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Searching for new plants and making a rare discovery


Inspiration from my biology teacher
Jan Klein Scientist
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Well of course from the book that I found I didn't find many names of the plants that I was eager to learn what they are called because, first of all, there were pages missing and second, this was a textbook of botany so there were all kinds of exotic plants but not the ones that were growing in my surrounding. But then I went to the high school and I was... this, what I was describing happened when I was seven years or eight years old and I went to the high school one day, and again it's very clear in my memory, I remember going upstairs and there were big windows and in the windows suddenly there were plants exhibited.  There were tubes and in each tube was a single plant and under it was a tag with the name of the plant. Well, that was wonderful. I spent hours there learning what the plants were and of course I was noticed by the person who put it there. It was a new teacher of biology and his name was Karel Kousal, and he soon learned... realized that I was very interested in plants and so very quickly a relationship developed which turned into, eventually, into a friendship. I still correspond occasionally with him; he's still alive, though not well. We differ politically very dramatically but in terms of loving nature and especially botany we were like one person. I owe him very much, not only did he introduce me to the science of botany but also introduced me to people who were professional botanists and through him I became involved already in the high school in actual research, in the floristic research. We were mapping the flora of Silesia, in my case my surroundings, but at one time also I was, during the vacation, I was sent into the Beskidy Mountains and around Lysá hora I was registering the plants that were growing.

Born in 1936, Jan Klein is a Czech-American immunologist who co-founded the modern science of immunogenetics – key to understanding illness and disease. He is the author or co-author of over 560 scientific publications and of seven books including 'Where Do We Come From?' which examines the molecular evolution of humans. He graduated from the Charles University at Prague in 1955, and received his MS in Botany from the same school in 1958. From 1977 to his retirement in 2004, he was the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biology at Tübingen, Germany.

Listeners: Colm O'hUigin

Colm O'hUigin is a senior staff scientist at the US National Cancer Institute. He received his BA, MSc and PhD at the Genetics Department of Trinity College, Dublin where he later returned as a lecturer. He has held appointments at the Center for Population and Demographic Genetics, UT Houston, and at the University of Cambridge. As an EMBO fellow, he moved in 1990 to the Max Planck Institute for Biology in Tübingen, Germany to work with Jan Klein and lead a research group studying the evolutionary origins of immune molecules, of teeth, trypanosomes and of species.

Tags: Beskidy Mountains, Lysá hora, Silesia, Karel Kousal

Duration: 3 minutes, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008