By Frank B. Salisbury
BOTH THE SCIENTIFIC and personal lives of James Bonner were highly active, extending over wide ranges of diversity, and so productive that a significant legacy is left for us to contemplate and build upon. His range is indicated by over 500 publications, including 10 books, devoted to roughly three-dozen fields of scientific and philosophical inquiry, not to mention over 300 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, visiting professors, and others who worked in his laboratory and gained from his penetrating insights and always active mind. Most of these friends and acquaintances would agree that James Bonner's brilliant mind went well beyond the norm for human society.
Here is a preview of his diverse interests. Early on, he studied plant hormones including auxin, B vitamins, and wound hormones. He coauthored a seminal paper in 1938 on the physiology of flowering, studied rubber production over a period of at least forty years, and spent most of his final forty years attempting to understand how chromosomes with their genes and proteins function in the growth and development, not only of plants, but of animals as well. As if this were not enough to keep him occupied, he was an active member of the National Ski Patrol, traveled over much of the world, climbed mountains in the Himalayas,