Elected: 1972
Discipline: Cell and Molecular Biology
Professor Douglas Scott Falconer FRS FRSE
Professor Douglas Falconer was Emeritus Professor of Genetics, and formerly Professor of Genetics, Head of the Department of Genetics and Director of the AFRC Unit of Animal Genetics at the University of Edinburgh. He made major contributions to the understanding of the genetics of quantitative traits through his research, teaching and writing, notably his book ‘Introduction to Quantitative Genetics’, and was elected FRSE in 1972 and FRS in 1973. He was born in Old Meldrum, Aberdeenshire on 10 March 1913, and died in Edinburgh on 23 February, 2004, aged 90.

Falconer’s parents were from Edinburgh, neither coming from a scientific background. His father was a minister of the United Free Church, whose first parish was where Douglas was born, but the family returned to Edinburgh soon after. He attended Edinburgh Academy where he developed an interest in science, although biology was not taught. His university education was delayed for five years as he contracted tuberculosis, and he did not start at St Andrews University until 1936. There he was particularly influenced by D’Arcy Thompson, graduating with first class honours in Zoology in 1940. Apparently Thompson would have awarded the degree without an exam, but the Dean prevailed, and a nominal oral was held. From there Falconer went to Cambridge and took a PhD under James Gray, working on the behaviour of wireworms. From 1943-5 he held a temporary lectureship at Queen Mary College, London, then based in Cambridge.

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