A man out of place: Herbert Spencer Jennings at Johns Hopkins, 1906 - 1938

Sharon Kingsland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Herbert Spencer Jennings (1868-1947) succeeded W. K. Brooks as Director of the Zoological Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University in 1910. His scientific work in the next two decades included experimental genetics of protozoa and mathematical analysis of the linear arrangement of chromosomes. At the same time, Jennings was involved in philosophical discussions of the nature of biological thought. His point of view expressed the biologist's awareness of diversity and historical process, against both the excesses of vitalism and of the modern reductionist methods of physico-chemical biology. These philosophical discussions are seen against the background of his difficulty in building up the zoological laboratory at Johns Hopkins in the 1920s, when the university tried unsuccessfully to return to the ideal of pure research which had guided it under its first president. Moreover, Jennings faced strong competition for resources from within the university itself, especially at the medical school. His position illustrates the predicament of the modern general biologist in an environment increasinglydominated by the medical sciences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)807-817
Number of pages11
JournalIntegrative and Comparative Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Plant Science


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