Evelyn Witkin on Alfred Hershey
  Evelyn Witkin     Biography    
Recorded: 01 Jun 2000

When the Demerec lab was built we all had the opportunity to design our own laboratories. That was fun! And mine was right next to Hershey’s and that was a pleasure.

Well, he was an interesting man too. He was rather—you’ve probably heard from others—he was rather reserved and very focused on his work and not very sociable, but extremely generous and kind. And obviously very brilliant! He was very helpful to me.

If I had not left in 1955 when I did and if I’d stayed on and continued to be next door to Hershey, I’m sure I would have learned a lot of molecular techniques that I never learned because he was doing them all and making them seem easy. What a wonderful person!

Evelyn Witkin is a leading bacterial geneticist. She earned her Ph.D. in 1947 with Theodosius Dobzhansky at Columbia University for her Drosophila research. Her interests evolved from Drosophila genetics to bacterial genetics, and she spent the summer of 1944 at Cold Spring Harbor, where she isolated a radiation-resistant mutant of E. coli. Witkin remained at the Carnegie Institution Department of Genetics at Cold Spring Harbor until 1955.

In 1971, she was appointed Professor of Biological Sciences at Douglass College, Rutgers University, and was named Barbara McClintock Professor of Genetics in 1979. Witkin moved to the Wakeman Institute at Rutgers University in 1983. Among her many honors are membership in the National Academy of Sciences (1977), Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1980), American Women of Science Award for Outstanding Research, and Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.