Nellie A. Brown

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Nellie A. Brown
Brown in 1915
Born 1876
Died 1956 (aged 79–80)
Fields Botany
Institutions United States Department of Agriculture
Alma mater University of Michigan
Author abbrev. (botany) N.A.Br.

Nellie Adalesa Brown (1876–1956) was an American botanist and government researcher. Much of her research focused on plant pathology. While working with Charles Orrin Townsend[1] as assistants for Erwin Frink Smith, Brown and her colleagues described Agrobacterium tumefaciens, the organism responsible for crown gall in 1907.[2] They also identified methods of mitigation.[3][4]

Life and career[edit]

Brown graduated from University of Michigan in 1901 where she studied botany.[5] While doing post-graduate work at University of California, Brown became a member of the Torrey Botanical Club. After teaching science in Michigan and Florida high schools for 5 years, Brown became a scientific investigator in Plant Pathology at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Bureau of Plant Industry from 1906–1910.[6]

Brown was appointed assistant plant pathologist from 1910 to 1925 and appeared as the second author of two major studies on crown-galls in plants conducted by Erwin Frink Smith in 1911 and 1912. From 1915 to 1918 she began studying bacterial diseases in lettuce, and eventually published research under her own name. In 1924 she investigated apple stem-tumor, which she differentiated from crown-gall.[7]

In the mid-twenties, Brown was promoted to associate pathologist, a position she would hold until her retirement in 1941.[7]


  1. ^ "Charles Orrin Townsend, '88, M.S. '91". The Michigan Alumnus. 44: 40. 2 October 1937. 
  2. ^ Smith, E. F.; Townsend, C. O. (1907). "A Plant-Tumor of Bacterial Origin". Science. 25 (643): 671–673. PMID 17746161. doi:10.1126/science.25.643.671. 
  3. ^ Smith, E. F.; Brown, N. A.; Townsend, C. O. (1911). Crown-gall of Plants: Its Cause and Remedy. U.S. Government Printing Office
  4. ^ Smith, E. F.; Brown, N. A.; McCulloch, L. (1912). "The structure and development of crown gall: a plant cancer". Bulletin of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. U.S. Government Printing Office. 255. 
  5. ^ Staff report (June 1914). News from the Classes. Michigan Alumnus
  6. ^ Staff report (Mar 11, 1917). Varied Activities of Women. Chicago Tribune
  7. ^ a b Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey; Harvey, Joy Dorothy, eds. (2000). The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science: Pioneering Lives from Ancient times to the Mid-20th Century. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-92038-8. 
  8. ^ IPNI.  N.A.Br. 

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