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Wanting both - to teach and to be a botanist


My decision to become a botanist
Jan Klein Scientist
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Because of this interest it was decided, in my mind, very early in my life that I would become a botanist. I liked nature in general, everything else, as I said, I liked about nature... all the other creatures. But flowers were still in the centre of my interest and so I wanted to be a botanist. That meant I had to go to a gymnasium. Gymnasium is not what it is in English countries, it has nothing to do with physical exercise it's just a higher level... a secondary level of schooling that you have to go through if you want to go to the university. So I went to the gymnasium in Opava which was the nearest town to Štemplovec, about 10 kilometres distance from my village. I had to go by bus or by train there every day and it was the same school that 100 years ago was the school where Gregor Mendel was educated. Now it's called Mendel's Gymnasium actually. At that time, my time, Mendel was a persona non grata, that means you could not mention his name but the fact was that that's where he went to school, just 100 years ago...

[Q] Years before.


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: Opava, Štemplovec, Mendel's Gymnasium, Gregor Johann Mendel

Duration: 2 minutes

Date story recorded: August 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008