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Getting a professorship at Harvard


The stay in Seattle
Ernst Mayr Scientist
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The stay in Seattle was quite… it was immensely pleasurable because it's one of the most beautiful parts of the country. And there were some very nice people in the faculty who took my wife and me out every weekend either to the Olympic Peninsula, or to the coastline or to the islands, Friday Harbor Island. Or, whether it was… [sic], and we had a most wonderful time there. And normally it's an area where it rains all the time in the fall, and by some fluke it was a driest summer they have had in something like 50 years; in fact, it was so dry that they had to ration electricity because the reservoirs from which they got a lot of the hydroelectric power were drying up.

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: Seattle, Olympic Peninsula, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island

Duration: 55 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008