William Lawrence Tower

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William Lawrence Tower (1872–??) was an American zoologist, born in Halifax, Massachusetts.[1][2] He was educated at the Lawrence Scientific School (Harvard), the Harvard Graduate School, and the University of Chicago (B. S., 1902), where he taught thereafter, becoming associate professor in 1911.[3]

Research[edit]

Tower was notable for his experimental work in heredity, investigating the inheritance of acquired characteristics and the laws of heredity in beetles and publishing An Investigation of Evolution in Chrysomelid Beetles of the Genus Leptinotarsa (1906). This study is probably the first (albeit possibly discredited) of mutation in animals.[4][5] He published also The Development of the Colors and Color Patterns of Coleoptera (1903) and, with Coulter, Castle, Davenport and East, an essay on Heredity and Eugenics (1912).

Tower was caught up in personal and professional scandals. He resigned from the University of Chicago in 1917 following a very public divorce, but by then he had become a source of discontent among students and faculty. His professed atheism caused offense to some, including graduate student Warder Clyde Allee. Tower caused political friction within the department and many members distrusted his professional ethics.[6] Experimental results which Tower reported in 1906 and 1910 were found to include serious discrepancies which he declined to explain. His claim that experimental results had been lost in a fire increased his colleagues' skepticism. William Bateson, T. D. A. Cockerell, and R. A. Gortner were particularly critical of his work.[7] A more positive reception came from the botanist Henry Chandler Cowles.[8]

It was suggested that his research may have been faked.[9] The geneticist William E. Castle who visited Tower's laboratory was not impressed by the experimental conditions. He later concluded that Tower had faked his data. Castle found the fire suspicious and also Tower's claim that a steam leak in his greenhouse had destroyed all his beetle stocks.[10]

Publications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Harvard College (1780– ), Class of 1897. "William Lawrence Tower". Twenty-fifth Anniversary Report, 1897–1922. p. 558.  There seems to be no evidence that W. L. Tower was alive in 1923. Was he missing and presumed death in Tampico?
  2. ^ "Tower, William Lawrence". The book of Chicagoans. Chicago: A. A. Marquess & Co. 1917. p. 680. 
  3. ^ William Lawrence Tower appears twice (as of September 2014) in the Biography and Genealogy Master Index. He is listed in vol. 15 of the National Cyclopedia of American Biography (published in 1916). He is also included in the 1969–1973 edition of Who Was Who in America, but the information there is not up-to-date; an article that appeared 6 May 1917 in the Chicago Tribune indicates that he resigned from the U. of Chicago and moved to Arizona. Later articles indicate that Tower was a member of the officers' reserve corps. (information provided by U. of Chicago Library Service)
  4. ^ Sokoloff, A. (1966). The Genetics of Tribolium and Related Species. Academic Press, New York.
  5. ^ Hawthorne, David J. (2001) AFLP-Based Genetic Linkage Map of the Colorado Potato Beetle Leptinotarsa decemlineata: Sex Chromosomes and a Pyrethroid-Resistance Candidate Gene. Genetics 158: 695-700
  6. ^ Mitman, Gregg (1992). The State of Nature: Ecology, Community, and American Social Thought, 1900-1950. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 52, 97. Google Books.
  7. ^ Weinstein, Alexander. (1998). A Note on W. L. Tower's Lepinotarsa Work. In Ernst Mayr, Will Provine. The Evolutionary Synthesis: Perspectives on the Unification of Biology. Harvard University Press. pp. 352-353. ISBN 0-674-27226-9
  8. ^ Cowles, Henry Chandler. (1907). Evolution in the Potato Beetles. An Investigation of Evolution in Chrysomelid Beetles of the Genus Leptinotarsa by W. L. Tower. Botanical Gazette. Vol. 44, No. 6, pp. 456-457.
  9. ^ Mitman, Gregg. (1992). The State of Nature: Ecology, Community, and American Social Thought, 1900-1950. University of Chicago Press. p. 219. ISBN 0-226-53236-4
  10. ^ Kohler, Robert E. (2002). Landscapes and Labscapes: Exploring the Lab-Field Border in Biology. University of Chicago Press. pp. 202-204. ISBN 0-226-45009-0

Further reading[edit]

  • Bateson, William. (1913). Problems of Genetics. Yale University Press.
  • Cockerell, T. D. A. (1910). The Modification of Mendelian Inheritance by Extreme Conditions. American Naturalist 44: 747-749.
  • Gortner, R. A. (1911). Studies on Melanin IV. The Origin of the Pigment and the Color Pattern in the Elytra of the Colorado Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata Say). American Naturalist 45: 743-755.
  • Kohler, Robert E. (2002). Landscapes and Labscapes: Exploring the Lab-Field Border in Biology. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-45009-0

External links[edit]