Keith Porter, 1939
Courtesy of the Rockefeller Archive Center
Born in 1912 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Porter acquired a love of structure while drawing maps and houses in grade school. He became passionately interested in lichens and small mosses and spent hours studying their shapes on the faces of large Canadian boulders. His first interest in biology came from a high school teacher who allowed a group of boys to do laboratory experiments of their own choosing after school. Following graduation from Acadia University in 1934, with a major in biology and chemistry, he attended Harvard University from which he obtained a Ph.D. in 1938.
Porter attributed his excitement about cells to his Acadia days, when he began to wonder about the exchange between nucleus and cytoplasm: "In those days DNA hadn't been discovered and very little was known about the influence of the nucleus on development or any differentiation... I chose to mix different nuclei with the same cytoplasm or different cytoplasms with the same nucleus and they didn't develop the same which means that the cytoplasm was having a rather profound influence on the early morphogenesis of the embryo." - Entering an Unseen World, p. 45
Keith Porter, exhibit, library