Famous 20th Century Geneticists

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 1 
James Watson
(Molecular Biologist Who Co-discovered the Double Helix Structure of DNA With Francis Crick)
James Watson
14
Birthdate: April 6, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

James Watson is a geneticist, molecular biologist, and zoologist. He is credited with co-authoring the academic paper that propounded the double helix structure of nucleic acids such as DNA for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962. In 1977, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1997, he was awarded the National Medal of Science.

 2 
Nettie Stevens
(American Geneticist Known for Her Discovery of 'X and Y Sex Determining Chromosomes')
Nettie Stevens
4
Birthdate: July 7, 1861
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cavendish, Vermont, United States
Died: May 4, 1912

Nettie Stevens was an American geneticist. She is credited with discovering sex chromosomes which later came to be known as the X and Y chromosomes. In 1994, Nettie Stevens was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 3 
Barbara McClintock
8
Birthdate: June 16, 1902
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Died: September 2, 1992

Barbara McClintock was a scientist and cytogeneticist who received the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. She earned her Ph.D. in botany from Cornell University and began her lifelong work in the development of maize cytogenetics. She eventually gained recognition as among the best in the field and was honored with several prestigious awards.  

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 4 
J.B.S. Haldane
(British Scientist Who Developed the Mathematical Theory of Population Genetics and One of the Founders of ‘Neo-Darwinism’)
J.B.S. Haldane
4
Birthdate: November 5, 1892
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Oxford, England
Died: December 1, 1964

British geneticist J.B.S. Haldane is remembered for his pioneering use of statistics in biology. A proponent of neo-Darwinism, he was the son of physiologist John Scott Haldane and had begun assisting his father at age 8. He later joined the British Communist Party and also moved to India.

 5 
Francis Collins
(American Physician-Geneticist who Discovered the Genes Associated with a Number of Diseases and Led the Human Genome Project)
Francis Collins
6
Birthdate: April 14, 1950
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Staunton, Virginia, United States

American physician-geneticist Francis Collins is known for his discovery of the genes related with several diseases and for leading the Human Genome Project while serving as director of NHGRI. Recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science, Collins wrote the New York Times bestseller The Language of God and presently serves as director of the NIH.

 6 
Ronald Fisher
(Statistician)
Ronald Fisher
4
Birthdate: February 17, 1890
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: East Finchley, London, England
Died: July 29, 1962

Ronald Fisher was a British polymath, statistician, geneticist, mathematician, and academic. He is credited to have single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science. He made important contributions to the field of genetics and is known as one of the three principal founders of population genetics. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1929. 

 7 
Anne McLaren
(Geneticist)
Anne McLaren
4
Birthdate: April 26, 1927
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: July 7, 2007

Geneticist Anne McLaren is remembered for her pioneering research in embryology that paved the way for further research in fertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilization. The Royal Society fellow had also appeared as a child actor in the film adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel Things to Come.

 8 
Nikolai Vavilov
(Russian Geneticist and Agronomist Who Was Imprisoned for His Unconventional Scientific Beliefs)
Nikolai Vavilov
6
Birthdate: November 25, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: January 26, 1943

Russian geneticist Nikolai Vavilov not just taught at the University of Saratov but also served as the director of the Bureau of Applied Botany in Petrograd. He made expeditions worldwide, but invited criticism from Soviet agronomist T.D. Lysenko, who was close to Stalin. Vavilov was eventually imprisoned and died in captivity.

 9 
M. S. Swaminathan
(Indian Agronomist Who is Known as the Main Architect of the Green Revolution in India)
M. S. Swaminathan
12
Birthdate: August 7, 1925
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kumbakonam, India

Ramon Magsaysay Award-winning geneticist M. S. Swaminathan is best known for his contribution to the Indian Green Revolution. Featured on Time, he introduced high-yielding varieties of wheat and rice seedlings to Indian farmers. He is also known for his administrative work as part of the Indian civil services.

 10 
Theodosius Dobzhansky
(Russian-American Geneticist and Evolutionary Biologist)
Theodosius Dobzhansky
3
Birthdate: January 25, 1900
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nemyriv, Ukraine
Died: December 18, 1975

Theodosius Dobzhansky was a Ukrainian-American geneticist and evolutionary biologist. He played a key role in shaping modern synthesis in the field of evolutionary biology.  His 1937 book, Genetics and the Origin of Species, is a seminal work on modern synthesis. He was the recipient of several awards, including the US National Medal of Science and the Franklin Medal.  

 11 
George R. Price
(Mathematician, Geneticist)
George R. Price
3
Birthdate: October 6, 1922
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: United States of America
Died: January 6, 1975

Best known for his theory of Price Equation, American population geneticist, George R. Price, worked as a chemist for more than two decades before shifting to theoretical biology. On reading W.D. Hamilton's paper on kin selection, he eventually started working on it, in the process devising what is today known as Price Equation and also introducing the evolutionarily stable strategy.

 12 
John Maynard Smith
(Mathematician, Evolutionary Biologist, Geneticist and One of the Founding Members of the 'University of Sussex')
John Maynard Smith
3
Birthdate: February 6, 1920
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: April 19, 2004

One of the most influential evolutionary biologists of his generation, John Maynard Smith was originally aeronautical engineer. Later, he took a second degree in genetics and did extensive research on subjects like population genetics and evolution of sex. Known for formalizing the central concept in evolutionary game theory, he introduced the evolutionarily stable strategy, impacting a wide variety of studies.  

 13 
Joshua Lederberg
(Geneticist)
Joshua Lederberg
3
Birthdate: May 23, 1925
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Montclair, New Jersey, United States
Died: February 2, 2008

Joshua Lederberg was an American molecular biologist best remembered for his work in the field of artificial intelligence, microbial genetics, and the US space program. In 1958, Lederberg won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine when he was just 33; he won the prize for discovering bacterial conjugation. In 2006, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 14 
Mario Capecchi
(Nobel-Prize Winning Italian-American Molecular Geneticist)
Mario Capecchi
3
Birthdate: October 6, 1937
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Verona, Italy

Mario Capecchi is a molecular geneticist who received the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Oliver Smithies and Martin Evans. They received the prize for discovering a method to create a knockout mouse, a genetically modified mouse in which a certain gene is turned off for experimental purposes. In 2001, Capecchi received the National Medal of Science.

 15 
Massimo Pigliucci
(Biologist, Philosopher, Geneticist, Writer, University teacher)
Massimo Pigliucci
3
Birthdate: January 16, 1964
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Monrovia

Massimo Pigliucci is an academician currently serving as a professor of philosophy at the City College of New York. A staunch critic of pseudoscience and creationism, he advocates for secularism and science education. He was once the co-host of the Rationally Speaking Podcast. He often writes on topics, such as climate change denial, pseudoscience, intelligent design, and philosophy. 

 16 
Carol W. Greider
(Biologist, Molecular biologist, Geneticist, Physician)
Carol W. Greider
3
Birthdate: April 15, 1961
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Davis

Carol W. Greider is a molecular biologist who discovered the enzyme telomerase in 1984. Her discovery was honored several years later when she received the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, along with Blackburn and Jack W. Szostak for their work on telomeres.  The trio also shared the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research for the same work.  

 17 
Jeffrey C. Hall
(American Geneticist and Chronobiologist Known for His Discovery of Molecular Mechanisms Controlling the 'Circadian Rhythm')
Jeffrey C. Hall
3
Birthdate: May 3, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

Jeffrey C. Hall is an American chronobiologist and geneticist, currently serving as Brandeis University's Professor Emeritus of Biology. He is credited with conducting extensive research on the behavior and neurology of Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly), which revealed certain mechanisms of the circadian clocks. He received the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Michael Rosbash and Michael Young.

 18 
Eric Topol
(Cardiologist, Geneticist)
Eric Topol
0
Birthdate: June 26, 1954
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Queens, New York, United States

Renowned American cardiologist Eric Topol is the founder-director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. He is known for his pathbreaking research on genes that can be targeted for the prevention of heart diseases. He was also one of the first to question the safety factor of the medicine Vioxx.

 19 
Jack W. Szostak
(Geneticist - Winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine)
Jack W. Szostak
3
Birthdate: November 9, 1952
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London, England

Nobel Prize-winning Canadian-American biochemist and geneticist Jack W. Szostak revolutionized medical science with his research on the manipulation of genes. The Cornell alumnus is credited with creating the first yeast artificial chromosome. He has also taught at the Harvard Medical School. In spite of being Polish, he doesn’t speak the language.

 20 
Ian Wilmut
(British Embryologist Known for Creating a Cloned Sheep Named 'Dolly' From an Adult Sheep’s Somatic Cell)
Ian Wilmut
3
Birthdate: July 7, 1944
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hampton Lucy, England

British biologist Ian Wilmut revolutionized embryology by leading the team of researchers who successfully created the first cloned mammal, the sheep named Dolly. A leading proponent of cryopreservation, he also implanted the first calf embryo, Frostie, in a surrogate cow. He was later knighted for his achievements.

 21 
Sewall Wright
(Geneticist)
Sewall Wright
3
Birthdate: December 21, 1889
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Melrose, Massachusetts, United States
Died: March 3, 1988
 22 
Michael Rosbash
(American Geneticist and Chronobiologist Known for His Discoveries Concerning 'Circadian Rhythm')
Michael Rosbash
3
Birthdate: March 7, 1944
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Michael Rosbash is an American chronobiologist and geneticist, currently serving as a researcher and professor at Brandeis University. In 2017, he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Jeffrey C. Hall and Michael W. Young for their discoveries of the controlling mechanisms of the circadian cycle. Rosbash has also received many other awards like the Massry Prize.

 23 
Michael W. Young
(American Biologist, Geneticist and Winner of 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine)
Michael W. Young
3
Birthdate: March 28, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Miami, Florida, United States

Michael W. Young is a biologist and geneticist. He has spent several years studying genetically controlled patterns of sleep and wakefulness within the fly species Drosophila melanogaster. Along with Jeffrey C. Hall and Michael Rosbash, he was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. His wife, Laurel Eckhardt, is also a biologist and the couple often collaborates professionally. 

 24 
Svante Pääbo
(As one of the founder of paleogenetics, he has worked extensively on the neanderthal genome)
Svante Pääbo
3
Birthdate: April 20, 1955
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden
 25 
Marshall W. Nirenberg
(Biochemist and Geneticist)
Marshall W. Nirenberg
3
Birthdate: April 10, 1927
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States
Died: January 15, 2010

American biochemist and Nobel laureate Marshall W. Nirenberg is best known for his research on solving the genetic code. The son of a Jewish shirtmaker father, Nirenberg showed an early interest in biology. He led the National Heart Institute’s genetics department and was associated with the National Institutes of Health.

 26 
Philip Allen Sharp
(American Geneticist, Molecular Biologist and Winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology / Medicine)
Philip Allen Sharp
3
Birthdate: June 6, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Falmouth, Kentucky, United States

Philip Allen Sharp is an American molecular biologist and geneticist best known for co-discovering RNA splicing. In 1993, he received the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Sir Richard John Roberts. Philip Allen Sharp has also won several other awards, such as the National Medal of Science, the Benjamin Franklin Medal, and the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize. 

 27 
Cyril Burt
(British Psychologist and Geneticist Known for His Studies on the 'Heritability of IQ')
Cyril Burt
3
Birthdate: March 3, 1883
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Westminster, London, England
Died: October 10, 1971

Cyril Burt was an English geneticist and educational psychologist who also made immense contributions to statistics. A prolific writer, Cyril Burt published several books and articles on topics ranging from psychometrics to parapsychology over the course of his career.

 28 
Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer
3
Birthdate: July 16, 1896
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Wildeck, Germany
Died: August 8, 1969

German biologist and eugenicist Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer was an advocate of racial hygiene and the mandatory sterilization of the physically and mentally disabled. He also led the Nazi experiments on twins based on body parts made available to him from the inmates of various concentration camps.

 29 
Rudolf Jaenisch
(A Pioneer of Transgenic Science)
Rudolf Jaenisch
0
Birthdate: April 22, 1942
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Wölfelsgrund, Germany

Rudolf Jaenisch is a German Professor of Biology currently working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA. He is also one of the founding members of the prestigious Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, which aims at improving human health through biomedical research. A pioneer of transgenic science, Jaenisch has been creating genetically engineered mice to study neurological diseases and cancer.

 30 
Francisco J. Ayala
(Biologist, Geneticist, Philosopher, University teacher)
Francisco J. Ayala
3
Birthdate: March 12, 1934
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Madrid

Francisco J. Ayala is a Spanish-born American evolutionary geneticist and molecular biologist, best known for his investigation on the process of genetic variation and natural selection at molecular level. He also undertook research on public health, providing new ideas on the prevention and treatment of diseases and expounded how Darwin’s theory of evolution is well-matched to religious theory of creation.  

 31 
Alfred Day Hershey
(American Bacteriologist, Geneticist and Winner of the 1969 Nobel Prize in Medicine)
Alfred Day Hershey
2
Birthdate: December 4, 1908
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Owosso, Michigan, United States
Died: May 22, 1997

Nobel Prize-winning biologist Alfred Day Hershey is best remembered for his research on bacteriophages, or viruses that infect bacteria. He was associated with the Washington University throughout most of his life. He is also known for his blender experiment, which he conducted with his work partner Martha Chase.

 32 
Howard Martin Temin
(American Geneticist, Virologist and Winner of the 1975 Nobel Prize in Medicine)
Howard Martin Temin
2
Birthdate: December 10, 1934
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: February 9, 1994

Virologist Howard Martin Temin won his Nobel Prize for co-discovering the enzyme reverse transcriptase. His initial research was in the area of animal cancers, as he was also a PhD in animal virology from Caltech. He spent almost his entire academic career teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  

 33 
Reginald Punnett
(Geneticist)
Reginald Punnett
3
Birthdate: June 20, 1875
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tonbridge, England
Died: January 3, 1967

Reginald Punnett was a British geneticist who is credited with creating the Punnett square, which is used by biologists even today to evaluate the probability of genotypes of offspring. He is also credited with co-founding the Journal of Genetics alongside William Bateson in 1910. Reginald Punnett’s book Mendelism is considered by some to be the first textbook on genetics.

 34 
Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza
2
Birthdate: January 25, 1922
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Genoa, Italy
Died: August 31, 2018
 35 
C.H. Waddington
(British Developmental Biologist, Paleontologist, Geneticist Known for Developing the Concept of the 'Epigenetic Landscape')
C.H. Waddington
2
Birthdate: November 8, 1905
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Evesham, England
Died: September 26, 1975

British embryologist C.H. Waddington had studied paleontology before turning to biology. A professor of zoology and embryology, he later also taught animal genetics. His interests also included poetry, painting, and Marxism. He introduced concepts such as epigenetic landscape and genetic assimilation, and penned books such as Principles of Embryology.

 36 
Spencer Wells
(Geneticist)
Spencer Wells
2
Birthdate: April 6, 1969
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Marietta

Renowned population geneticist Spencer Wells is best known for his study of human diversity. His analysis has led him to believe that all humans have descended from a single man from Africa, the Y-chromosomal Adam, who lived around 60,000-90,000 years back. He has also headed National Geographic’s Genographic Project.

 37 
Baruch Samuel Blumberg
2
Birthdate: July 28, 1925
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: April 5, 2011

Nobel Prize-winning physician Baruch Samuel Blumberg is best remembered for his research on the antigen-antibody reaction. His study of an antibody response against hepatitis B helped later scientists develop a vaccine for the disease. He died soon after delivering a speech at the NASA Ames Research Center.

 38 
Andrew Fire
(American Biologist and Professor of Pathology Known for Discovering RNA Interference)
Andrew Fire
2
Birthdate: April 27, 1959
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Palo Alto, California, United States

Geneticist Andrew Fire is best known for his Nobel Prize-winning work on the double-stranded RNA. The MIT alumnus did most of his research under the guidance of Nobel laureate Philip A. Sharp. His discovery of the RNAi later aided scientists work on the cure for ailments such as AIDS and cancer.

 39 
Seymour Benzer
(American Physicist, Molecular Biologist and Behavioral Geneticist)
Seymour Benzer
2
Birthdate: October 15, 1921
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bensonhurst, New York, United States
Died: November 30, 2007

Born to Polish Jew parents in the Bronx, Seymour Benzer would often cut open frogs in childhood. The molecular biologist is best known for his research on viral genes and for coining the term cistron. A Caltech professor, he was also made a Fellow of the Royal Society.

 40 
Matthew Meselson
(American Geneticist and Molecular Biologist Known for His Demonstration of 'Semi-conservative DNA Replication')
Matthew Meselson
2
Birthdate: May 24, 1930
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Denver, Colorado, United States

Molecular biologist and geneticist Matthew Meselson is best known for his research on the Watson-Crick theory and the replication of DNA. The Harvard professor has received accolades such as the Guggenheim Fellowship and honorary degrees from eight universities, including Princeton and Yale. He has also been a CIA consultant.

 41 
Joseph L. Goldstein
(Molecular Geneticist)
Joseph L. Goldstein
2
Birthdate: April 18, 1940
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kingstree, South Carolina, United States

American molecular geneticist Joseph L. Goldstein was born to clothing store owner parents in South Carolina. He ended up winning a Nobel Prize for his research on cholesterol metabolism, which later helped researchers develop statin drugs. He currently chairs the molecular genetics department of the University of Texas.

 42 
Bruce Beutler
(American Immunologist and Geneticist Known for His Discoveries Concerning the Activation of Innate Immunity)
Bruce Beutler
2
Birthdate: December 29, 1957
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Immunologist Bruce Beutler is best known for his Nobel Prize-winning research on the innate immune system of the human body. The son of a scientist and physician, he was a child prodigy and graduated at age 18. He grew up to be associated with institutes such as the Scripps Research Institute.

 43 
Mathilde Krim
(Geneticist, Physician)
Mathilde Krim
2
Birthdate: July 9, 1926
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Como

Mathilde Krim was an Israeli medical researcher best known for her association with amfAR, an international nonprofit organization that aims at supporting AIDS research; she was the founding chairman of the organization. For her immense contribution to the field of AIDS research, Mathilde Krim was honored with the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000.

 44 
Susan Lindquist
(American Molecular Biologist Who Made Key Discoveries Concerning Protein Folding)
Susan Lindquist
2
Birthdate: June 5, 1949
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: October 27, 2016

Cell biologist and MIT professor Susan Lindquist is best remembered for her research on protein folding and its impact on diseases. The Harvard alumna had also taught at the University of Chicago for 23 years. She was also the first female director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

 45 
Werner Arber
(Microbiologist & Geneticist)
Werner Arber
2
Birthdate: June 3, 1929
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Gränichen, Aarau, Aargau, Switzerland

Werner Arber is a Swiss geneticist and microbiologist whose discovery of restriction endonucleases earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1978; he shared the award with Daniel Nathans and Hamilton Smith. Arber's work alongside Nathans and Smith led to the progression of recombinant DNA technology. Werner Arber is also credited with co-founding the World Cultural Council.

 46 
Jérôme Lejeune
(Pediatrician)
Jérôme Lejeune
2
Birthdate: June 13, 1926
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Montrouge, France
Died: April 3, 1994
 47 
Edward B. Lewis
(Geneticist)
Edward B. Lewis
2
Birthdate: May 20, 1918
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Died: July 21, 2004

Edward B. Lewis was an American geneticist who helped found evolutionary developmental biology, a field that compares the developmental processes of various organisms. In 1995, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Eric Wieschaus and Christine Nüsslein-Volhard. He also won several other prestigious awards like the National Medal of Science and the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize.

 48 
George Wells Beadle
2
Birthdate: October 22, 1903
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Wahoo, Nebraska, United States
Died: June 9, 1989

George Wells Beadle was an American geneticist who served as the president of the University of Chicago from 1961 until his retirement. In 1958, he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering the role played by genes in controlling the biochemical events within cells. George Wells Beadle also won other awards like the Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal.

 49 
Walter Sutton
(Geneticist)
Walter Sutton
2
Birthdate: April 5, 1877
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Utica, New York, United States
Died: November 10, 1916

Walter Sutton was an American physician and geneticist best remembered for his Boveri-Sutton chromosome theory, which is widely regarded as one of the most important contributions to present-day biology. Walter Sutton is also credited with improving several medical and surgical practices, such as anesthetic techniques.

 50 
Alfred Sturtevant
(Geneticist)
Alfred Sturtevant
2
Birthdate: November 21, 1891
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Jacksonville, Illinois, United States
Died: April 5, 1970

Alfred Sturtevant was an American geneticist. He is credited with constructing a chromosome's first genetic map in 1911. Throughout his career, Sturtevant did extensive research on Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) and his research on the Drosophila genome allowed other geneticists to map chromosomes of higher organisms like human beings. Alfred Sturtevant received the prestigious National Medal of Science in 1967.