Evelyn Witkin on Humorous Story from the Lab
  Evelyn Witkin     Biography    
Recorded: 01 Jun 2000

I can tell you one. Now this is not about one of the people on the staff here. It was about someone who came to work here. His name was Gabriel Gasiç. I don’t know if his name has occurred to you—he had come from somewhere in South America. I don’t remember which country. And he came to stay for a year or more. He had a terrible time learning English. I’ve never seen anyone struggle so hard. He would sit with a newspaper and a dictionary underlining words. He worked so hard at it. And he never got to the point where he could really have a conversation with anyone. And one time someone gave a New Years Eve party and he came late. He was rushing around—something kept him. He walked into this room and he said, “Excuse please my behind!”

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.