Gregor Mendel at his Bicentennial: Highlights of his Life and Legacy
Daniel J. FairbanksUtah Valley University
As we celebrate the bicentennial of Gregor Mendel’s birth, a few highlights of his life and legacy illustrate the breadth of his contributions and his genius. Born into poverty, he excelled in education in his youth. He entered the St. Thomas Monastery as an Augustinian friar where he joined an extraordinary community of scholars. At the University of Vienna, he studied with some of the world’s finest scientists, especially in mathematics, physics, botany, and evolution, and published his first research papers there. His famous experiments led him to an enduring theory that is more expansive than often portrayed. As Darwin’s contemporary, his annotations in Darwin’s books and Darwinian comments in letters reveal much about his understanding of the role of hybridization in evolution. He was elected as prelate and abbot of the St. Thomas Monastery in 1868, honorably serving in this role until his death in 1884. The neglect and rediscovery of his theory constitute one of the most intriguing stories in the history of science. At the bicentennial of his birth, his theory endures essentially unchanged as the foundation of genetics.
This event is free and open to the public. This event is co-sponsored by the Morris Fishbein Center for the History of Science and Medicine and the Seminary Co-op Bookstore, which will have copies of Professor Fairbanks' book on-site for purchase. This program is made possible through the support of ‘In Lumine: Supporting the Catholic Intellectual Tradition on Campuses Nationwide’ (Grant #62372) from the John Templeton Foundation. Questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daniel J. Fairbanks is one of the foremost contemporary scholars of Gregor Mendel. His books and articles have worked to dispel pervasive Mendelian myths, clarify the influence of Darwin on Mendel, and bring to light new evidence of Mendel’s scientific discoveries and influence. He is a geneticist specializing in the history of genetics, evolutionary genetics, plant genetics and breeding, and international scientific development. He is author or co-author of six scholarly books and more than sixty scientific articles. His most recent book is a new biography—Gregor Mendel: His Life and Legacy published by Prometheus Books. For his contributions, he received the 2017 Mendel Memorial Medal from the Mendelianum of the Moravian Museum in Brno, where Mendel lived and conducted his famous experiments. He currently is Professor of Biology and University Research Officer at Utah Valley University (UVU) where he previously was Dean of the College of Science. Prior to joining UVU, he was a professor at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst and Brigham Young University. Dr. Fairbanks is also an accomplished artist, with sculpture, paintings, and drawings in museum, public, and private collections in the United States, Latin America, and Europe.