Barbara McClintock

(1902 – 1992)

Portrait of Barbara McClintok by Jack Kamen

Jack Kamen Artwork

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.

DNA Trailblazer

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.

Explore Additional Portraits in the Collection

Edwin Herbert Land
Rowland W. Redington
Mary Nicol Leakey

These portraits were commissioned by Dean Kamen for the SEE Science Center.  The artist is Jack Kamen (1920-2008), an American graphic artist and Dean’s father. The series was created to inspire children through the stories of scientists and engineers whose work changed the world.  While many of the pieces represent men, the duo worked hard to identify female scientists.  Had Jack not passed, their goal was to continue to increase representation within the collection.  The original artwork is on display at the SEE Science Center in the Jack Kamen Portrait Gallery.