There are many known Geneticists who have done many different things in history that have helped out today, for instance, Thomas Hunt Morgan. Morgan was born September 25, 1866 to Charlton Hunt Morgan here in Lexington, Kentucky. He was also a student here at University of Kentucky. He got his B.S degree in 1886 from UK, and he got his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University in 1890.  Then continued on in his life and got married in 1904 to a woman named Lillian Vaughan Sampson who assisted him in his research in the lab. She went to Bryn Mawr College for women, which is where Morgan taught from 1891 to 1904. They had one son and three daughters.  Also, after college in 1928 Morgan became an associate professor at Caltech and taught Biology and here he remained until his last days.

However, before all of these accomplishments he was a very curious ten year old in his backyard looking and finding fossils of animals, and also collecting bird eggs because of his intense interest in science, and the natural history of living things which led him to the study of heredity. According to Nobelprize.org “in 1905 he challenged the assumption then current that germ cells are pure and uncrossed…” Causing him to begin working on ways to prove what he believed to be true which was “Nature makes a new species outright.”

In the year of 1909, he began his work on the fruit fly or Drosophila melanogaster. He will always be known for this particular experiment, in which he crossed the breed of a red-eyed fruit fly with that of a white-eyed. The white-eyed fruit fly was considered a mutated fruit fly because white eyes were not common in fruit flies at all. So the experiment was to test and see how many of the offspring would come out with red eyes (dominant) or white eyes (recessive) and how the result occurred.

According to biology-online.org dominant traits are the traits that will appear over the recessive traits for example an attached earlobe versus an unattached earlobe. Most people I know have unattached earlobes. That means it’s dominant and the attached is recessive because it is not common and more than likely not to show in a person even though that person may have a parent with attached earlobes. Now I must include that it is not easy to be a geneticist and the research and work that goes along with the job makes it a lot harder to do by oneself so Thomas Hunt Morgan needed other hands to help out.

There were other people that contributed to Morgan’s studies, and research experiments. These people were also students that learned under him that were considered quite “gifted,” according to Nobelprize.org, named Alfred Henry Sturtevant, C.B. Bridges, and Hermann Joseph Muller. These scholars helped him with the flies and they were to discover new things pertaining to the fly experiments and genetics in a room called the “fly room.” This was during his seventeen year period at Columbia University. Morgan’s reason for staying at Caltech for so long was that he had planned on it.

Morgan was not just a researcher but also a professor and he wrote a book about Heredity and entitled it The Physical Basis of Heredity. This book describes and goes in detail about his thought processes and where or how his ideas had been formulated which was mainly from the left behind laws by Gregor Mendel, Law of Segregation which, according to AboutBiology.com, is when an allele pair separate or segregate during gamete formation and randomly unite at fertilization.

Meaning the alleles give us physical traits so when they separate and come back together randomly there is no telling what trait the fly will end up with until it is born. Then there is also the Law of the independent assortment of a gene which is, according to AboutBiology.com, the allele pairs separate independently during the formation of gametes. Meaning, the traits are transmitted to offspring independently of one another. The book also illustrates his drawings and observations on the fruit fly experiment and his findings on how many flies had white eyes and how many had red eyes.

According to accessexcellence.org Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) was a man well-known for his work with the pea plants. He studied the sex linkage between the different types of pea plants and observed their offspring and recorded the observations, which helped Mendel to describe how traits were inherited. This helped Morgan out in the long run as well.

Even though Thomas Morgan was very well-known in the world of science there were some studies and experiments that he participated in besides heredity because he also had an interest in regeneration and embryology. Regeneration is the removal of a limb and over time that limb removed is replaced with a new one, or even the idea of cutting the skin in general and watching the skin become replaced with new skin and no real damage being done to the organism.

During my biology class my professor stated that the skin (epithelial) will regenerate over time and this is how we heal from wounds caused by abrasions, and cuts. Burns, however, take longer to heal because there is bad damage to the skin and it must work harder to regenerate. Morgan began to focus more on regeneration during his later years, and during his research he found that in “his demonstration that parts of the organism which are not subject to injury, such as the abdominal appendages of the hermit crab, will nevertheless regenerate.” this discovery made him adventure deeper into the study and begin to experiment on different organisms.

The salamander was another animal Morgan used for his study of regeneration. By cutting off the salamander’s limbs and watching the time it takes to grow back helped him in his research and it was then determined that it would take weeks for the limbs to grow back to its full length. According to the book Regeneration that Thomas Hunt Morgan wrote himself he chose to experiment with Abbe Trembley, fresh water polyps, the experiment was based on whether or not the Trembley was a plant or animal and whether it could regenerate or not. Morgan believed that if the Trembley were cut in half and died it was considered an animal. But if cut in half and it became two different organisms it would be considered a plant.

This organism is known now as a Hydra which is a plant because it did not die when it was cut, but regenerated. Hydra is found at the bottom freshwater lakes, and ponds. Hydra do not have any special function but they attach themselves to rocks leaves and twigs and stretch out their tentacles to capture their prey. This book also shows illustrations of what he found and observed during these different experiments of regeneration. Morgan also studied embryology while he was in school.

Embryology is the study of the similarities between certain embryos when they start out as a fetus and develop into the actual organism. What I mean by this is that when looking at the fetuses below the first stages of development look very similar.

The second stage is where the similarities begin to disappear and the organisms begin to have their own distinctions and characteristics.  This was one of the reasons that Morgan collected bird eggs at a young age. Just so that he could see how things worked because as I said before he was a curious child and this continued on into his adulthood.

Morgan and I have a lot in common because I was a curious child and always wanted to know thing. I asked so many questions and wondered so many things. I always had an interest in science though. When I was in elementary science was close to my favorite subject. It wasn’t because we got to keep animals in the class and watch over them. No, it was deeper than that and I didn’t notice that until I got older. I’m glad to have gotten to do my research on Thomas Hunt Morgan because it taught me that you should always find answers to any questions you may have about anything. Don’t be afraid to ask because there is no telling if someone else has the same question. Or if that question could lead to many others following up on it in the future even after the person may have passed away.

Morgan was not only known inside the scientific community but also outside of it. He attracted many different people that were interested in his studies and research being as that he was a professor at Caltech. He even showed people around the Biology division there at Caltech. This action tells a lot about his character as a whole and shows that he was not only about his work and research and experiments but he was a people person. Morgan passed away December 4th, 1945 in Pasadena California of heart failure.

This is why my partner and I chose Thomas Hunt Morgan as our topic of interest. We both love science and want to go into the medical field.  I interviewed my Biology tutor and according to my Biology tutor Morgan was “known for his research. He received a Nobel prize for his work” (Sean Allen). Throughout the time it has taken me to research Thomas Hunt Morgan I began to realize that not one bad thing has been said about him. He must have been a fair guy all the way around.

Morgan had four children so he had a full plate with them as well. Morgan was a very admirable character and I wish to be like him as well. According to many different sources Morgan was a many-sided character and as a student he was very independent. Even as an adult I don’t think that changed at all.

I feel that Morgan deserved that prize because he made a big difference in research and the study of sex linkage. He actually inspired others to do research when they have questions pertaining to something that can be tested through experiments. He deserved it also because of his personality and great character. His building allows most of that research and experiments to go on. It is called the Thomas Hunt Morgan building and “it is used to serve students as a classroom/laboratory and serves researchers as well to have access to equipment for biological research.” (Allen) Just by us having this building shows how much of an impact that Thomas Hunt Morgan’s research has on today.  Not only is this building a historic landmark but so is Thomas Hunt Morgan’s house.

According to bluegrasstrust.org it was built in 1814 and still stands because of Bluegrass Trust for Historic Preservation. The home is called Hunt-Morgan House, and they were to save to the home from “impending demolition.” They restored the home and it is now a museum for everyone to see the things that Thomas Hunt Morgan had in his home. To be able to enter into the home of a famous geneticist would be my dream come true. To be able to see and know the things he did to get where he was in life. I would love to have that in my life as well. Another thing that is interesting is that on the second floor of his home he has Civil War relics and memorabilia from other family members that may have lived there possibly.

In conclusion, all the students here at UK who wants to pursue a major in the medical field and or the field of biology have to enter the Thomas Hunt Morgan building at some point in time. I will be going into Nursing so I will get a chance to see how much further his work has progressed in the medical field. When I get there it will be an honor to walk the halls of that building and know that I did my paper on one of the most well-known people of science history.

Lewis, Edward B. “The Nobel Prize in Physiology or

Medicine 1933.” NobelPrize.org. 20 April

1998. Web. 27 Oct. 2011

Morgan, Thomas H. The Physical Basis of Heredity.

Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1919. Print.

Morgan, Thomas H. Regeneration. London:

The Macmillan Company. 1901. Print.

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&biw=1366&bih=650&tbm=isch&prmd=imvns&tbnid=91MT5AzKUWu4FM:&imgrefurl=http://www.nature.com/nrg/journal/v7/n11/fig_tab/nrg1918_F2.html&docid=FTVPy38DdBJQ7M&imgurl=http://www.nature.com/nrg/journal/v7/n11/images/nrg1918-f2.jpg&w=505&h=586&ei=M0zcTt28MpCSgQfpwajvCg&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=172&sig=105032935258560834544&page=1&tbnh=142&tbnw=122&start=0&ndsp=21&ved=1t:429,r:1,s:0&tx=51&ty=88

http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/H/Hydra.html

www.bluegrasstrust.org

                                                                             Elisha Ellis