Saturday, October 22, 2016

Biography of Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher

Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher (1890 – 1962), British statistician and geneticist who pioneered the application of statistical procedure to the design of scientific experiments. He received a knighthood in 1952.

Twin sons were born in February 17, 1890, London, England, to Fisher’s father, a British auctioneer. One of them soon died, and Ronald was survivor.

Studied at Gonville and Caius College Cambridge, Fisher graduated in mathematics in 1913 and spent two years as a statistician with an investment company. Fisher’s interests were broad, including astronomy, mathematics, physics and biology.

In 1918 Fisher published the results of his statistical analysis of characters that show continuous variation, such as human stature. Fisher argued that the effects of dominance and gene interaction would confuse the actual genetic similarity between relatives,

Too short sighted for military services, he taught at Rugby School for the duration of World War 1.

Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher
Fisher started his mathematical career when he joined Rothamsted Experimental Station in 1919, with the task of sorting and analyzing numerous field data.

By his treatment (partition) of the statistical variance, he was able to distinguish between variation due to environmental factors and that due to genetic factors; the latter were confirmed as being largely determined by the cumulative effects of many separate genes, each inherited according to Mendelian principle.

Fisher subsequently did much to improve experimental methodology by introducing the concepts of random sampling and the technique of analysis of variance, which qualifies sources of variations in an experiment. In the paper ‘On the Mathematical Foundation of Theoretical Statistics’ (1922) he developed a sensible theory of estimation.

His books notably Statistical Methods for Research Workers (1925), The Design of Experiment (1935), and Statistical Tables (1938), form the foundation of statistical analysis in modern biological experimentation.

Fisher’s mathematical study of genes and their mutations populations demonstrated how Mendelian genetics is consistent with the Darwinian view of evolution by natural selection, making The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection (1930) one of the seminal works of neo-Darwinism.

Fisher became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1929. In 1933 he was appointed Galton Professor of Eugenics at University College, London, and thereafter professor of genetics at Cambridge University (1943 – 57) until his retirement.

From 1960 he spent the remainder of his life working for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Adelaide, Australia.
Biography of Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher
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