Recorded: 01 Jun 2000
He [Dobzhansky] was wonderful. He gave me a great deal of freedom. He was always available to talk about things but as an example of saying, why don’t you go learn about bacteria? His own work was so centered on population genetics and Drosophila but he never tried to steer me to population genetics because I was interested in mutations. He was a very wonderful advisor in the sense that he had rigorous standards and yet he allowed a lot of freedom. It was good for me because I needed someone who would be critical of what I was doing.
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.