Skip to main content

Villanova University Mendel Legacy

Villanova University was founded by the Augustinian Order in 1842.  As an Augustinian institution of higher education, Villanova is one of the custodians of Gregor Mendel’s legacy. The accomplishments of this 19th century Augustinian friar, teacher, biologist and mathematician have helped shape the world’s collective understanding of genes, crossbreeding, and heredity.

  • Mendel Science Center. Mendel is celebrated on the Villanova campus by the state-of-the-art Mendel Science Center—a facility where his legacy is celebrated daily by students and faculty who teach, study and carry out research. Mendel’s seminal work remains a vital part of contemporary study of the natural and physical sciences at the University.
  • Mendel Statue. Located in front of the Mendel Science Center facing Mendel Field, is a monumental seven foot bronze sculpture of the genetics pioneer Gregor Mendel. The statue was commissioned in 1998 and is the work of James Peniston of Laran Bronze, Chester, PA.  It is modeled after Theodore Charlemont’s Mendel memorial in Brno, Czech Republic that was erected in 1910 “by the friends of science,” and originally stood in Mendel Square in Brno.
  • Mendel Papers. Villanova University is home to four of Mendel’s papers:[1] His most famous and seminal work, “Versuche über Pflanzen-Hybriden” (Experiments in Plant Hybridization) was published in the 1866 Proceedings of the Natural History Society of Brünn. The volume containing this historic document was presented to Falvey Library by the Augustinians of the Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova in 1999. It is the cornerstone of the Mendeliana Collection and as such has been digitized for inclusion in the Villanova Digital Library.
  • Mendel Microscope. Villanova collection also includes a microscope believed to have been used by Mendel from the Vienna workshop belonging to Simon Plössl (1794-1868). It is 10.25 inches high and on its base is the signature, Plössl in Wein, (Plössl in Vienna). The Plössl microscope was discovered in the Villanova Collection, although it is not known when or how it found its way to the University.  
  • Mendel Medal. Finally, Villanova University established in 1928 the Mendel Medal Award to recognize the scientific accomplishments and religious conviction of outstanding scientists. After a hiatus of twenty-five years, Villanova University reestablished the award in 1993 as an annual award. For the complete list of notable individuals that have won this award, please see the past participants page.

[1] Verhandlungen des naturforschenden Vereines in Brünn; this is the title of mostly annual serial publication in which all of these Mendel works were published. Currently, Villanova has 3 annual volumes of this serial title in which Mendel was published, totaling 5 articles: 2 in volume (Bd.) 4, 2 in volume (Bd.) 8, and 1 in volume 9 (Bd.).  
Gregor Mendel: Bd. 4 (1865): Versuche über Pflanzen-Hybriden, [3]-47 p., and Meteorologische Beobachtungen aus Mähren und Schlesien fur das Jahre 1865, p. [318]-330.  Bd. 8 (1869): Ueber einige aus künstlicher Befruchtung gewonnenen Hieracium-Bastarde, [26]-31 p., and Meteorologische Beobachtungen aus Mähren und Schlesien im Jahre 1869, p.  [131]-144. Bd. 9 (1871): Die Windhose vom 13. October 1870, p. [229]-246.