Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 67

Sewall Wright - Biography, Scientific achievements and credits, Wright and Philosophy, Legacy

populations genetic animal mathematical

Geneticist, born in Melrose, Massachusetts, USA. He worked in the Animal Husbandry Division of the US Department of Agriculture (1915–25), where he began his fundamental studies of the frequently negative genetic effects of inbreeding in guinea pigs. He expanded his research to demonstrate the improvement of livestock populations by crossbreeding, offspring selection, and purposeful inbreeding. At the University of Chicago (1926–54), he did most of his theoretical work on mathematical theories of population genetics. He then moved to the University of Wisconsin (1955–60), where he remained active as an emeritus professor until his death from a fall during one of his habitual walks. He is known for his theory of genetic drift, which explained the role of small populations in evolution due to random fluctuations of gene frequencies. He integrated his own research with the work of Darwin and Mendel to establish a mathematical model for the genetic evolution of human and animal populations.

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