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 Sergey Chetverikov

Born:   April 24, 1880
Deceased:   July 2, 1959

Eminent Russian biologist and evolution geneticist


Sergey Chetverikov, eminent Russian biologist and evolution geneticist, was born on April 24, 1880, in Moscow to the family of a manufacturer, owner of a fulling plant. His relatives were decent, well-educated people – famous Konstantin Stanislavsky was a cousin of Sergey’s mother. Young Sergey got a good primary education at home, where he learnt to respect any kind of labor and to love nature.

Secondary education Sergey received in a non-classical private secondary school, which he finished with a gold medal in 1897. In 1900 future researcher started his long way as a biologist, when he entered natural department of the faculty of physics and mathematics of Moscow University against his father’s will. At the university young man fell over lepidopterans (butterflies and moths, Lepidoptera in Latin) and two years later published first scientific works. The same year Sergey Chetverikov went out to his first grand zoological expedition, during which collected many butterflies of West Sayan Mountains. In 1904 young scientist participated in another expedition: Zaisan Lake and Tarbagatay ridge.

In 1905 his paper about supplements to butterfly fauna of the Moscow province was published, and the same year Sergey Chetverikov wrote a very interesting paper, characterizing butterfly population waves. At the time of graduating from the university, Sergey was already an eminent researcher, author of ten papers, interesting both for entomologists and general biologists. After graduation Sergey Chetverikov was continued in the university “for preparation to professor’s title”. Between 1909 and 1918 Sergey taught entomology at Higher Courses for Women.

Chetverikov’s master’s dissertation was dedicated to freshwater isopod – water slater (Asellus aquaticus L.), where the scientist made important conclusions about role of exoskeleton in evolution of arthropods. In 1911 Sergey Chetverikov successfully defended his dissertation and became master of zoology.



During world war I Sergey Chetverikov was dealing with general issues of biology, evolution theory and genetics and kept studying his beloved butterflies. Moreover, the scientist did enormous work on organizing Moscow Entomology Society. In 1919 Sergey Chetverikov was employed in Moscow University as a docent of experimental zoology department, headed by Nikolay Koltsov. Chetverikov supervised practical works in experimental zoology, biometry and genetics, and headed department of genetics in the Institute of Experimental Biology. In 1926 the scientist published the paper “On some aspects of evolution process from the point of modern genetics”, where showed that evolution and genetics didn’t contradict each other, moreover, genetic data should have been the basis for variability theory and the key to understanding how evolution worked. Sergey Chetverikov proved that mutations (gene variations) didn’t disappear in natural animal populations, but could accumulate in hidden (heterozygous) state, thus providing ground for variability and natural selection. That was how the scientist managed to connect Darwin’s evolution theory with hereditary laws of genetics, thus giving birth to new science – evolution and population genetics, and making Sergey Chetverikov one of the brightest biologists of the world.

As an object for his studies Sergey Chetverikov chose natural populations of fruit flies. First results were reported in 1927 during V International genetic congress in Berlin – that really was a sensation. Sergey Chetverikov was not only a brilliant scientist, but also a great teacher and founder of his own scientific school, where many great scientists, such as Nikolay Timofeev-Resovsky, were brought up.

In 1929 Chetverikov was arrested and exiled to Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg) for three years. Having no permission for return to Moscow, the scientist moved to Vladimir, where kept teaching biology. Between 1935 and 1948 Sergey Chetverikov headed the department of genetics and selection of Gorky (now Nizhniy Novgorod) State University. During Great Patriotic War the researcher was elected the dean of the faculty, and later received several high military awards. In 1945 Sergey Chetverikov became the doctor of science without dissertation defense.

In August 1948 after reformation of teaching biology Sergey Chetverikov left the university, but kept studying butterflies despite progressive eyesight deterioration. In late fifties of the 20th century the resurrection of Soviet biology began. In 1957 Sergey Chetverikov was elected honorary member of Entomology Society, and in 1959 he was awarded a prestigious medal.

Eminent scientist died on July 2, 1959.


Kizilova Anna


Tags: Russian science Russian scientists Russian biologists Sergei Chetverikov  

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