We reached out to our Editors-in-Chief, to speak to their thoughts on Barbara McClintock and her pioneering work:
Irina Arkhipova, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA
Barbara McClintock’s 1956 paper “Controlling elements and the gene” in Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology was the first I had to study in preparation for my Ph.D. qualifying exam. Fortunately, the corresponding volume was readily available on the shelves of our library at the Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology in Moscow. Of course at that time I could not yet imagine that decades later I would be visiting Cold Spring Harbor as an organizer of a transposable element meeting, and would get a chance to hold in my hands a set of corn ears with multicolored kernels from her collection.
Kathleen Burns, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School, USA
I had the great pleasure of serving as the Opponent for Dr. Tatiana Cajuso defending her Ph.D. in Lauri Aaltonen’s research group at the University of Helsinki last year.
Tatiana included a quote attributed to Dr. Barbara McClintock in the forward of her thesis:
“If you know you are on the right track, if you have this inner knowledge, then nobody can turn you off … no matter what they say.”
As our field moves forward to more fully appreciate the wonders of mobile elements in genomes, it is great that we stop each year to celebrate McClintock’s scientific legacy and reflect on her sense of purpose. And that we recognize the connection between her track and ours.
Pascale Lesage, INSERM, France
Beyond her major discovery of transposable elements nearly 70 years ago, Barbara McClintock is a source of inspiration for her creativity, her keen sense of observation, and her intuition to understand the underlying biological phenomena. She had the courage to challenge prevailing theories. In today's fast-paced world, it is important to remember that research requires time and freedom of thought.