Barbara McClintock was born in Hartford, Connecticut, on June 16, 1902. She lived most of her childhood with her aunt and uncle because her mother had emotional problems and couldn't handle her. In 1908, she moved with her family to Brooklyn, New York, and began to have fun playing the piano and ice skating.
In 1923, Barbara received her Bachelor of Arts in the study of cells, cytology. She also received her Masters and Doctorate, using part of her time to identify corn chromosomes. In 1931, the National Research Council gave her a fellowship and for two years, she researched genetics at Cornell University, the University of Missouri, and the California Institute of Technology.
Barbara became a faculty member at the University of Missouri in 1936. She left in 1941 because she had been discriminated against because she was female. She also couldn't advance to a higher position. Instead, in 1944, she became president of the Genetics Society of America and also became the third woman to be given the honor of being named to the National Academy of Sciences.
In 1951, Barbara made one of her greatest discoveries. She stated that gene positions on chromosomes aren't fixed, but "jump" or move around in random patterns. It was this accomplishment, among others, that began to grant her many awards. The National Academy of Sciences gave her the Kimber Genetics Award (1967), she was given the National Medal of Science by President Richard Nixon (1970), and she also received the highest award available in science in the United States: the Albert Lakers Basic Medical Research Award (1981).
Barbara also received the Nobel Prize in medicine/physiology in 1983, the first woman to do so. She died nine years later on September 2, 1992.