Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday's Faces from the Past: Professor A. C. Chandler

Yesterday's launch of Ethel's Scrapbook was quite successful! The blog enjoyed 100 visitors! +Jana Last was the first to join! Thanks +Jana Last and welcome to all my new members and readers!

One of mysteries posed by Ethel's scrapbook is which publication the articles came from. By process of elimination, I believe I have narrowed down the possibilities from three to two. After studying the Thresher weekly online, on the The Portal to Texas History website, I am convince these clippings do not come from the Rice student newspaper. The Thresher articles, for the most part, list the author. My grandmother is credited to quite a few articles. Therefore, I believe the articles in the scrapbook come from her job as the Rice correspondent for the two local Houston papers, the Houston Chronicle and the Houston Press.

Today's article is titled Rice Professor Leaves To Talk at Biology Meeting. Interestingly, the article is crossed out (see image below). Several other articles throughout the scrapbook are crossed out as well. I am hoping to discover a pattern that might explain why she chose to draw a line through some of these articles. I present to you, article #2 from Ethel's scrapbook:

Rice Professor Leaves To Talk at Biology Meeting 9/3/1939

Dr. A. C. Chandler, professor of biology at Rice Institute, left Saturday for a three-week visit to New York, where he will give a paper on "Investigation of Immunity in Tape Worm Infections" before the Third International Congress of Microbiology.

The congress will be held from September 4 to 9, and will feature talks by leading biologist from many nations. Doctor Chandler is corresponding member from the section on parasitology, and is the only Texan who will be on the program. 

"In experiments I found that tape worms absorb the food from nourishment a person takes into his body, and that if there is only one tape worm its growth is successful and long lived. But if more than one are found in a person , all die except for one. 

"There might be two reasons for such results. Either the person is immune from tape worm or the other can not grow because they are crowded.
"In the experiment, I fed rats already infected with tape worms with larve worms from beetles. After observing the rats for several days an operation was performed and all but one of  the worms removed. The result was that the worm continued to grow after the others were removed. This proved that the person was not immune, but that worms could not grow because they were crowded. 

"Experiments with vaccine were not successful  A vaccine had no effect on the worm in the infected rat. Even when the vaccine was given by mouth the tape worm was not harmed. 
"Premunition was the conclusion of the experiments," Doctor Chandler said. 

Premunition means protection against infection while the patient is infected. In other words if a person is the victim of tape worm disease, no other tape worm can become dangerous until the infectious one is destroyed. 

The Summary of his address was given by the doctor before he left. 

Now what scientist today goes to a three week conference? Times have changed! This article spoke to me in several ways. My husband is a scientist who uses rats and mice in his experiments. Apart from the length of the leave, I notice a few other major differences in the evolution of scientific research since my grandmother roamed the Rice campus. For one, no one would draw conclusions on humans directly from a mouse experiment. Mice are a good model, but one can not conclude the same result in human with human trials. Secondly, I had a difficult time reaching the conclusion he drew from the experiment of surgically removing the worms. I read the paragraph several times and I'm still not sure of the conclusion. If it wasn't a direct quote from his report, I would think my grandmother might have misunderstood his experiment. Finally, I'm curious if his results hold true today (I've made a note to look this up). 

Since today is Friday Face's From the Past day, I thought I would try to find a picture the renown parasitologist. I did even better. I found a great blog post about him on the Rice's Historian's Blog by Melissa Kean. Melissa wrote about a series of coincidences which lead her to learn about professor Chandler. Ethel's article will continue the stings of serendipitous events.
Professor Chandler c1940 from Historian's Blog
One of Melissa Kean's readers, relayed a rumor that Dr. Chandler smuggled a tapeworm inside himself. Another recalled that he named a tapeworm Homer and provided the bibliography to support his claim. 
The good news is, this professor did not run off and marry a student like his colleague Dr. Frank Pattie from the psychology department (see yesterday's post).


  1. Wow. Rice correspondent to the two local Houston papers. I know Ethel was a prodigy, but how did she have the time, with a chemistry major? She was an amazing woman.

    1. She was very busy. I think she worked for Houston Press one year and the Houston Chronicle the following year. She worked at the Thresher the whole time. I'm estimating she published 4-6 articles a week.


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