Recorded: 01 Jun 2000
She had a marvelous sense of humor; I don’t know if anybody knows that. She had a really amazing laugh. It really shook the building when she thought something was really funny. We did a lot of laughing. Taking a walk with her down Bungtown Road was a real lesson in Botany because she would always stop and point out something unusual about some little flower that I never would have even paid any attention to. Anything that was alive was of interest to her. And she would see surprising things in it.
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.