Lewis John Stadler

Stadler, Lewis John (1896-1954) was an American geneticist who did pioneering research on the effects of X rays upon mutation in plants.

Stadler was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1896. He earned a B.S. degree in agriculture at the University of Florida in 1917, an M.A. degree in 1918, and a Ph.D. degree in field crops in 1919 at the University of Missouri (UM) at Columbia. He joined the UM Department of Field Crops faculty in 1922 and remained there until 1954. He acted as visiting professor at the California Institute of Technology in 1940, and Yale University in 1950. Beginning in 1929, he simultaneously held an appointment with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Stadler concentrated upon the study of mutation in plants, especially corn. He studied the effects of X rays on the germinal material in plants and performed comparative studies of mutation caused by X rays and by ultraviolet rays. Stadler co-discovered the fact that X rays could cause mutations in barley and corn.

A mutation can affect an individual gene or an entire chromosome. A gene mutation occurs if there are slight chemical changes in DNA. A chromosome mutation occurs if the number or arrangement of chromosomes changes.

The University of Missouri-Columbia grew into a distinguished center for agricultural genetics research under Stadler. He helped attract top-level faculty members. Many of Stadler's students went on to outstanding careers.

Stadler earned many academic honors, including the presidencies of the Genetics Society of America (1939), American Society of Naturalists (1953), and Sigma Xi (1953).