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Cornelis van Niel

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Cornelis van Niel

Area: microbiology

Years: 1929-1963

Cornelius Bernardus van Niel joined the Stanford faculty at the Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove in 1929, and it was here he remained throughout his career. From this small seaside community, Cornelius B. van Niel introduced the study of microbiology to America while investigating the biochemistry of photosynthesis. In 1946, CB van Niel was appointed Herzstein Professor of Biology. The Herzstein Professorship in Biology is the oldest of the endowed chairs at Stanford. It was established in 1928 by an endowment from Dr. Morris Herzstein, a San Francisco physician. The holder is expected to promote and conduct original biological and physiological research. In 1964, C. B. van Niel would be the first biologist to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Science.

Monterey Peninsula Herald, Monterey California, Tuesday May 1, 1945

Editor, The Herald

Monterey, California

Letter Box

Dear Sir:

I should appreciate publication in the “Letter Box” of the following remarks.

1. The gratifying opposition to the aims of the Monterey Bay Council of Japanese Relations has so far failed to stress what appears to me a most important aspect of the situation. The willful obstruction of justice and fair play is apt to arouse a feeling of revulsion, even in those who are fully aware of the desperate need for developing an need for  developing a spirit of toleration . The attitude of the sponsors of the movement, like that of the arsonist, the attorney for their defense, and the jury in the Auburn case, is not fundamentally different from that of the young Nazi bullies in the early 19430’w against the German Jews, and this attitude inevitably inspires hatred.

If the present members of the Monterey Bay Council would be willing to contemplate these consequences of their actions, and take steps to erase the growing distrust and dislike of their motives, much might now be gained peacefully which later could only be gained by harsh measures.

2. The editorial defense against attacks from various sides concerning the acceptance and printing of advertisements has, in my opinion, been beside the point, and reflects a regrettable evasion of responsibility.  This defense rest so on the claim of the paper’s right and duty to report news, even when unpalatable, an argument which has not been called into question by any of the letters. The attacks have been directed against the accepatance for publication of a paid advertisement, and not against the reporting of news items.  It should be admitted that a newspaper has the right to print, along with the news, the personal opinion of members of the staff, for which it then assumes responsibility.  But the publication of an advertisement is not news reporting,

During the past few days the editor’s defense has indicated that the policy of the Herald is at variance with the expressed and implied sentiment of the advertisement.  It thus seems logical to conclude that the publication of the advertisement  constitutes an error in judgement on the part of the editorial staff, which, it I hoped, will be regretted and admitted.

C. B. van Niel
P. O. Box 1833
Carmel, Cal.

Editor’s Note: Sorry, Dr. van Niel, we don’t feel that the Herald has anything to “admit or regret.”  Nor have any of the attacks on our acceptance and publication of the advertisement of the Monterey Bay Council on Japanese Relations raised a real doubt as to the wisdom and rightness of our original decision to publish.  Further, if additional advertising on this issue is offered – by the Council or any other group – it will be considered and used or refused after consideration of its content.  This is the normal procedure with the Herald.

Perhaps we express ourselves badly. But, in any case, what Doctor van Niel calls indications “that the policy of the  at variance with the expressed and implied sentiments of the advertisement”  is not to be quite so simply stated. As an earlier editor’s note pointed out, the text of the advertisement in question contained nothing overt.  On the contrary, it committed the Council to campaign only against so-called “disloyal” individuals of Japanese descent. Specifically exempted were loyal citizens and men and women of the armed forces.

Objectors to the advertisement – and its publication-read into the text and into the program of the Council many things that do not appear there.  This “reading between the lines” may or may not be justified. The Herald doesn’t know. Leaders of the Council say it is not and have been invited to present a further explanation in the Letter Box.

If the assumptions and conclusions of the majority of recent writers should turn out to be accurate…and the Council develop into the sort of organization they feel it inevitably must become, the Herald may be depended upon to do a great deal more than “indicate that its policy is at variance…..”

Just why the Council submitted to the Herald – and other regional newspapers- the unsolicited advertisement in question is, of course, their business.  But perhaps it was because most of the publicity material mailed to the press failed of publication on its merits as news.  The news columns of most newspapers become increasingly inhospitable to “news releases”  and publicity material these days.

In any event the entire controversy is and has been of real community interest and we expect to consider for publication many more letters to the editor before it cools off.

The Democratic Way of Life advertisement published in the Monterey Peninsula  Herald, Monterey California May 11, 1945.


van Niel C.B., Garner G.E., Cohen A.L. On the mechanism of ballistospore discharge 1972 Archiv für Mikrobiologie

van Niel C.B. Techniques for the Enrichment, Isolation, and Maintenance of the Photosynthetic Bacteria 1971 Methods in Enzymology

van Niel C.B. Microbiology and molecular biology. 1966 Quarterly Review of Biology

Stanier R.Y., van Niel C.B. The concept of a bacterium 1962 Archiv für Mikrobiologie

van Niel C.B. Albert Jan Kluyver; 1888-1956. 1957 Journal of general microbiology

van Niel C.B. In memoriam Prof. Dr Ir A.J. Kluyver. 1956 Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

van Niel C.B. A.J. Kluyver, microbiologist. 1956 Science

van Niel C.B., GOODWIN T.W., SISSINS M.E. Studies in carotenogenesis. 21. The nature of the changes in carotenoid synthesis in Rhodospirillum rubrum during growth. 1956 The Biochemical journal

van Niel C.B. Natural selection in the microbial world. 1955 Journal of general microbiology

van Niel C.B. The chemoautotrophic and photosynthetic bacteria. 1954 Annual review of microbiology

van Niel C.B., Allen M.B., Wright B.E. On the photochemical reduction of nitrate by algae 1953 BBA - Biochimica et Biophysica Acta

van Niel C.B., ALLEN M.B., WRIGHT B.E. On the photochemical reduction of nitrate by algae. 1953 Biochimica et biophysica acta

van Niel C.B. Introductory remarks on the comparative biochemistry of micro-organisms. 1953 Journal of cellular physiology. Supplement

LARSEN H., YOCUM C.S., van Niel C.B. On the energetics of the photosyntheses in green sulfur bacteria. 1952 The Journal of general physiology

ALLEN M.B., van Niel C.B. Experiments on bacterial denitrification. 1952 Journal of bacteriology

van Niel C.B., ALLEN M.B. A note on Pseudomonas stutzeri. 1952 Journal of bacteriology

van Niel C.B. The Delft School and the rise of general microbiology. 1949 Bacteriological reviews

van Niel C.B. The comparative biochemistry of photosynthesis. 1949 American scientist

van Niel C.B. Studies on the pigments of the purple bacteria - III. The yellow and red pigments of Rhodopseudomonas spheroides 1947 Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

van Niel C.B. Light and life-photosynthesis 1946 Chemical And Engineering News

Recent advances in our knowledge of the physiology of microorganisms, van Niel, CB. BACTERIOLOGICAL REVIEWS Volume: 8 Issue: 4 Pages: 225-234 Published: DEC 1944

The culture, general physiology, morphology, and classification of the non-sulfur purple and brown bacteria, van Niel, CB. BACTERIOLOGICAL REVIEWS Volume: 8 Issue: 1 Pages: 1-118 Published: MAR 1944

Biochemical problems of the chemo-autotrophic bacteria, van Niel, CB. PHYSIOLOGICAL REVIEWS Volume: 23 Issue: 4 Pages: 338-354 Published: OCT 1943

On the metabolism of Candida albicans, van Niel, CB; Cohen, AL. JOURNAL OF CELLULAR AND COMPARATIVE PHYSIOLOGY Volume: 20 Issue: 1 Pages: 95-112 Published: AUG 1942

Radioactive carbon as an indicator of carbon dioxide utilization IX The assimilation of carbon dioxide by protozoa, van Niel, CB; Thomas, JO; Ruben, S; et al. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Volume: 28 Pages: 157-161 Published: 1942

The main outlines of bacterial classification, Stanier, RY; van Niel, CB. JOURNAL OF BACTERIOLOGY Volume: 42 Issue: 4 Pages: 437-466 Published: OCT 1941

On the occurrence of fermentative assimilation, van Niel, CB; Anderson, EH. JOURNAL OF CELLULAR AND COMPARATIVE PHYSIOLOGY Volume: 17 Issue: 1 Pages: 49-56 Published: FEB 1941

Spence D., van Niel C.B. Bacterial Decomposition of the Rubber in HeVea Latex 1936 Industrial and Engineering Chemistry

van Niel C.B. On the metabolism of the thiorhodaceae 1936 Archiv für Mikrobiologie

van Niel C.B. A note on the apparent absence of azotobacter in soils 1935 Archiv für Mikrobiologie

van Niel C.B., Smith J.H.C. Studies on the pigments of the purple bacteria - I. On spirilloxanthin, a component of the pigment complex of Spirillum rubrum 1935 Archiv für Mikrobiologie

van Niel C.B. On the morphology and physiology of the purple and green sulphur bacteria 1932 Archiv für Mikrobiologie

Bacterial decomposition of the rubber in Hevea latex, Spence, D; van Niel, CB. INDUSTRIAL AND ENGINEERING CHEMISTRY Volume: 28 Pages: 847-850 Published: 1936

Memorial Resolution:

Cornelis Bernardus Van Niel 1897 - 1985