Louis Agassiz

Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz (/ˈæɡəsi/; French: [aɡasi]) FRS (For) FRSE (May 28, 1807 – December 14, 1873) was a Swiss-born American biologist and geologist who is recognized as a scholar of Earth's natural history.

Louis Agassiz

Born(1807-05-28)May 28, 1807
DiedDecember 14, 1873(1873-12-14) (aged 66)
CitizenshipUnited States
EducationUniversity of Erlangen-Nuremberg (Ph.D.)
University of Munich
Known forIce age, Polygenism
Spouse(s)Cecilie Braun
Elizabeth Cabot Cary
Children3, including Alexander and Pauline
AwardsWollaston Medal (1836)
Scientific career
Fields
InstitutionsUniversity of Neuchâtel
Harvard University
Cornell University
Doctoral advisorCarl Friedrich Philipp von Martius
Other academic advisorsIgnaz Döllinger, Georges Cuvier, Alexander von Humboldt[1]
Notable studentsWilliam Stimpson, William Healey Dall, Carl Vogt[1]
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Spending his early life in Switzerland, he received a doctor of philosophy and a medical degree at Erlangen and Munich, respectively. After studying with Georges Cuvier and Alexander von Humboldt in Paris, Agassiz was appointed professor of natural history at the University of Neuchâtel. He emigrated to the United States in 1847 after he visited Harvard University. He went on to become professor of zoology and geology at Harvard, to head its Lawrence Scientific School, and to found its Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Agassiz is known for his regimen of observational data gathering and analysis. He made vast institutional and scientific contributions to zoology, geology, and related areas, including writing multivolume research books running to thousands of pages. He is particularly known for his contributions to ichthyological classification, including of extinct species such as megalodon, and to the study of geological history, including the founding of glaciology.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, his resistance to Darwinian evolution, his belief in creationism and the scientific racism implicit in his writings on human polygenism have tarnished his reputation and led to controversies over his legacy.