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women of science
Sister Florence Marie Scott
Sister Florence Marie Scott (1902 - 1965)

Born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1902, Sister Florence was already a member of the Sisters of Charity when she received her B.A. from Seton Hill College in 1926. From Columbia University she received both her M.A. (1927) and her Ph.D. (1935). While at Columbia, her major professor was James McGregor, and among the committee members for her final examination for the Ph.D. were E. B. Wilson, G. N. Calkins, Franz Schrader, and L. G. Barth, all famous biologists with strong ties to the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole.

Sister Florence Marie's thirty-two years of association with the MBL began in 1929, when she was enrolled in the embryology course. At that time she was a member of the biology department of Seton Hill College. She became a Member of the MBL Corporation and was later elected a trustee.

Her major research on tissue affinity in tunicates was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and demonstrated the ability of like tissues in this lower life form to unite with their own kind and to then form a new organ. As Sister Florence described the process, "It doesn't make any difference how you separate them (the tissues) or what you do to them. Once they're mixed together again, they'll reject other tissues and find their missing parts. Then they reassemble into the organ of which they're a part."

She considered college teaching her main work and spoke modestly of her scientific contributions: "I am often asked the significance of my research to anything practical such as a cure for cancer or a finding of means of transplanting healthy tissues to sides where disease has destroyed organs. My kind of research, 'basic' or 'pure,' provides information that may find useful application by those whose interest is devoted to clinical research."

Sister Florence was greatly admired not only by her fellow scientists at the MBL but also by the many others in Woods Hole who fondly remember her smiling presence and warm personality.