Hermann Joseph Muller - Personal Life and Education
Hermann Joseph Muller was an American geneticist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1946 "for the discovery that mutations can be induced by x-rays". He was the first to demonstrate a connection between radiation and genetic mutations, and wrote about the possible dangers of radiation exposure. He was also a recipient of the 1958 Darwin-Wallace Medal from the Linnean Society of London. Muller was active politically and held Communist beliefs.
Born on 21 December 1890 in New York City, Muller was educated at public schools in Harlem and the Bronx. An excellent student with a definite interest in science, he won the Cooper-Hewitt Scholarship to study at Columbia University in 1907. It was here that he became interested in biology. He read books by, amongst others, R. H. Lock and Jacques Loeb, studied under E. B. Wilson, and founded and participated in a biology club with his friends Altenburg, Sturtevant and Bridges.
Thomas Hunt Morgan was carrying out his Drosophila research work at Columbia at the time, and Muller became interested in his work. After getting his B.A. degree in 1910, he continued graduate studies at Columbia and took to dropping in at the Drosophila lab to follow the research work.
In 1911-1912, he studied metabolism at Cornell Medical School; first on a scholarship, and then a teaching fellowship in physiology. Moving back to Columbia to take up a teaching assistantship between 1912-1915, he joined the Drosophila research formally and, while he did not conduct any experiments himself, he offered theoretical ideas.
Muller was married twice and had one son. Hermann Muller died on 5 April 1967.