Hermann J. Muller: IU Nobelist

Early Life

Edgar Altenburg, standing outdoors at the University of Texas

Edgar Altenburg at the University of Texas in 1917 or 1918.

1906 Morris High School Science Club

The Morris Science Club. Muller is just right of center in the front row.

Muller attended Morris High School in the Bronx, where he met his lifelong friend and future fellow geneticist Edgar Altenburg. They helped found the Morris Science Club. An excellent student, Muller was school valedictorian and spoke on "The Need for Higher Ideals in Business and Politics" at his graduation. Society's lack of higher ideals frustrated him throughout his life.

Notes on cell division from Edward B. Wilson's class in biology at Columbia

Wilson was especially well known for his studies of cell division. These pictures from Muller's notebook for Wilson's course depict the process of meiosis.

Supported by a city scholarship, Muller started at Columbia University in 1907 at age 16. He pursued his passions for politics, joining the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, and for science, studying biology. The Columbia biology department, chaired by the renowned zoologist, cell biologist, and early geneticist E.B. Wilson, was considered one of the best in the nation. The introductory biology class, taught by a former student of Wilson, J. H. McGregor, introduced Muller to the power of evolutionary theory--something that had been absent from his high school education. Wilson himself was a giant in Muller’s life. His own course covered a great deal of what had only recently begun to be called genetics.

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