Professor Laura Kaufman (1889-1972) was an outstanding biologist-geneticist and specialist in poultry breeding. She was a member of the Polish Academy of Science, Professor and Doctor Honoris Causa of Agricultural College of Lublin, Honorary President of the Polish Society of Animal Husbandry, co-organizer and first President of the Lublin Scientific Society, and Honorary Life Member of the World's Poultry Science Association.
Laura Kaufman graduated in Zoology from the Jagiellonian University is Cracow in 1911. Her career started in 1919 when she joined the Department of Embryology and Biology of the Medical Faculty at the university where, under the influence of the prominent embryologist, Prof E. Godlwski, Junior, she developed her scientific interests and personality. During these 7 years she became an expert, in the methodology of experimental embryology and published her first works in this field, among them her PhD thesis on the degeneration of salamander embryos in the uterus.
In 1919 she accepted a proposition of Prof L. Marchlewski, director of the National Scientific Institute of Rural farming in Pulawy, to work as an assistant in the Department of Experimental Morphology. There, the work of Laura Kaufman approached closer the requirements of animal Husbandry. In different species and breeds of birds she investigated the specificity of organism development. In a set of 40 papers she reported the results of studies mostly on chicken and pigeon embryos, and the internal factors influencing the growth of whole organisms as well as of particular organs. These studies resulted finally (1930) in the foundation for her Doctor of Science treatise. In this for the first time, the growth and development of animals differing in body size were compared and analysed phenogenetically under the same conditions.
The years 1925-26 were spent in the Department of Comparative Embryology, College de France in Paris where, under Prof E. Faure-Fremiet, she studied modern achievements in the field of animal growth and morphogenesis and published several papers mostly on the reasons for egg production decline with age.
In 1932 Laura Kaufman became the head of Department of Experimental Biology whose new name - Department of Breeding Biology - indicated a closer linkage between practice and the research carried out. Her investigations of the influence of temperature changes on the growth and development of chicken embryos were particularly useful for the poultry industry during the first phase in the development of artificial incubation. The studies established critical points in the embryo's resistance to lowered temperature during different stages of incubation. Laura Kaufman found that the temperature below a developmental minimum, but above the critical point, are not detrimental to hatching even when lasting for 24 hours. This finding was of great value in a case of interruptions to hatchery power supply, which happened often in the years just after the end of World War II.
At the period of her full creativeness, Laura Kaufman also started genetic research, initially to explain some biological phenomena, but finally carried-out to meet particular demands of poultry practice. She was particularly interested in the only surviving native breed of fowl, the Polish Greenlegged Partridge, and her breeding work led to a considerable improvement of this breed's productivity. In close cooperation with breeding farms and poultry breeding institutions Laura Kaufman started researches into the best commercial breed crosses. The experience gained in genetic improvement of poultry enabled her to publish, in 1934, the first modern Polish textbook of poultry breeding. This had further editions until 1964.
World War II interrupted scientific activity, but in 1945 Professor Kaufman resumed work by activating the Institut in Pulawy. Simultaneously she was offered a post of Professor of Genetics and Poultry Husbandry at the Faculty of Agriculture of Maria Curie-Sktodowska University in Lublin.
In the post-war years, the years of the third period of her universal activity, Professor Kaufman further developed the studies on heterosis, introduced a new autosexing breed of hen - Polbar - and worked on the reasons for change in hatching egg quality during storage. She also prepared two manuals for students on general animal husbandry and on the biological basis of animal breeding and was the author of a chapter on principles of selection and breeding in collective book on poultry science.
Professor L. Kaufman was given numerous proofs of highest recognition on the part of both state authorities and scientific societies. She contributed considerably to the development of science and particularly poultry science.
Nominated by Poland