Aarhus Universitets segl

CSS Colloquium: Yafeng Shan, University of Kent

The Myths of Mendel

Oplysninger om arrangementet


Onsdag 28. september 2022,  kl. 14:15 - 15:30


1531-215 (D3)


Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) is widely credited as the father of genetics. His work on peas inspired a distinctive approach to the study of heredity at the turn of the 20th century and ultimately played an important role in the establishment of classical genetics in the 1910s and 1920s. According to a popular narrative, Mendel was a lonely monk, planting peas in a remote monastery. He published his work in an obscure local journal which was completely overlooked until 1900 when three botanists rediscovered his law of inheritance. Mendel’s plant experiments were highly regarded as an exemplar in the study of heredity. However, such an account has been challenged. Many showed that Mendel’s concern was not the mechanism of inheritance. And some even challenged the legitimacy of the data used by Mendel. It seems that Mendel’s data was too good to be true.

In this talk, I will revisit two persistent puzzles: Was Mendel’s work neglected and rediscovered? Was Mendel a fraud? I will argue that Mendel’s work was not neglected in academia, though its significance was overlooked by those who were studying the problem of heredity. I will also show that the fraud problem is flawed for its misleading historiographical assumptions.

Coffee, tea, cakes and fruit will be served before the colloquium @ 2 pm.