Letter from Harold Frank Robinson to Barbara McClintock
After returning from a tour of Latin American agricultural institutions, Robinson told McClintock which scholars and institutions
he believed would benefit most from her assistance in the Rockefeller Foundation's program to promote scientific cooperation
and enhance agricultural yields in Latin America.
Number of Image Pages:
4 (335,108 Bytes)
1961-09-22 (September 22, 1961)
Robinson, Harold Frank
Original Repository: American Philosophical Society. Library. Barbara McClintock Papers
Reproduced with permission of North Carolina State University.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
International Educational Exchange
Box Number: 1
Folder Number: 8
September 22, 1961
This is the information I told you I would provide concerning possibilities as I see them for training and research in cytogenetics
of maize in Latin America. The six weeks' trip with Ed Wellhausen was extremely beneficial for me and we covered some
25,000 miles visiting Colombia, Equador, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico. Much time was given in the search for
persons interested in and talented for cytogenetics research. These are prospects for the immediate future and all are extremely
interested in study and work with you:
1. Ing (?) Kato, Escuela Nacional de Agricultura, Chapingo, Mexico
2. Jose Blanco, Estacion Exp. de Pergamino, Casilla de Correo 31
3. Almiro Blumenshein, Escuela Superior de Agricultura, University of Sao Paulo, Piracicaba, Brazil
4. Alfonzo Chirinos, Universidad Agraria, Apartado 456, La Molina, Lima, Peru
5. Julio Safonti, Instituto Nacional de Tecnologia Agropecuaria, Buenos Aires, Argentina
I have listed these people in the order of my impression as to their potential and readiness to participate in training and
research with you. Now I would give my evaluation based on limited knowledge of each.
He is a Mexican citizen and his parents came to Mexico from Japan. He has just completed his Ing. Agronomo degree on cytogenetics
of maize while working with A. E. Longley. It was reported to me that his thesis on chromosome knob studies of certain collections
was very good and should be submitted for publication. He appears to be Ph.D. caliber and would like to come to the United
States to work on the degree. Dr. Wellhausen is planning for him to do the M.S. degree at Chapingo, learn more English and
come here in July or September 1962. He is about 25-28 years old and speaks poor English.
2. Blanco (Jose)
There are two of the Blanco brothers working the corn breeding program with Rossi at Pergaminco (Arg.) which is considered
home to them. They left Spain and went to Argentina in February 1961 to escape an unbearable life in Spain. Jose impresses
me as the sharper of the two and very capable of good research. He is 42 years old and doing routine corn breeding with great
hopes of getting back to cytogenetics. He was doing some cytogenetics of chromosome knobs until 1952 but has not been able
to continue the work.
Officials in Argentina assured me that he would be made available for further training and research with you. Copies of some
of his publications are attached. Blanco speaks good English.
3. Almiro Blumenshein
Dr. Brieger considers him as one of the most capable young men at Piracicaba. You may have already seen reports of his work
on orchids. He sent me a copy of his thesis on orchid cytogenetics done with Brieger. He is about 28-30 years old, speaks
very little English and expresses great interest in cytogenetics of maize and the opportunity to train and work with you.
Whether Brieger will allow him to concentrate on corn is another question. I did get a promise from Brieger that Blumenshein
would now start working on corn in preparation for this training and further research.
4. Alfonzo Chirinos
This is a young Peruvian who did an outstanding job in the cytogenetics course at La Molina being offered by Dr. Jose Giles
(who studied under S. G. Stephens). He is about 22-24 years old, speaks little or no English and probably should go to Mexico
(Chapingo) immediately for the M.S. degree and prepare for training in the United States. He is extremely interested in
cytogenetics of maize and the possibility of working with you. Cerrate and the group in corn work at La Molina would be anxious
to work with Chirinos or someone in establishing a cytogenetics program in the corn research work in Peru.
5. Julio Safonti
This man is about 30-33 years of age and anxious to work in corn cytogenetics. His health is the biggest problem. There have
been both mental and physical troubles and I doubt if he could pass a physical examination required if he should wish a fellowship
and permission to leave Argentina for study. It may be possible to work with him at Pergamino where he is now working on
cytogenetics of maize.
In addition, Blumenshein and the group at Campinas told me of another "very capable young man." He is Warton Monteiro,
Rua Rio de Janeiro, 990, Apartado 110, Bolo-Horizonte, MG, Brazil. We tried to call him from Piracicaba but were unsuccessful.
I wrote to him and have just received a letter stating that he is "highly interested in training with Dr. McClintock."
He is writing to Blumenshein as I suggested to get more of the details.
I have also told you of a postdoctoral candidate from North Africa who is anxious to participate in such training and research
with you. He was trained with Burnham (University of Minnesota).
Laboratory facilities and equipment are excellent at Chapingo, Piracicaba and Pergamino. However, in Argentina the work should
be centered at Castelar which is just outside Buenos Aires and at the Agricultural School. A laboratory would have to be
established and equipped at La Molina, Peru.
I would suggest the following for consideration. These people need intensive graduate training in genetics and related subjects
as they prepare for careers in cytogenetics. When they are ready to come, which should be by July or August, 1962, and if
support from the Rockefeller Foundation or other agencies could be provided, they would be brought to N. C. State College
(or another U. S. institution with a strong genetics program) and commence training under your direction. If you approve
such a plan and these individuals based on your personal contact or by evaluation of their records and reports, they might
then be assembled here with us. We would provide a laboratory and find ways of getting the necessary microscopic equipment.
We would provide space and help grow exotic material here for the training and research programs. All of this would be done
under your supervision during the time that you could spend here.
In the summers and when training is complete, each could go to his country where you would visit and help in establishment
of his research program in cytogenetics of maize.
Possibly within a year (maybe) the building will be completed at Chapingo for living at the station. This is required if
a person is to work a part of each year with the group. Dr. Wellhausen is pushing hard on the building program but may need
a little help from higher authorities to break some barriers.
My interest in this is to promote and develop a program in which, I think, you can make tremendous contributions. I don't
want to get into it unless it is what you want. If so, then I will work on the plan and I believe we could have it underway
by mid-summer, 1962, but probably not before then. A temporary arrangement for space would be necessary here but within two
years (fall 1963) we should have a new building.
The program must be pushed if it is to be started in 1962. My further activity on this part of the Inter-American Maize Program
is for you and the Rockefeller Foundation to decide. Dr. Wellhausen will be in New York for the Director's meeting on
October 12. I hope that during his visit to New York you will have a chance to visit with him, Dr. Roberts and Dr. Moseman
about this program. I believe that I have given you sufficient information and addresses so that you could correspond with
the possible candidates.