1062-3604/01/3204- $25.00 © 2001
Russian Journal of Developmental Biology, Vol. 32, No. 4, 2001, pp. 263–264. Translated from Ontogenez, Vol. 32, No. 4, 2001, pp. 319–320.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2001 by Aspiz.
Olga I. Schmalhausen is a member of the fourth
generation of the Russianized family of the Schmal-
hausens, who moved to Russia from Germany in the
1830s. Her great-grandfather was an assistant to the
chief librarian of the Academy of Sciences and Univer-
sity in St. Petersburg. Her grandfather was a well-
known ﬂorist and paleobotanist and taught at the uni-
versities of St. Petersburg and Kiev. Her father,
Ivan I. Schmalhausen, was an evolutionary morpholo-
gist. He was the ﬁrst to apply the theory of information
to studies of evolution and his numerous works remain
O.I. Schmalhausen is a biologist with a wide
breadth of knowledge, combining comparative anat-
omy and experimental embryology.
O.I. Schmalhausen was born in Kiev on May 12,
1911. Within a year, her family moved to Moscow and,
from 1918–1921, lived in Voronezh, where I.I. Schmal-
hausen headed the Department of Zoology and Com-
parative Anatomy in an emerging university. During
these years of civil war, change of power, devastation
and dearth, O.I. Schmalhausen was educated at home.
In 1921, when her father was offered a chair in Kiev,
she entered the 4th class of the secondary school and
graduated from a 7-year school in 1925.
From childhood, O.I. Schmalhausen was eager to
draw. She had an uncommon artistic ability, inherited
from her grandfather and father; therefore the choice of
college was quite understandable. She entered an artis-
tic training college (Industrial artistic professional
school) and graduated from it with distinction.This
explains why the illustrations are so excellent in her sci-
In 1930, O.I. Schmalhausen entered the Kiev Higher
Institute of People’s Education, graduated from it in
biology in 1934, and entered the graduate school.
After I.I. Schmalhausen was elected as member of
the USSR Academy of Sciences, he was invited to
Moscow by his teacher and friend Alexei N. Severtsov.
Schmalhausen accepted, and the family moved to Mos-
cow. It is pertinent to say that A.N Severtsov gave away
Lidiya D. Kozlova at her marriage to I.I. Schmalhausen
and was a godfather of their daughter O.I. Schmal-
hausen. O.I. Schmalhausen began to work in the labo-
ratory of Prof. N.I. Dragomirov at the Institute of Evo-
lutionary Morphology, of which her father became the
O.I. Schmalhausen studied the patterns and causal
mechanisms of the development of the olfactory and
acoustic organs in various amphibians using classical
experimental embryology methods. She discovered a
new (for that time) phenomenon of multiple interacting
components in the morphogenesis of these organs. The
results she obtained could have been a true candidate
dissertation (PhD thesis), but, unfortunately, it was not
The Second World War and the evacuation to Kaza-
khstan completely changed the direction of her studies.
She began working in the Borovoe State Reserve in the
laboratory of a founder of national hydrobiology, Aca-
demician S.A. Zernov. O.I. Schmalhausen studied the
plankton of many water bodies in the reserve’s territory,
which was not only theoretically signiﬁcant, but also
presented a practical interest for estimating their pro-
ductivity for the purpose of the artiﬁcial breeding of
ﬁsh. She discovered a new species of sea foraminifers
On the 90th Birthday of Olga I. Schmalhausen
Olga I. Schmalhausen with her father Ivan I. Schmalhausen.