Tag Archives: Keith R. Porter


Prof. Keith R. Porter (right) receives the USA National Medal of Science from President Jimmy Carter (left) at the White House in 1977.  Photograph by an unnamed White House staff photographer.
Prof. Keith R. Porter (right) receives the USA National Medal of Science from President Jimmy Carter (left) at the White House in 1977.  Photograph by an unnamed White House staff photographer.


In this series, I am recommending to you a few life stories about real scientists.  I prefer to let these scientists tell their own stories where possible.  Autobiographical accounts are interesting and entertaining for both non-scientists and other scientists.  My selections here mostly involve scientists I either know personally or at least know about.  If further materials like this are needed, they can be obtained readily on the internet or with input from librarians at public or university libraries, science teachers, and other scientists.

In the preceding Part 1 of this series, the life story of a world-renowned research scientist working in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology was recommended (see “Scientists Tell Us About Their Life and Work, Part 1”).  Part 2 presents fascinating materials about a wonderful research leader who was instrumental in founding 2 different bioscience societies, and was a pioneer in discovering how to get cells to reveal their secrets by means of electron microscopy.

Part 2 Recommendations:  CELL BIOLOGY

Prof. Keith R. Porter (1912 – 1997) is renowned today as a major co-founder of the modern science discipline, cell biology.  With his pioneering use of electron microscopy, he was able to define the organelles and macromolecular assemblies found inside cells, thereby setting the stage for interpreting other research findings coming from biochemistry, biophysics, cell physiology, and molecular genetics.  These results and his new concepts caused a large breakthrough in our understanding about relationships between structure and function in eukaryotic cells.  A good number of Porter’s younger associates in cell biology, experimental cellular pathology, and neuroscience went on to become famous research leaders.  Prof. Porter was honored with the USA National Medal of Science by President Jimmy Carter in 1977.

I am recommending 3 different articles about this outstanding biomedical scientist.  The first is a memoir about Prof. Porter composed by one of his long-time research co-workers, Prof. Lee D. Peachey (University of Pennsylvania); it includes several candid photographs from different periods in Porter’s career, some of which reflect his enthusiastic sense of humor.  The second nicely describes his many important activities and different research accomplishments.  The third is one of Porter’s own articles, relating the difficult technical innovations and engineering efforts needed to invent and develop effective methods for making meaningful images of cells and their internal parts with the electron microscope.

Peachey, L.D., 2006.  Keith Roberts Porter, biographical memoirs.  Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society  150:685-696.  Available on the internet at:
http://www.amphilsoc.org/sites/default/files/proceedings/150416.pdf/ .

University of Colorado Libraries (Boulder), 2014.  Biographical Sketch.  In: Guide to the Keith R. Porter Papers (1938-1993), Archives, pages 3-5.  Available on the internet at:
https://ucblibraries.colorado.edu/archives/guides/porter_guide.pdf .

Pease, D.C. & Porter, K.R., 1981.  Electron microscopy and ultramicrotomy.  Journal of Cell Biology  91:287s-292s.  Available on the internet at:
http://jcb.rupress.org/content/91/3/287s.full.pdf .




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