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Cultivating Silence: Nikolai Vavilov and the Suppression of Science in the Modern Era

Friday, December 24, 2021 at 8:00am to 5:00pm

Mann Library, Lobby
Cornell University Mann Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

In 1932, Nikolai Vavilov, a brilliant plant geneticist of the early Soviet Union, visited Cornell to attend the Sixth International Congress of Genetics hosted at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y. Recognized for key contributions to the study of plant genetics, including his pioneering work on global centers of genetic diversity, he achieved worldwide fame in his lifetime. Yet, only a few years after his Cornell visit, Vavilov died in prison, his work ruthlessly suppressed across Russian scientific institutions of the day—with catastrophic consequences for food production in the Soviet Union. This exhibit presents a cautionary tale of ideology and research that still holds lessons for life sciences scholarship and policymaking today.

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