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Seymour Benzer, Ph.D.[Physics]

National Medal of Science - Biological Sciences 1982

Physicist, molecular biologist, behavioral biologist (neurogeneticist). Post Pearl Harbor worked in secret wartime project studying semiconducting properties of germanium, work that foreshadowed development of transistor. Functional gene is a linear stretch of DNA with definable boundaries. Stretches of DNA are all linked to each other as adjacent pieces of chromosome.


In the summer in the Catskills, Seymour Benzer caught frogs and dissected them using the family’s clothes-making tools. On his 13th birthday his uncle presented him a microscope with which he established a lab in the basement. His high school chemistry teacher and the school Chemistry Club at the New Utrecht High School were very encouraging of scientific interests.

In the stock market crash of 1929, the family had lost the money saved for his college education. Seymour Benzer had Regents Scholarship for undergraduate degree in Brooklyn College where he studied physics & chemistry, 'forgoing biology because the taxonomic approach typical of biology teaching of the day seemed much less challenging.'

Photo: Wiki

Name: Seymour Benzer
Birth: 15 October, 1921 New York City
Death: 30 November, 2007 Pasadena, CA
Institution: California Institute of Technology Pasadena,California USA
Award: "For elucidating the fine structure of the gene and unifying the classical and molecular concepts of gene structure and function."

Presented by President Reagan at a White House Ceremony on May 24, 1983.
Age Awarded: 61
Education, Mentors: New Utrecht High School. Brooklyn College, physics & chemistry 1942. Ph.D. Physics, Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana, 1947. Ph.D. mentor physicist Karl Lark-Horowitz. Research mentor Max Delbruck, Medicine Nobelist, 1969.
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