Record

Authorised form of nameFisher; Sir; Ronald Aylmer (1890 - 1962); statistician and geneticist
SurnameFisher
ForenamesRonald Aylmer
Dates1890 - 1962
NationalityBritish
Dates and placesBirth:
East Finchley, London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom (17 February 1890)
Death:
Adelaide, Australia, Oceania (29 July 1962)
Burial:
St Peter's Cathedral, Adelaide, Australia, Oceania
ActivityProfession:
Statistician; geneticist; teacher

Research Field:
Statistics; biometry; eugenics; evolution; genetics.

Education:
Stanmore Park School; Harrow School (1904-1909); Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, MA in Mathematics (1912); postgraduate year at the Cavendish Laboratory (1913); ScD (1926).

Career:
Instigated the Cambridge University Eugenics Society (1911); worked on a farm in Canada (1913); post-University employment as statistician at the Mercantile and General Investment Company (1913-1915); commissioned, but ruled ineligible for war service, due to poor eyesight (1914); taught mathematics in schools, and at Thames Nautical Training College and Bradfield College (1914-1919); reviewed for the Eugenics Review (1915-1935); statistician at Rothamsted Experimental Station, becoming Head of the Department of Statistics (1919-1933); pioneered the analysis of variance and use of randomization, incorporated into 'Statistical methods for research workers' (1925); Galton Professor of Eugenics, University College, London (1933-1939); Editor of 'Annals of Eugenics', later 'Annals of Human Genetics' (1934-); established a Blood Group Serum Unit at the Galton Laboratory with Rockefeller Foundation funding (1935); President of the Genetics Society (1940-1943); Arthur Balfour Chair of Genetics, University of Cambridge (1943-1957); re-elected a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge (1943) and President (1956-1959); co-founded (with C. D. Darlington) the journal 'Heredity', the journal of the Genetics Society (1947); President of the Biometric Society (1947); President of the Royal Statistical Society (1952-1954); Royal Society Croonian Lecturer on ‘Population genetics’ (1953); petitioned the Wolfenden Committee in compiling its Report (1957); advocated for the tobacco industry, querying the statistical analysis of Hill-Doll studies on smoking and lung cancer (1957-1960); Honorary Research Fellowship, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Adelaide, Australia (1957-1962).

Honours:
Weldon Memorial Prize and Medal, University of Oxford (1926); Guy Medal, Royal Statistical Society (1946); Kt (1952); Honorary Member, American Statistical Association; Honorary Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences; DSc., Harvard; LL.D., Calcutta [Kolkata] and other honorary degrees.
Royal Society activityMembership:
Fellow
Election Date:
2/05/1929
Medals/Prizes:
Royal Medal 1938; Darwin Medal 1948; Copley Medal 1955
Lectures:
Croonian 1953, gave lecture on population genetics
RelationshipsMarried (Ruth) Eileen Guinness, 1917, daughter of Dr. Henry Gratton Guiness (1861-1915), physician and missionary; eight children born 1919-1938; separated 1943. A daughter, Joan Fisher Box, wrote a biography of her father: she married the statistician George E. P. Box
Published works'The correlation between relatives on the supposition of Mendelian Inheritance', 1918; 'Statistical methods for research workers ', 1925; 'The genetical theory of natural selection', 1930; 'The design of experiments', 1935; 'The wave of advance of advantageous genes', 1937; 'The theory of inbreeding', 1949; 'Gene frequencies in a cline determined by selection and diffusion', 1950; 'Statistical methods and scientific inference ', 1956
General contextEugenics is a set of beliefs and practices that aim to 'improve' the physiological qualities of a human population, usually along lines of physical and mental ability. These practices have been characterised as sometimes embracing 'positive' measures, such as encouraging individuals deemed particularly fit to reproduce; and/or 'negative' measures, such as marriage prohibitions and voluntary or forced sterilization of people deemed unfit. The history of eugenics (a term coined by Francis Galton) began in the mid 19th and early 20th centuries. It was generally linked to negative views of race and class. A popular eugenics movement emerged in the United Kingdom, tied in with the thinking of physiological anthropologists, interpretations of Darwinism and natural selection, and the rise of statistical modeling and quantative analysis in science. Fisher was associated with the Eugenics Society; of those who were involved, there were many different approaches and Fisher's relationships with others, such as Karl Pearson, were subject to public disagreements and some animosity.
SourcesSources:
Bulloch's Roll; DSB; Wikipedia
Obituaries:
Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 1963 vol 9 pp 91-129, plate, by F Yates and K Mather
References:
David C Watt, 'Lionel Penrose, FRS (1898-1972) and Eugenics: Part One' in NR 1998 vol 52 pp 137-151
Sahotra Sarkar, 'J B S Haldane and R A Fisher's Draft Life of Karl Pearson' in NR 1995 vol 49 pp 119-124
A. W. F. Edwards, 'R. A. Fisher on Karl Pearson' in NR 1994 vol 48 pp 97-106, plate
Bernard Norton and E. S. Pearson, 'A Note on the Background to, and Refereeing of, R A Fisher's 1918 Paper "On the Correlation Between Relatives on the Supposition of Mendelian Inheritance"' in NR 1976-7 vol 31 pp 151-162
Sir Gavin de Beer, 'Mendel, Darwin, and Fisher (1865-1965)' in NR 1964 vol 19 pp 192-226
'The Race Concept: Results of an Inquiry', UNESCO, 1952
J. F. Box, 'R. A. Fisher: the life of a scientist' (1978)
Walter Bodmer, R. A. Bailey, Brian Charlesworth, Adam Eyre-Walker, Veron Farewell, Andrew Mead and Stephen Senn, 'The outstanding scientist, R. A. Fisher: his views on eugenics and race', Heredity 126, pp.565-576 (2021)
Virtual International Authority Filehttp://viaf.org/viaf/41900609
Royal Society codeNA7969
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
EC/1929/04Fisher, Sir Ronald Aylmer: certificate of election to the Royal Society
CMB/278/10Note on papers passed for publication 1945
RR/62/84Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'Factors affecting the amount of infection obtained by aphis transmission of the virus Hy. III' by Marion A Watson[May 1936]
RR/28/130Referee's report by William Lawrence Balls, on a paper 'The influence of rainfall on the yield of wheat at Rothamsted' by Ronald Aylmer Fisher[October 1923]
RR/35/75Referee's report by George Udny Yule, on a paper 'Triplet children in Great Britain and Ireland' by Ronald Aylmer Fisher31 October 1927
RR/47/132Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'A modified method of counting particles' by L H C TippettApril 1932
RR/45/62Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'A statistical study of the distribution of species in grassland associations' by Geoffrey Emett Blackman22 February 1932
RR/45/74Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'The intellectual resemblance of twins' by Louis Herrman and Lancelot Thomas Hogben[September 1932]
RR/45/98Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'The correlation of relatives on the supposition of sex-linked transmission' by Lancelot Thomas Hogben[August 1932]
RR/46/4Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'Contributions to the mathematical theory of epidemics. II. —The problem of endemicity' by William Ogilvy Kermack and A G McKendrick[May 1832]
RR/46/43Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'On the problem of the most efficient tests of statistical hypotheses' by Jerzy Neyman and Egon Sharpe Pearson[September 1932]
RR/47/51Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'The concepts of inverse probability and fiducial probability referring to unknown parameters' by Ronald Aylmer FisherNovember 1932
RR/47/52Referee's report by Guy Anstruther Knox Marshall, on a paper 'On the evidence against the chemical induction of melanism in lepidoptera' by Ronald Aylmer FisherDecember 1932
RR/47/53Referee's report by George Udny Yule, on a paper 'On the evidence against the chemical induction of melanism in lepidoptera' by Ronald Aylmer Fisher28 December 1932
RR/48/26Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'The detection of linkage in human families. I.–Both heterozygous genotypes indeterminate' by Lancelot Thomas Hogben[October 1933]
RR/47/80Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'Partial inbreeding in mendelian populations, with special reference to human cousin marriage' by John Burdon Sanderson Haldane and P MoshinkskySeptember 1932
RR/48/93Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Two new properties of mathematical likelihood' by Ronald Aylmer Fisher[January 1934]
RR/50/84Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'The relative aetiological importance of birth order and maternal age in [mongolism]' by Lionel Sharples PenroseMay 1934
NLB/66/310Copy letter from William Bate Hardy, Secretary of the Royal Society; to [Ronald Alymer] Fisher Esq., Rothamsted Experimental Station.7 April 1924
RR/51/132Second referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'On the independence of sums of squares in the analysis of variance' by S S Wilks[March 1934]
RR/51/134Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'On the independence of sums of squares in the analysis of variance' by S S Wilks[December 1933]
RR/54/11Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'A contribution to the mathematical theory of epidemics. Part IV' by William Ogilvy Kermack and A G McKendrickAugust 1935
RR/53/75Referee's report by Reginald Crundall Punnett, on a paper 'Dominance in poultry' by Ronald Aylmer Fisher[December 1934]
RR/53/74Referee's report by John Burdon Sanderson Haldane, on a paper 'Dominance in poultry' by Ronald Aylmer Fisher[December 1934]
RR/53/126Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'On the numerical distribution of micro-organisms in the atmosphere' by A S Horne[November 1934]
RR/55/46Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'A study by statistical methods of the distribution of species in grassland associations' by Geoffrey Emett Blackman20 May 1935
RR/70/216Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'The quantitative investigation of the vertebrate brain and the applicability of allometric formulae to its study' by D Sholl1947
NLB/65/268Copy letter from William Bate Hardy, Secretary of the Royal Society; to [Frederick Campion] Seward1 October 1923
RR/61/35Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'Properties of sufficiency and statistical tests' by Maurice Stevenson BartlettJanuary 1937
RR/59/75Referee's report by John Burdon Sanderson Haldane, on a paper 'The relation between variability and abundance shown by the measurements of the eggs of British nesting birds' by Ronald Aylmer Fisher[August 1936]
RR/59/76Referee's report by George Udny Yule, on a paper 'The relation between variability and abundance shown by the measurements of the eggs of British nesting birds' by Ronald Aylmer Fisher21 November 1936
RR/59/77Second referee's report by John Burdon Sanderson Haldane, on a paper 'The relation between variability and abundance shown by the measurements of the eggs of British nesting birds' by Ronald Aylmer Fisher[December 1936]
RR/64/10Referee's report by Reginald Crundall Punnett, on a paper 'Dominance in poultry: feathered feet, rose comb, internal pigment and pile' by Ronald Aylmer Fisher[October 1937]
RR/72/113Referee's report by Frank Yates, on a paper 'A class of enumerations of importance in genetics' by Ronald Aylmer Fisher1949
RR/72/205Letter from Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'The form-transformation of the abdomen of the female pea-crab, Pinnotheres pisum Leach' by A E Needham to D C Martin, Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society31 October 1949
RR/71/291Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'Systematic sampling' by Frank Yates1948
RR/71/127Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'Studies on the Genetic and Antigenic Basis of Tumour Transplantation. Linkage between a Histocompatibility Gene and 'Fused' in Mice' by Peter Alfed Gorer, S Lyman and G D Snell[1948]
NLB/65/818Copy letter from William Bate Hardy, Secretary of the Royal Society; to Sir [Edward] John Russell, FRS9 January 1924
RR/72/156Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'The stability of D-arabinose adaption of Bact. lactis aerogenes' by Cyril Norman Hinshelwood and S Jackson 1949
NLB/66/61Copy letter from Francis Alexander Towle, Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society; to [Albert Charles] Seward, FRS15 February 1924
NLB/65/828Copy letter from William Bate Hardy, Secretary of the Royal Society; to B. A. Keen Esq.; Rothamsted Experimental Station12 January 1924
RR/28/131Referee's report by William Napier Shaw, on a paper 'The influence of rainfall on the yield of wheat at Rothamsted' by Ronald Aylmer Fisher7 January 1924
NLB/69/150Copy letter from James Hopwood Jeans, Secretary of the Royal Society; to [Ronald Aylmer] Fisher Esq., Rothamsted Experimental Station, Harpenden21 January 1926
NLB/72/173Copy letter from Francis Alexander Towle, Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society; to Dr [Ronald Aylmer] Fisher, FRS7 May 1929
NLB/72/808Copy letter from Francis Alexander Towle, Assistant Secretary and Librarian of the Royal Society; to Dr [Ronald Aylmer] Fisher, FRS3 May 1930
RR/72/230Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'Large elastic deformations of isotropic materials VI. Further results in the theory of torsion, shear and flexure' by R S Rivlin1949
IM/GA/WS/4551Fisher, Sir Ronald Aylmernd
IM/GA/WS/1174Fisher, Sir Ronald Aylmer1946
RR/48/94Referee's report by Edmund Taylor Whittaker, on a paper 'Probability likelihood and quantity of information in the logic of uncertain inference' by Ronald Aylmer Fisher[January 1934]
RR/56/56Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'Sufficient statistics and uniformly most powerful tests of statistical hypotheses' by J Neyman and Egon Sharpe Pearson[December 1935]
RR/62/92Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'The influence of moonlight on the activity of certain nocturnal insects, particularly of the family Noctuidae, as indicated by a light trap' by Carrington Bonsor Williams[March 1936]
RR/50/43Referee's report by Ronald Aylmer Fisher, on a paper 'An electrical calculating machine' by R R M Mallock11 April 1933
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