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Morris, Rosalind, 1920-



  • Existence: 1920


Rosalind Morris (1920-), University of Nebraska professor of plant cytogenetics (1947-1990), is internationally recognized for her pioneering work in wheat cytogenetics and the effects of irradiation on corn. She is the first woman to be named a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy.

M. Rosalind Morris was born on May 8, 1920 in Ruthin, North Wales. The 1918 influenza outbreak left her father in poor health, so in 1925, the family immigrated to Canada for a quieter life. They purchased a fruit farm in rural Ontario, Canada, where Rosalind became interested in agriculture.

Morris received a Bachelor of Science and Arts in horticulture from Ontario Agricultural College in 1942. In 1947, she and Leona Schnell became the first women to receive PhDs in plant breeding and genetics from Cornell University. Morris initially studied fruit plant breeding at Cornell, but transitioned to the study of crop plants. Morris came to the University of Nebraska in 1947 as an assistant in the newly created plant cytogenetics program. She worked on an Atomic Energy Commission grant led by E.L. Frolik to study the cytogenetic effects of atomic irradiation on corn. To receive the samples for her studies, she harvested corn tassels and shipped them in dry ice by air to the Argonne Laboratory near Chicago, where they were exposed to radiation and returned for study.

As the first woman on the Agronomy Department faculty, Morris became an assistant professor (1951), associate professor (1953), and professor (1958-1990). In 1956, on a Guggenheim Fellowship, she spent nine months studying the irradiation effects on crops plants in Sweden and England. After her fellowship, she changed her research focus from irradiation effects to the cytogenetics of bread wheat. Morris is most notable for her contributions in wheat cytogenetic stocks and substitution lines of Chinese Spring, Cheyenne, and Wichita wheat varieties. Her substitution lines have helped researchers study the effects of single chromosomes on hardiness, frost tolerance, flour quality, protein quantity, and other variations in winter wheat.

Morris received a fellowship to the American Society of Agronomy (1980), Crop Science Society of America (1985), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She served as President of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, the first woman in over 50 years. Morris also received an Outstanding Scientist Award from Sigma Xi-Nebraska Chapter, a Women of Distinction award from Soroptimist International of Lincoln, a Distinguished Service to Agriculture award from Gamma Sigma Delta-Nebraska Chapter, and several others.

Sources: Rosalind Morris resume and UNL annual report of activities (box 1, folder 8-9), obituary (box 1, folder 4), her article, “Retrospection on a Career in Plant Genetics,” A Spectrum of Achievements in Agronomy: Women Fellows of the Tri-Societies (box 2, folder 16), and various journal and newspaper articles from “Articles on Rosalind Morris, 1946-2008” (box 1, folder 4).

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Rosalind Morris, Agronomy Papers

Identifier: RG-08-08-17
Scope and Contents The Rosalind Morris, Agronomy Papers relate to Morris’s pioneering research on wheat cytogenetics and correspondence about distribution of seed lines and data books on Cheyenne, Wichita, and Chinese Spring wheat strands. Teaching materials include syllabi and lecture notes from the classes Agronomy 918: Plant Cytogenetics and Agronomy 919: Experiments in Genetics. Also included are correspondence between E. F. Frolik and Robert Cushing in 1947 regarding her appointment to the university, as...
Dates: 1940-2009