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Ronald Fisher was a British statistician, professor, and geneticist. He was hailed as the single most “important figure in 20th-century statistics”. He popularized many important statistical techniques and their application to the design of scientific experiments. He was also one of the principal founders of population genetics.
See the fact file below for more information on the Ronald Fisher or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Ronald Fisher worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
EARLY LIFE OF RONALD FISHER
- Ronald Fisher was born on February 17, 1890, in London, England, to a middle-class family. He was a twin, but his twin was still-born.
- His mother died when Fisher was 14, and his father lost his auctioneering and art dealing business just over one year later.
- At the age of 14, he went to school at Harrow, winning the Neeld Medal in 1906 in a mathematical essay competition.
- Fisher was awarded an £80 scholarship from Caius and Gonville College in Cambridge, which he accepted and was grateful for since his father had lost his business a few years prior.
- In October 1909, Fisher enrolled at Cambridge, where he studied mathematics and astronomy and took an interest in biology.
- In 1911, Fisher formed a Eugenics Society at Cambridge, which attracted many students.
- In 1912, Fisher graduated with first-class honors in mathematics. This was the same year he became lifelong friends with Charles Darwin’s son, Leonard, who lectured to his Eugenics Society.
CAREER AND CONTRIBUTIONS
- Fisher’s interest in eugenics (the improvement of the human race through selective breeding) and evolution continued. He cited Charles Darwin and his son as inspirations to him.
- He began wondering if there was a way to increase the proportion of “socially strong” people.
- Between 1913 and 1919, Fisher worked as a statistician for the City of London and taught physics and math at local schools.
- With help from Leonard Darwin, he published an important paper that introduced the term “variance” and proposed its analysis.
- His paper was the first step towards establishing population and quantitative genetics.
- Between his work and contributions, Fisher married Eileen Guinness, eventually having two sons and six daughters.
- In 1919, Fisher switched gears and began working at the Rothamsted Experimental Station, where he would work for 14 years, analyzing data and crop experiments and developing his analysis of variance. He also worked on plant-breeding experiments and studied gene dominance and fitness.
- Throughout the 1920s, Fisher published various articles and papers that outlined his findings and popularized his research.
GENETICS AND NATURAL SELECTION
- His major book, titled The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection, which was published in 1930, brought together the theory of natural selection with his work on the laws of inheritance.
- It defined the new field of population genetics and revived Darwin’s concept of sexual selection.
- As Fisher gained popularity, he began to lecture and travel.
- He became the head of the Department of Eugenics at University College London in 1933, publishing The Design of Experiments two years later.
- He continued publishing his work throughout the 1930s and 1940s.
- Unfortunately, his marriage fell apart by the end of the 1940s.
LATER LIFE AND LEGACY
- Fisher was asked to comment on UNESCO’s 1950 statement on the “Nature of Race and Racial Differences”.
- The statement clarified what was known scientifically about race and morally condemned it in the years following World War II.
- Fisher was one of four scientists who opposed the statement, claiming that racial differences were indeed evident and that there was enough scientific evidence to prove it.
- In 1957, Fisher moved to Australia upon retiring. He spent time as a senior research fellow at the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Adelaide.
- Following surgery for colon cancer, Ronald Fisher died on July 29, 1962, as a result of post-operative complications.
- Fisher was known by fellow researchers and friends as being a loyal, patriotic member of the Church of England. He was rational and adhered to scientific principles.
- He was also known for embodying the stereotypical “absent-minded professor” who dressed a bit carelessly.
- Fisher’s legacy continues to influence modern-day scientists and statisticians.
- He was elected to the Royal Society in 1929, made a Knight Bachelor by Queen Elizabeth II in 1952, and awarded the Linnean Society of London Darwin-Wallace medal in 1958.
- An annual lecture prize was established in his name in 1963.
- On April 28, 1998, a minor planet was named after him. It was called the 21451 Fisher.
- In 2010, the R. A. Fisher Chair in Statistical Genetics was established in University College London.
- He was the “architect of the modern synthesis”. By the end of his life, he had written 7 books and over 400 papers.
Ronald Fisher Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Ronald Fisher across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Ronald Fisher worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Ronald Fisher who was a British statistician, professor, and geneticist. He was hailed as the single most “important figure in 20th-century statistics”. He popularized many important statistical techniques and their application to the design of scientific experiments. He was also one of the principal founders of population genetics.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Ronald Fisher Facts
- Quote Analysis
- The Study of Eugenics
- Ronald Fisher Crossword
- Glossary of Vocabulary
- Key Fisher Concepts
- Legacy Collage
- Ronald Fisher Wordsearch
- Design a Medallion
- Fisher Acrostic
- Opinion Piece
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Use With Any Curriculum
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