When Gregor Mendel passed away in 1884, not a single scholar recognized his epochal contributions to biology. The unassuming abbot of the Augustinian monastery in Brno (in today's Czech Republic) was rediscovered at the turn of the century when scientists were stunned to learn that theirfindings about inheritance had already been made by an unknown monk three decades earlier. A dedicated researcher who spent every spare hour in the study of the natural sciences, Mendel devised a series of brilliantly simple experiments using a plant easily grown on the monastery's grounds--thegarden pea. In the course of just a few years he made the famous discoveries that later became the centerpiece of the science of heredity. In an entertaining and thoroughly informed narrative, Edward Edelson traces Mendel's life from his humble origins to his posthumous fame, giving us both a briefintroduction to the fascinating science of genetics and an inspired account of what a modest man can accomplish with dedication and ingenuity. Oxford Portraits in Science is an ongoing series of scientific biographies for young adults. Written by top scholars and writers, each biography examines the personality of its subject as well as the thought process leading to his or her discoveries. These illustrated biographies combine accessibletechnical information with compelling personal stories to portray the scientists whose work has shaped our understanding of the natural world.