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Vavilov's life

Vavilov's life

Nikolai Vavilov (1887-1943).  Not a name familiar to many people. Vavilov is, however, one of my scientific Teacher and Heroes. He collected more seeds, tubers and fruits from around the world than any other person in history. Yet the plant explorer, who endeavored to end famine, starved to death in a gulag.

Vavilov is recognized as the foremost plant geographer of contemporary times. To explore the major agricultural centers in this country and abroad, Vavilov organized and took part in over 100 collecting missions. His major foreign expeditions included those to Iran (1916), the United States, Central and South America (1921, 1930, 1932), the Mediterranean and Ethiopia (1926-1927). For his expedition to Afghanistan in 1924 Vavilov was awarded the N.M. Przhevalskii Gold Medal of the Russian Geographic Society. From 1931 to 1940 Vavilov was its president.

These missions and the determined search for plants were based on the Vavilov's concepts in the sphere of evolutionary genetics, i.e. the Law of Homologous Series in Variation (1920) and the theory of the Centers of Origin of Cultivated Plants (1926).


Major N.I.Vavilov's Expeditions



Expedition to Iran (Hamadan and Khorasan) and Pamir (Shungan, Rushan and Khorog).


Acquaintance trip to Canada (Ontario) and USA (New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, California, Oregon, Maine).


Expedition to Afghanistan (Herat, Afghan Turkestan, Gaimag, Bamian, Hindu Kush, Badakhshan, Kafiristan, Jalalabad, Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Baquia, Helmand, Farakh, Sehistan), accompanied by D.D. Bukinich and V.N. Lebedev.


Expedition to Khoresm (Khiva, Novyi Urgench, Gurlen, Tashauz).


Expedition to Mediterranean countries (France, Syria, Palestine, Transjordan, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Greece, Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus and Crete, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Egypt, where Gudzoni was explored by Vavilov's request) and to Abyssinia (Djibouti, Addis Ababa, banks of Nile, Tsana Lake), Eritrea (Massaua) and Yemen (Hodeida, Jidda, Hedjas).


Exploration of mountainous regions in Wuertemberg (Bavaria, Germany).


Expedition to China (Xinjiang - Kashgar, Uch-Turfan, Aksu, Kucha, Urumchi, Kulja, Yarkand, Hotan) together with M.G. Popov, then alone to Chine (Taiwan), Japan (Honshu, Kyushu and Hokkaido) and Korea.


Expedition to USA (Florida, Louisiana, Arizona, Texas, California), Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.


Trip to Canada (Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia), USA (Washington, Colorado, Montana, Kansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North and South Dakotas, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah); 
Expedition to Cuba, Mexico (Yucatan), Ecuador (Cordilleras), Peru (Lake Titicaca, Puno Mt., Cordilleras), Bolivia (Cordilleras), Chile (Panama River). Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, Amazon), Argentina, Uruguay, Trinidad and Porto Rico.


Systematic explorations of the European part of Russia and the whole regions of the Caucasus and the Middle Asia.

In the stifling atmosphere of the totalitarian USSR, the institute headed by Vavilov turned into a resistance point to the pseudo-scientific concepts of Trofim D. Lysenko. As a result of this controversy, Vavilov was arrested in August 1940, and his closest associates were also sacked and imprisoned.

Please read and listen  opinions about life of Nikolai I. Vavilov on the following links:







Voice of N.I. Vavilov. This voice was recording  24 May I937,  and is considered the only surviving voice of N.I. Vavilov.

A short film about the great scientist