Guido Pellegrino Arrigo Pontecorvo(1907-1999), who liked to be known by his nickname, Ponte, was an Italian geneticist who became the University of Glasgow's first Professor of Genetics in 1955, and has been described as "one of the founding fathers of modern genetics". He endowed prizes and scholarships for students at the University and the Genetics Building was named for him in 1995. Born and educated in Pisa, Pontecorvo was forced to leave Italy in 1938 and settled in Scotland. He was appointed a lecturer in Genetics at the University's Zoology Department in 1945, and a new department was set up in the Anatomy laboratories of the Anderson College building soon afterwards. He became a Reader in 1952, three years before his appointment to the new Chair. He left Glasgow in 1968 to take a post at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund's laboratories in London. Pontecorvo was one of the leading figures of his day in the study of of cell genetics. For a more detailed biography see the full Pontecorvo collection description.
Aside from genetics Pontecorvo's life long passion was alpine plant photography and ecology. He set aside each summer for pursuits to some of the world's most spectacular alpine regions, and his collection contains thousands of slides of alpine flowers and their habitats which he was using to research a book on plants at high altitudes (sadly this was never finished). He visited various mountains and national parks in the USA in the 1950s and 1960s, in the 1970s he travelled to Iran to study the flora of the Fars region and Mt Elburz. He explored the Himalayas in India and the Tien Shan and Kunlun mountains in China in the 1980s. These trips were organized with the help of The Royal Society or at the invitation of local academies and were often combined with lecture tours and courses. Ponte often made excursions to mountains a precondition for accepting invitations.