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Natural History

nach' er al his'to rE, the study of organisms and natural objects


Louis AgassizLouis Agassiz
was one of Europe's most prominent experts on living and fossil fishes, as well as one of the first scientists to propose that all of central Europe had once been buried beneath a massive sheet of ice. After moving to the United States, he spurred development of a Museum of Natural History at Harvard University.
George Wells BeadleGeorge Wells Beadle
shared the 1958 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with two colleagues for experiments with a bread mold that enabled them to conclude that each gene determined the structure of a specific enzyme that, in turn, allowed a single chemical reaction to proceed.
David Ross BrowerDavid Ross Brower
spent his life working to preserve the environment and natural resources of the earth. To that end he founded Friends of the Earth, the League of Conservation Voters, Earth Island Institute, and other environmental groups. He also helped create a number of national parks.
Stephen Jay GouldStephen Jay Gould
became interested in paleontology at the age of five. As an adult, he co-developed the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which says that the creation of new species through evolutionary change occurs in rather rapid bursts over periods as short as thousands of years. He also did much to make science understandable to untrained readers.
Ernst Heinrich Philipp August HaeckelErnst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel
studied the embryos of many different kinds of animals and made drawings, many of which are still used in biology books. Seeing that the embryos of very different types of animals often looked remarkably similar during their earliest stages of development, he formulated his theory of recapitulation.
Jean Baptiste LamarckJean Baptiste Lamarck
believed that if an animal began using an organ more than it had in the past, the size of that organ would increase during its lifetime. For example, if a giraffe stretched its neck to reach higher leaves, a "nervous fluid" would flow into its neck and make it longer over time.
Antonie von LeeuwenhoekAntonie von Leeuwenhoek
used microscopes of his own design and construction to become the first person to study protozoa, bacteria, and other microscopic organisms. In so doing, he also became the first scientist to disprove the theory of spontaneous generation.
Carolus LinnaeusCarolus Linnaeus
developed the system now called binomial nomenclature, which gives to each plant or animal two names. The first indicates the genus (related group) to which belongs, while the second gives the species (specific name) of the specific plant or animal within the genus.
Gregor Johann MendelGregor Johann Mendel
was the first to conduct detailed experiments in heredity by focusing on individual characteristics within a single plant species. His 30-plus years of study resulted in his discovery of genes, and of how those genes combine to create a wide diversity of characteristics.
Archibald MenziesArchibald Menzies
accompanied Captain George Vancouver on his voyage around the world. His job was to investigate the whole of the natural history of the countries visited and enumerate all trees, shrubs, plants, etc. found by their scientific names. His name is commemorated in the scientific names of several of the plants he discovered.
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