June 12, 2001
Albert F. Blakeslee
Born in Geneseo, N. Y., the son of a Methodist minister. He got his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University in 1896 then taught math and science at a prep school before starting grad work at Harvard University. After studying under Professor Thaxter
he received his he received his M.A. in Research in Mycology in 1900, and a P.H.D. in 1904. His thesis Sexual Reproduction in the Mucorineae
was important because it was the first to address sexuality in the lower fungi. Throughout the years Dr. Blakeslee was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from the University of San Marcos (Peru), University of Delhi (India), Yale, Smith College, Wesleyan, the University of Paris, and the University of Arkansas.
From 1907 to 1915 Blakeslee was Professor of Botany at the Connecticut Agricultural College, Storrs, Connecticut. In 1915 he became resident investigator in plant genetics at Carnegie Institution, Long Island, N. Y. and by 1936 he became Director. In general Blakeslee’s research concentrated on the genetics and cytology of Datura stramonium and the nine other species of the genus. Working with Dr. John Belling, he was the first to demonstrate the interchange of segments between non-homologous chromosomes and the resulting cytological differences that can be used to identify these interchanges.
In the 1950’s he developed the Gloriosa daisy.
Along with all his research activities Blakeslee was Director of the National Science Fund; Visiting Lecturer in Genetics at Harvard] (1948-49); and member of the National Research Council, the Trustees of "Biological Abstracts," and the Board of Managers of the New York Botanical Garden.