather||FRS|
|1952-1955||Professor SC Harland||FRS|
|1955-1958||Professor LS Penrose||FRS|
|1958-1961||Professor CH Waddington||FRS|
|1961-1964||Professor DG Catcheside||FRS|
|1964-1966||Professor G Pontecorvo||FRS|
|1966-1968||Professor Charlotte Auerbach||FRS|
|1968-1971||Professor D Lewis||FRS|
|1971-1973||Professor W Hayes||FRS|
|1973-1975||Professor R Riley||FRS|
|1975-1978||Professor JM Thoday||FRS|
|1978-1981||Professor JRS Fincham||FRS|
|1981-1984||Professor J Jinks||FRS|
|1984-1987||Professor Sir DA Hopwood||FRS|
|1987-1990||Professor NE Murray||FRS|