Warwick Kerr life and biography

Warwick Kerr picture, image, poster

Warwick Kerr biography

Date of birth : 1922-09-09
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Sao Paulo,Brazil
Nationality : Brazilian
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-12-19
Credited as : scientist, discoveries in the genetics, Introduced african bees to South America

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Warwick Estevam Kerr is a Brazilian agricultural engineer, geneticist, entomologist, professor and scientific leader, notable for his discoveries in the genetics and sex determination of bees.

The Africanized bee in the western hemisphere is directly descended from 26 Tanzanian queen bees (A. m. scutellata) accidentally released by a replacement bee-keeper in 1957 near Uberlândia, Minas Gerais State in the southeast of Brazil from hives operated by Kerr, who had interbred honey bees from Europe and southern Africa.

His scientific life began in Piracicaba, where he received his doctorate (D.Sc) and later was an assistant professor. In 1951, he did postdoctoral studies as a Visiting Professor at the University of California at Davis and, in 1952, at Columbia University, where he studied with the famous geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky.

In 1958, he was invited by Prof. Dias da Silveira to assist in organizing the Department of Biology at the Faculdade de Ciências de Rio Claro, of the recently created State University of São Paulo UNESP, in the city of Rio Claro, where he stayed until 1964, directing a research group on the genetics of bees, his main field of specialization. From 1962 to 1964, he served as the Scientific Director to organize the recently created São Paulo State Research Foundation (FAPESP).

In December 1964, he accepted the position of Full Professor of Genetics at the Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto of the University of São Paulo, in order to create a new Department of Genetics. In this capacity, Kerr was able to establish a research center of excellence, particularly in the areas of entomological genetics and human genetics, and that trained many masters and doctoral students. The department included a new research and teaching area, that of mathematical biology and biostatistics, the first of its kind in a medical school in Brazil; and was a pioneer in the use of computers in biology and medicine, particularly for genetics applied to animal husbandry.

In all these positions he never stopped his research on Meliponini, specially the genus Melipona, which is a genus of Neotropical bees that are frequently subject to the predatory action of wild honey gatherers (meleiros in Portuguese). Kerr became well known for his research on the hybridization of the African bee and the Italian bee (Apis mellifera ligustica).

Kerr has 620 publications on various subjects. Apart from being a member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, he is also a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, and of the Third World Academy of Sciences. He was admitted by President Itamar Franco to the National Order of Scientific Merit at the Grã-Cruz class in 1994.

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