MBL | Biological Discovery in Woods Hole Contact UsDirectionsText SizeSmallMediumLarge
women of science
Ethel Harvey
Ethel Browne Harvey (1885 - 1965)

Born in Baltimore, Ethel Browne Harvey was a 1906 graduate of Goucher College. In 1907, she received her M.A. as a Goucher Fellow at Columbia University; in 1913 she received her Ph.D. in zoology under E. B. Wilson.

A student of marine biology, Harvey first came to the Marine Biological Laboratory in 1907. During the many years she spent in Woods Hole, she was a student, an investigator, and a Member of the Corporation. From 1950 to 1956, she served as a Trustee.

From 1931 to 1959, she was a member of Princeton University's biology department. Shortly after her appointment, Harvey described her experiments in the chemical creation of life. Using the eggs of sea urchins whose nuclei had been removed by centrifugal force, she showed that embryonic forms of life could be developed. As she reported, "By treating the non-nucleate fractions with parthenogenetic agents such as hypertonic sea water, they are activated and start to develop. They throw off normal fertilization membranes, division takes place, cleavage following cleavage in a fairly orderly fashion."