Barbara McClintock was an American scientist whose studies in genetics helped shape our modern understandings of genetic inheritance. Her work with corn proved that genes could change positions on a chromosome from generation to generation. This finding explained variations in offspring that weren’t caused by mutations.
McClintock’s work was ahead of its time. For many years it was considered too radical and was ignored by her fellow scientists. It wasn’t until the late 1960s and 1970s, after biologists had determined that the genetic material was DNA, that members of the scientific community began to accept her early findings. In 1983, she became the first American woman to win an unshared Nobel Prize.