Mary Snow

Christine Mary Snow (Pilkington) (1902–1978) was an Oxford botanist who contributed to the study of geotropism and phyllotaxis. She is known for her co-development, with her husband George Snow, of ''Snows' rule'', that a new primordium appears in a plant as soon as and in the place where it has enough space to do so.

Mary Pilkington was the daughter of wealthy glass manufacturer Alfred 'Cecil' Pilkington (1875–1966). She was born in Rainhill, Lancashire, on 1 Aug 1902, and became an exhibitioner of St Hugh's College, Oxford in 1922. She graduated with first-class honours in botany in 1926 and was a research student at St Hugh's in 1925. In 1926 she became the first research student of George 'Robin' Snow (1897–1969), a botanist and fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, and was awarded the BSc, a research degree, in 1929. She was elected as a research fellow of Somerville College but was unable to take up the position because of her planned marriage to her supervisor George Snow in 1930. She continued to teach at Somerville and was later made an honorary research fellow both there and at St Hughs. From 1947 to 1958 she was curator of the botanic gardens.

After a trip to Jamaica in 1924, George Snow had acquired an undiagnosed illness associated with severe fatigue that affected his work for the rest of his life. The Snows lived in Headington from 1930 to 1960, when George Snow resigned his fellowship for health reasons. After five years living in Budleigh Salterton, the Snows moved to Vernet-les-Bains in the Pyrenees. George Snow died on 1 August 1969. Mary Snow died in 1978 in Perpignan. They had no children. Snow and her husband both enjoyed rock climbing and investigation of the paranormal.

Mary Snow's work was largely carried out in collaboration with George Snow. As his research student she worked on the regeneration of stem-apices after splitting. This and their work tested the hypotheses of Hofmeister and van Iterson that new primordia would arise in the largest gaps left by previous ones, and largely relied on dissection of the growing stem of ''Lupinus albus'' under a microscope. In all the work published by them jointly, Mary Snow carried out almost all of the practical manipulation, they shared the interpretation of the results and the generation of new experimental ideas, while George alone wrote them up. All of the experimental work was carried out in their home, Southerway, in Headington, whether the couple frequently entertained undergraduates and research students. The Snows published a series of papers on the subject from 1933 onwards, which are still widely cited.

Mary Snow's benefaction to the Oxford Botanic Gardens made possible the development of their arboretum at Nuneham Courtenay. Provided by Wikipedia
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