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May 14: Genetics in the Atomic Age

May 13, 2016

Lotte-Auerbach-Wadd-birthday-albumCharlotte "Lottie" Auerbach, a geneticist who fled Nazi Germany in 1933 and built a career in Edinburgh, where her work on mutations proved to be classified and could not be published until 1947, was born within a family of scientists in Krefeld, Germany on this date in 1899. Auerbach was a pioneering geneticist, an expert on radiation, chemicals, and genetic mutations, and author of ninety-six scientific papers and a book, Genetics in the Atomic Age (1956). She was also an active supporter of nuclear disarmament and opponent of the system of apartheid. "She had a great love of children," notes Geoffrey Beale at the Jewish Women's Archive, "and confessed to several of her friends who had families that she would have sacrificed all her fame as a scientist for the satisfaction of having her own family. In fact, she did unofficially 'adopt' two boys," one German and one Italian, and she wrote a book for children. Among her many rewards was the Darwin Award of the Royal Society in 1977. Auerbach lived to 95.

"I'd rather be a lab girl in Scotland than a professor in Germany." —Charlotte Auerbach