Sunday, October 8, 2017

WOMEN IN STEM: Nettie Stevens

Article Written By: Teresa Marotta


Nettie Stevens (1861-1912) was an American geneticist whose work primarily focused on the chromosomes and their implication in the sex of an organism. From a young age Stevens’ strong academic abilities were prominent to those around her. Stevens attended Westford Academy, a private school, and after graduating in 1880 she attended teachers’ college in Massachusetts.
She completed the four year course in only two years while scoring high grades. In 1896, Stevens moved to California to study for a bachelor’s degree at Stanford university. She majored in physiology and got her degree in 1899. Her summers were spent working at Stanford’s Hopkins Seaside Laboratory where she studied the microscopic anatomy of organisms and cells. She wrote a thesis called “Studies on Ciliate Infusoria” that earned her a master’s degree in 1900. In 1903, Stevens another thesis that expanded upon the theme of her master’s degree; it was titled “Further Studies on the Ciliate Infusoria Lichnophora and Boveria”. Shortly after she got her Ph.D. Over the course of her career, Stevens discovered two new species of single-celled organisms (Licnophora macfarlandi and Boveria subcylindrica) and most notably published a series of papers that showed how the sex of an offspring is determined by the chromosomes it inherits from its parents.

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