The 1950s

co-eds on bikes

Postwar co-eds on bicycles wave before the memorial gates.

UC Davis welcomes the dawn of modern science: 1950 brings a new department, Genetics, and in 1958 the Botany Department acquires campus’ first electron microscope.

1950s: The botany department resides in an old garage near Putah Creek. Student microscopes are illuminated by light bulbs covered by asparagus cans.

1950: G. Ledyard Stebbins founds the Department of Genetics. A leading expert on plant evolution, Stebbins builds a world-renowned evolutionary biology research program at UC Davis.

1953: Katherine Esau publishes a renowned plant anatomy textbook that is still taught today.

1958: Esau acquires the Botany Department’s first electron microscope; researchers pioneer work in that emerging field.

1958: Biochemistry becomes a department. The word “agricultural” is quietly dropped from the title when a founding faculty member tells a painter to leave it off the name on the new department office’s door in Hoagland Hall.

1959: Davis begins to offer doctoral degrees in zoology.