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Professor Stresemann


If I had been a doctor
Ernst Mayr Scientist
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I, of course, been thought… thinking of that. I was not the guy to be a… the ordinary, normal practitioner. Now, to begin with when I was a pre-clinical student in Greifswald, the professor of anatomy there, Professor Karl Peter, he was so taken by my enthusiasm for my work – I dissected… I did 11 different dissections on the human body – he tried to persuade me I should shift to anatomy, believe it or not, and he said as soon as you've got your degree I'll employ you as my first assistant, so you have a… a career all laid out for you. But of course it didn't appeal to me at all. Now, my own feeling was this was a combination of several things. First of all, I’m quite sure I would have gone into a university career and into research and I was particularly interested in diagnosis. I had the… as it… in hindsight I know quite wrong idea, that my father probably wouldn't have died if he had been diagnosed early enough and so forth. So I was very much obsessed with the idea that diagnosis had to be improved, and that's the direction in which I would have gone. It would have been internal medicine.

The late German-American biologist Ernst Mayr (1904-2005) was a leading light in the field of evolutionary biology, gaining a PhD at the age of 21. He was also a tropical explorer and ornithologist who undertook an expedition to New Guinea and collected several thousand bird skins. In 1931 he accepted a curatorial position at the American Museum of Natural History. During his time at the museum, aged 37, he published his seminal work 'Systematics and Origin of the Species' which integrated the theories of Darwin and Mendel and is considered one of his greatest works.

Listeners: Walter J. Bock

Walter J. Bock is Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Columbia University. He received his B.Sc. from Cornell and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard. His research lies in the areas of organismal and evolutionary biology, with a special emphasis on functional and evolutionary morphology of the skeleto-muscular system, specifically the feeding apparatus of birds.

Tags: Greifswald, Karl Peter

Duration: 1 minute, 29 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008