Oppenheimer, Jane M. (Jane Marion), 1911-1996

The embryologist Jane M. Oppenheimer was born in Philadelphia on September 19, 1911, and received her bachelors' degree in Zoology from Bryn Mawr College in 1932. She entered graduate school at Yale under the direction of John Spangler Nicholas, receiving her PhD in 1935 for a dissertation on the embryology of the killifish Fundulus heteroclitus in which she developed a novel methodology for dechorionating the embryo, making precise experimental manipulations of teleost embryos possible.

Oppenheimer returned to Bryn Mawr in 1938 as an instructor in biology, and remained there until her retirement in 1980, eventually rising to become William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Biology and History of Science. Perhaps her most important work was done in the four years immediately prior to her arrival at Bryn Mawr, when she performed a series of grafting experiments that demonstrated homology between the dorsal lips of teleost and amphibian embryos. She also developed accurate fate maps of the teleost embryo blastoderm and charted cell movement in gastrulation.


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