Fraenkel, Gottfried Samuel (1901-1984) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Fraenkel, Gottfried Samuel (1901-1984)

Historical Note:

Gottfried Samuel Fraenkel (1901-1984), served as Professor of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He was a pioneering researcher in the fields of insect physiology, endocrinology, nutrition, and insect-plant co-evolution.

Gottfried S. Fraenkel was born on April 23, 1901, in Munich, Germany. Professor Fraenkel earned his doctorate in zoology from the University of Munich in 1925. He studied marine life in Italy, France, and England before moving to Palestine in 1928, where he worked in the Zoology Laboratory at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. There, he turned his attention to entomology. Fraenkel returned to Germany in 1932, but the rise of the Nazi state prompted him to move to London in 1933, where he worked as a research associate at University College, London and later as a lecturer at the Imperial College of the University of London. In 1948, he accepted a position in the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois, where he taught until his retirement in 1972.

Dr. Fraenkel made several important discoveries in the fields of insect behavior, physiology, nutrition, and endocrinology. Fraenkel achieved notable recognition for his studies on the chemical and sensory properties of insect-plant interaction, and he is credited for pioneering the field of insect-plant coevolution. In 1940, Dr. Fraenkel, along with Donald L. Gunn, wrote "Orientation of Animals," which was considered a seminal work on animal behavior. Fraenkel was also collected music scores and was a gifted musician.

Prior to immigrating to the U.S., Dr. Fraenkel married Rachel Sobel Fraenkel, an accomplished sculptor. They had two sons, Gideon and Daniel Fraenkel. Gottfried Fraenkel died in 1984 in Urbana, Illinois.


Kenan Heise, "Gottfried Frankel, 83; made major discoveries while studying insects," New York Times, October 27, 1984.

"Gottfried S. Fraenkel; Studied Insect Biology," New York Times, November 1, 1984.

C. Ladd Prosser, Stanley Friedman, and Judith H. Willis, "Gottfried Samuel Fraenkel, 1901-1984" in National Academy of Science's Biographical Memoirs (1990), 169-195.

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