The Faculty History Project documents faculty members who have been associated with the University of Michigan since 1837, and the history of the University's schools and colleges. This project is part of a larger effort to prepare resources for the University's bicentennial in 2017. Find out more.

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Frieda Cobb Blanchard

From The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science: Pioneering Lives, Volume 1
Edited by Joyce Harvey, Marilyn Ogilvie

“In the fall of 1916, after a summer helping her father with nematode research at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Frieda Cobb moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan at the request of Harley Harris Bartlett, director of the University of Michigan Botanical Gardens, and a pioneer in plant genetics. There she became not only his graduate student but also, in 1919, the assistant director of the gardens. Together, Bartlett and Cobb developed the gardens as a major center for Oenothera (evening primrose_ research as they tried to solve some of the puzzles in the newly developing science of genetics. Cobb earned her doctorate in 1920 with a study of Mendelian inheritance in certain strains of Oenothera. Because Bartlett was often away from Ann Arbor, Cobb became the active administrator at the gardens, maintaining facilities for scientific research and an atmosphere conducive to such research. That arrangement continued until the 1950s when both retired.

In 1922 Cobb married Frank N. Blanchard, a herpetologist, who had come to Michigan as a graduate student in 1915 and had later become a faculty member in zoology. The two worked together in several areas, including studies of garter snakes; Frank concentrated on life history, Frieda of genetics. Their work, carried on over many years, provided the first demonstration of Mendelian inheritance in a reptile. When Frank Blanchard died unexpectedly, in 1937, Frieda Blanchard continued their work as well as her other research raised their three children. Several generations of Michigan students appreciated her high intellectual standards and her kindness toward them.”