Like Thomas Hunt Morgan, Wilson first visited the Woods Hole US Fish Commission as a graduate student at the Johns Hopkins University. Wilson quickly realized the beauty of Whitman’s suggestion that different researchers ask the same questions about different organisms. He carried out cell lineage studies at first in the polychaete worm Nereis.

Nereis HoverTouch to magnify

In meticulous and detailed studies, he worked with a photographer to record the process of fertilization and cell division in a volume published in 1895. His outstanding Cell in Development and Inheritance appeared in 1896 and became a classic for MBL researchers and other biologists.

wilson HoverTouch to magnify
mit_a HoverTouch to magnify
mit_b HoverTouch to magnify
(MBL History Project)

A long-time Trustee who returned to the MBL most summers for the rest of his life, Wilson was a great supporter of the MBL. He encouraged study of marine invertebrates in order to understand fundamental biological processes. And he emphasized the value of using the best methods for preparing, presenting, and picturing cells as the basic units of life.

1. Still Image: "Photograph of Edmund Beecher Wilson with his head resting on his hand", https://hdl.handle.net/1912/17067

2. Wikimedia Commons contributors, "File:Nereis pelagica.jpg," Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Nereis_pelagica.jpg&oldid=479543751 (accessed December 12, 2021).

3. Wilson, Edmund Beecher. An Atlas of the Fertilization and Karyokinesis of the Ovum. New York: Macmillan, 1895. Plate VIII, Figures 29-32, and Page 26, Figure XVI, A and B. https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/bibliography/6244.

4. Still Image: "Edmund Beecher Wilson Exhibit Poster", https://hdl.handle.net/1912/21902