Gregor Johann Mendel
Today, we understand a lot about heredity. We know that two brown-eyed parents aren’t likely to have a blue-eyed child. We realize that certain plants will probably produce plants similar to them.
But scientists didn’t always understand how heredity worked. Gregor Mendel was the first to explain these phenomena.
- Johann Mendel was born on a farm in Austria in 1822.
- When he was 11, a school teacher, recognizing Mendel’s academic promise, suggested he be sent to a school in a larger city where he could get a thorough education.
- Mendel’s family was poor. His parents sent him to the school at great personal sacrifice. He was often lonely and depressed, but Mendel graduated in 1840 with honors.
- He went on to college and excelled in science and math. Mendel’s father hoped that Mendel would return home to work the family farm, but he chose to become a monk instead.
- At the monastery, he had access to a large research library. Here he was also given the name Gregor.
- He later attended the University of Vienna, where he studied with several prominent scientists and botanists.
- He returned to the monastery and spent 10 years teaching there. He also began conducting experiments using the peas in the monastery garden. He discovered several important ideas related to genetics and evolution.
- As he got older, his eyesight failed and Mendel stopped his research. He died in 1884 and was buried at the monastery.
- It wasn’t until much later that Mendel’s research was published and other geneticists began learning from his work. Today, he is recognized as one of the “fathers of modern genetics.”
Watch a video about Mendel.
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