- NAME: Gregor Mendel
- OCCUPATION: Botanist
- BIRTH DATE: July 22, 1822
- DEATH DATE: January 06, 1884
- EDUCATION: University of Vienna, University of Olmütz
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Heinzendorf, Austria
- PLACE OF DEATH: Brno, Austria
- Full Name: Gregor Johann Mendel
- Originally: Johann Mendel
- AKA: Gregor Mendel
- Nickname: "Father of Modern Genetics"
- Nickname: "Father of Genetics"
Best Known For
Gregor Mendel was an Austrian monk who discovered the basic principles of heredity through experiments in his garden. Mendel's observations became the foundation of modern genetics and the study of heredity, and he is widely considered a pioneer in the field of genetics.
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Gregor Mendel, known as the "father of modern genetics," was born in Austria in 1822. A monk, Mendel discovered the basic principles of heredity through experiments in his monastery's garden. His experiments showed that the inheritance of certain traits in pea plants follows particular patterns, subsequently becoming the foundation of modern genetics and leading to the study of heredity.
"My scientific studies have afforded me great gratification; and I am convinced that it will not be long before the whole world acknowledges the results of my work."
Gregor Johann Mendel was born Johann Mendel on July 22, 1822, to Anton and Rosine Mendel, on his family’s farm, in what was then Heinzendorf, Austria. He spent his early youth in that rural setting, until age 11, when a local schoolmaster who was impressed with his aptitude for learning recommended that he be sent to secondary school in Troppau to continue his education. The move was a financial strain on his family, and often a difficult experience for Mendel, but he excelled in his studies, and in 1840, he graduated from the school with honors.
Following his graduation, Mendel enrolled in a two-year program at the Philosophical Institute of the University of Olmütz. There, he again distinguished himself academically, particularly in the subjects of physics and math, and tutored in his spare time to make ends meet. Despite suffering from deep bouts of depression that, more than once, caused him to temporarily abandon his studies, Mendel graduated from the program in 1843.
That same year, against the wishes of his father, who expected him to take over the family farm, Mendel began studying to be a monk: He joined the Augustinian order at the St. Thomas Monastery in Brno, and was given the name Gregor. At that time, the monastery was a cultural center for the region, and Mendel was immediately exposed to the research and teaching of its members, and also gained access to the monastery’s extensive library and experimental facilities.
In 1849, when his work in the community in Brno exhausted him to the point of illness, Mendel was sent to fill a temporary teaching position in Znaim. However, he failed a teaching-certification exam the following year, and in 1851, he was sent to the University of Vienna, at the monastery’s expense, to continue his studies in the sciences. While there, Mendel studied mathematics and physics under Christian Doppler, after whom the Doppler effect of wave frequency is named; he studied botany under Franz Unger, who had begun using a microscope in his studies, and who was a proponent of a pre-Darwinian version of evolutionary theory.
In 1853, upon completing his studies at the University of Vienna, Mendel returned to the monastery in Brno and was given a teaching position at a secondary school, where he would stay for more than a decade. It was during this time that he began the experiments for which he is best known.
Around 1854, Mendel began to research the transmission of hereditary traits in plant hybrids. At the time of Mendel’s studies, it was a generally accepted fact that the hereditary traits of the offspring of any species were merely the diluted blending of whatever traits were present in the “parents.” It was also commonly accepted that, over generations, a hybrid would revert to its original form, the implication of which suggested that a hybrid could not create new forms.
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