January 6, 1906 (a Saturday)

George Ledyard Stebbins, Jr.

On this date, the American botanist and geneticist George Ledyard Stebbins, Jr. was born in Lawrence, New York. He is widely regarded as one of the leading evolutionary biologists and botanists of the twentieth century. His most important publication was Variation and Evolution in Plants (1950). It is regarded as one of the main publications which formed the core of the modern evolutionary synthesis and still provides the conceptual framework for research in plant evolutionary biology; according to Ernst Mayr, “Few later works dealing with the evolutionary systematics of plants have not been very deeply affected by Stebbins’ work.” Stebbins was passionate about teaching evolution, advocating during the 1960s and 70s the teaching of Darwinian evolution in public schools. He worked closely with the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study to develop high school curricula based on evolution as the central unifying principle in biology. He also opposed scientific creationism groups.

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