The protistologist Lea Bleyman has conducted research into the genetics, mating systems, and life cycles of ciliates, including Paramecium, Tetrahymena, and Blepharisma. After completing a dissertation under Tracy Sonneborn in 1966, Bleyman spent many years on the faculty of the Department of Natural Sciences at Baruch College, serving as and officer and President (2001-2002) of the Society of Protozoologists.
The Bleyman Papers contain conference materials, lab and research notes, abstracts of talks and papers, along with some correspondence, photographs, and personal materials. The earliest materials in the collection relate to her years as a student in Sonneborn's lab.
The collection is open for research.
Background on Lea K. Bleyman
Lea Kanner Bleyman was born into a Jewish family in Halle, Germany, of November 9, 1936. As an infant, she and her family fled Germany to France, where they remained for the duration of the war, even as her older sisters, Eva and Ruth, were evacuated to the United States by the Kindertransport Program of the humanitarian organization OSE (Oeuvre de Sécours aux Enfants).
Reunited in the United States in 1946, the Kanners settled in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. Entering the local public schools, Lea found her first brush with science leavened by her first experience with gender bias, but undeterred, she pursued biology as an undergraduate at Brandeis University. After graduation in 1958, and marrying Michael A. Bleyman, a philosophy major, then studying law at New York University, Bleyman relocated to New York for two years, earning a master's degree from Columbia University. During her first forays as a graduate student into the world of protozoans, she encountered the work of her future mentor, Tracy S. Sonneborn, and was drawn ever deeper into ciliate genetic research.
In 1961 the Bleymans moved to Indiana University, where Michael returned to his studies in philosophy, while Lea pursued a doctorate under Sonneborn in the Department of Zoology. At the time, Sonneborn's lab was one the nation's most vibrant centers for study of the biology and evolutionary genetics of ciliates, and Bleyman fell in with a remarkable community of graduate students, including Akio Miyake and Koichi Hiwatashi, with whom she would later collaborate. Her dissertation research centered on selfing in Paramecium aurelia with relation to macronuclear differentiation, and developing a new medium for culturing Paramecium.
Moving to the University of Illinois in 1964, Bleyman shifted course to study reproduction in Tetrahymena, even as she was completing her dissertation. Hired as a research associate in the lab of David L. Nanny (himself a former Sonneborn student), Bleyman formed a range of intellectually advantageous relationships with fellow protistologists, including John Corliss and Jerome Paulin (both past presidents of the Society of Protozoologists), Eduardo Orias, Peter Bruns, and Ellen Simon.
After a brief stint at the University of North Carolina, and her divorce, Bleyman returned to New York in 1973 to join the Biology faculty at Baruch College. Active in several professional organizations, she was a regular contributor to conferences and symposia on ciliate biology and served on the Executive Committee of the Society of Protozoologists (1981-1986 and 1999-2004), as Secretary (1991-1997), and ultimately President (2001-2002). At Baruch, she took up work on the mating patterns of a different genus of ciliates, Blepharisma, and beginning in 1975, she spent her next ten summers at Cornell, working with her old colleague Peter Bruns on Tetrahymena genetics. The author of dozens of papers on protists, Bleyman is currently Professor Emerita at Baruch.
Consisting chiefly of materials relating to Bleyman's participation in professional conferences, laboratory and lecture notes, and published works, the Bleyman Papers offer Lea K. Bleyman's research on a range of ciliate taxa. The collection is organized into four series: Conferences; Laboratory and Lecture Notes; Professional Organizations; and Publications.
Acquired from Lea K. Bleyman, January 2008, through Michael F. Dolan.
Processed by Emily Toder, December 2010.
For other materials related to Bleyman and the history of protistology, see:
Cite as: Lea K. Bleyman Papers (MS 548). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.