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Nettie Stevens

AKA Nettie Maria Stevens

Born: 7-Jul-1861
Birthplace: Cavendish, VT
Died: 4-May-1912
Location of death: Baltimore, MD
Cause of death: Cancer - Breast
Remains: Buried, Cavendish Cemetery, Cavendish, VT

Gender: Female
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Biologist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: X and Y chromosomes

Nettie Stevens graduated from a public high school, then worked as a teacher for two years. She saved funds from her wages to enroll in a four-year teaching college, which she completed in just two years. Her exact whereabouts over the next several years have been lost to history, but she is known to have worked as a teacher and librarian, again putting aside much of her wages. In 1896, at the age of 35, she traveled across the American frontier and enrolled at the new Stanford University, where she earned her Master's degree in biology. She earned her doctorate at Bryn Mawr, studying under future Nobel laureate Thomas H. Morgan.

She is best known for her 1905 paper titled "Studies in Spermatogenesis with Especial Reference to the Accessory Chromosome," in which she reported experiments proving that an organism's sex is determined by the inheritance of a specific X or Y chromosome. Discovered concurrently but independently by Edmund Beecher Wilson, their work provided the first scientifically established link between inherited characteristics and a particular chromosome, and ended a long-simmering scientific debate over how an organism's sex is determined.

As Stevens' scientific reputation grew, Bryn Mawr established a professorship for her, but she contracted breast cancer and died at the age of 51, before she could accept the appointment.

Father: Ephraim Stevens (carpenter, b. 24-Mar-1833)
Mother: Julia Adams Stevens (m. 1854)
Mother: Ellen Thompson Stevens (stepmother, m. 3-Feb-1865)
Brother: Charles Merrill Stevens (d. infancy)
Sister: Emma Julia (b. 14-Jan-1863)
Brother: William Porter Stevens (d. infancy)

    High School: Westford Academy, Westford, MA (1879)
    Teacher: Biology, Lebanon High School, Lebanon, NH (1879-81)
    University: BA Education, Westfield State College (1883)
    University: BA Biology, Stanford University (1899)
    University: MA Physiology, Stanford University (1900)
    Fellow: Zoological Institute, University of Würzburg (1901-02)
    University: PhD Morphology, Bryn Mawr College (1903)
    Scholar: Biology, Bryn Mawr College (1903-04)
    Lecturer: Experimental Morphology, Bryn Mawr College (1904-05)
    Teacher: Assoc. Prof. of Morphology, Bryn Mawr College (1905-12)

    California Academy of Sciences
    English Ancestry Paternal


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