What is the summary for A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It's always a pleasure to read a book about a fellow eccentric!  This is just what you will find in McClintock's biography written by Keller called A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock.  In short, her scientific work and research revolved around one vegetable: corn.

In her work with corn, McClintock discovered lots of secrets about how genes are organized.  In short, she was a biologist, but more specifically a cytogeneticist who got her doctorate in botany.  This, of course, led her to corn.  Even as early as the 20s, while most people were dancing the charleston, McClintock was discovering how chromosomes changed during the reproductive cycle of corn.  She was the first to make a genetic map.  Of what?  Corn.  For all of this, McClintock was considered the cream of the crop and elected to the National Academy of the Sciences in the 40s. 

Even with all of this behind her, McClintock was almost never understood by her colleagues (especially in the realm of the transposition of genes).  She became so discouraged for a while that she stopped her work which, of course, was fully validated later in the century.  She was a super-geneticist before her time!

In conclusion, we can say that the eccentric McClintock, who is the focus of the biography written by Keller A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock, lived a very long and full life, dying at age 90, with a Nobel Prize for her work under her belt!

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