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Person of the Week: Ivan Pavlov

Published: January 19, 2020

This week, our feature is Иван Павлов (Ivan Pavlov), the world-famous Russian physiologist. Pavlov is the first Russian Nobel laureate, winning the 1904 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his advances in the study of digestive systems, and he is perhaps best known for his research on conditioned responses, during which he trained dogs to salivate at the ring of a bell. Pavlov was born in 1849 in Ryazan, a city in southeast of Moscow, in what was then the Russian Empire. Before beginning his scientific career, Pavlov initially enrolled in a seminary, but enrolled in university in Saint Petersburg before finishing his seminary studies. At university, he discovered his interest in natural sciences, specifically in physiology, and Pavlov eventually became the director of the Department of Physiology at the Institute of Experimental Medicine in St. Petersburg. Through his studies of canine digestion, he discovered that dogs would salivate in anticipation of food, and not just when the food was given to them. Following this realization, he began to study how that condition could be manipulated, which led to the discovery of classical conditioning, an idea that has been vastly important in a number of scientific fields, especially in the field of psychology.