Arthur Galston, Ph.D.

Arthur Galston, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus
Phone: (203) 432-3509

I came to Yale in 1955 as a Professor of Plant Physiology in the old Department of Botany, having previously been an Associate Professor at the California Institute of Technology. I was the first occupant of the new Gibbs Laboratory, occupying the entire south wing of the fifth floor. Within two years, this floor was full, with 10 grad students, 3 postdocs and 2 technicians. By the time I faced mandatory retirement at age 70 in 1990, I had overseen 24 Ph. D. students and 67 postdocs from 16 countries. In 1961, working with Edgar J. Boell, I was instrumental in fusing Botany with Zoology to form the Department of Biology, and planned the first unified Biology course taught by the new Department. In 1966-7, I served as President Kingman Brewster's Director of the Division of Biological Sciences and in 1985-8, was Chairman of Biology under Bart Giammati. I opposed the dismemberment of Biology into MCDB and EEB, but note with pleasure the recent strengthening of organismal biology in EEB.

Since retirement, I have been associated with the Institution for Social & Policy Studies, and serve on its Executive Committee for the Interdisciplinary Bioethics Project. For 12 years, I taught College Seminars in Bioethics, and for the last two years, have taught a new introductory bioethics course in Yale College, which in 2003-4, attracted more than 460 students, making it one of the largest courses in Yale College.

My research concerned plant photobiology, hormones, protoplasts and polyamines. I have published more than 320 papers in refereed journals, as well as more than 50 articles on public affairs, several successful textbooks of plant physiology and two edited anthologies of papers in bioethics. My major research contribution was to suggest and obtain the first evidence for the role of riboflavin, rather than carotene, as the photoreceptor for phototropism (Amer. J. Bot. 36: 773-780. 1949; PNAS 35: 10-17, 1949; Science 111: 619-624, l950). This suggestion has recently been proven by others.

Because of my interest and concern with the consequences of the use of Agent Orange for defoliation operations during the Vietnam War, I travelled frequently to Vietnam, and in 1971, became the first scientist invited to the People's Republic of China. I met three heads of state, including Premier Chou En-lai of China, and through his intervention, worked for a summer on a Chinese agricultural commune, about which I later wrote a book.



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