Agnes Arber Facts

Agnes Arber Facts
Agnes Arber (February 23, 1879 = March 22, 1960) was a leading botanist and plant morphologist, holding several degrees and honors. Her work later turned to botanical philosophy, focusing on the nature of study and research, and led to her most well-known contribution, the partial shoot theory of the leaf.
Interesting Agnes Arber Facts:
Arber was one of four children born to painter Henry Robertson, and as such learned to draw at an early age.
This study in early art helped Arber later on as she illustrated her published botany books herself.
After attending a prestigious school for girls that focused on serious academics rather than the usual liberal arts and homemaking curriculum, she went on to writer her first published piece of research at the age of fifteen.
This led to a scholarship to University College in London where she earned her first college degree at the age of twenty.
During this time, Arber worked in Ethel Sargent's private laboratory, furthering her interest in botany while working towards a degree in natural sciences.
Sargent taught Arber much about the techniques involved in microscopic study, which helped Arber in her primary research field, monocotyledons.
After earning her doctorate in 1905, Arber continued her research and eventually published her first book, Herbals, Their Origin and Evolution, in 1912.
In 1909, Arber married a paleobotanist by the name of Edward Alexander Newall Arber and had one child, a daughter named Muriel.
Newall Arber died after a brief illness only nine years after he married Agnes, and she never remarried.
Some of Arber's important contributions to botany include studies of the nature of certain monocots, including cereals, grains, grasses, and bamboo, all of which have vital nutritional and industrial purposes.
Throughout the course of her decades-long career, Arber wrote and published several books on botany, history of botany, and the philosophy of research as it relates to plant morphology.
When supplies became scarce during World War II, Arber abandoned applied research and focused instead on philosophy, writing the biographies of a number of famous botanists and translating a 1790 work by Goethe on the nature of plants.
Arber's partial-shoot theory of leaves is still widely attributed as an important contribution to biology, and recent genetic studies have actually led more support for this theory.
In partial-shoot theory, Arber hypothesized that leaves are actually just shoots that never reached full shoot status due to limitations of the capacity for apical growth and radial symmetry.
At age 67, Arber was the first female botanist to be selected as a Fellow of the Royal Society, making her only the third woman ever elected at that time.
She was the also first woman to be awarded the Gold Medal of the Linnean Society of London when she was 69 years old, all related to her contributions to the field of botany.
Arber spent the last fifty-plus years of her life in Cambridge, and died at age 81.


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