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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 72
PAUL JACKSON KRAMER
May 8, 1904–May 24, 1995
BY JOHN S. BOYER AND AUBREY W. NAYLOR
PAUL KRAMER WAS A gifted plant physiologist whose life was characterized by a special ability to conceive undeniable experiments and explain them simply and convincingly. He spent his entire professional career at Duke University, arriving at the new West campus in 1931 while the grass was being planted, "retiring" in 1974, but continuing his experiments with his many friends and devoted colleagues until he died. He was also a student of history and the arts, and his sixty-four years in science formed perspectives that few of us have. He could expound on the development of science in the United States or the history of politics in China, and he had a unique understanding of human nature that gave him uncommon persuasiveness when he developed a large project or administered complex organizations.
As an adviser to students, Paul was a listener and would say "Why don't you try it?" when an experiment was proposed. To the wilder ideas, he would lean back in his chair, fold his hands in back of his head as he looked at the ceiling, and whistle tunelessly. After a moment, he would say he needed to give it further thought and the student knew it was time to move to a different idea. This gentle