Dr. Asa Gray (1810 - 1888)
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BiographyOne of the most eminent botanists of the 19th century, Gray was the person most responsible for bringing Darwinism to America. His main opponent in this enterprise was his fellow Harvard professor Louis Agassiz, who believed the geological record to show a series of independent creations separated by equally divine exterminations that cleared the decks for the next creation. Although something of a fundamentalist Christian himself, Gray felt that Darwin's theories were sufficiently convincing to take up the cause himself, even though he was a very shy man and Agassiz was quite a showman.
Gray collaborated with Darwin on research comparing the plants of Europe with those of New England. A few years later, Gray changed his area of comparison to temperate Asia, suggesting (in advance of plate tectonics) that New England and temperate Asia had once been geographically continuous and had a uniform flora which only diverged after the areas (note that this doesn't include the Western United States) were separated by later geological events. This hypothesis has not only held up, it has proved fruitful enough to provide a basis for current and important research.
Duane Isley (1994) One Hundred and One Botanists
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Home PageAsa Gray - Encyclopedia Britannica
Selected PublicationsDr. Asa Gray (1889) Scientific Papers of Asa Gray 2 vol.
I've used the Biographical Sketches in volume 2 of this work for some of the biographies in the database. They are often quite lengthy, quote from correspondence, and seem to do their best to run through the entire set of incidents of their subjects' lives. On the theory that it may save someone (perhaps myself) a trip to the library, I will list the 39 people that he biographies:
Louis Agassiz, George Bentham, Jacob Bigelow, Edmond Boissier, Francis Boott, Alexander Braun, Robert Brown, John Carey, George W. Clinton, Moses Ashley Curtis, Charles Darwin, Augustin Pyramis De Candolle, Joseph Decaisne, Chester Dewey, George Engelmann, Augustus Fendler, Elias Magnus Fries, Benjamin Greene, Daniel Hanbury, William Henry Harvey, Oswald Heer, William Jackson Hooker, Alexander von Humboldt, Thomas Potts James, John Lindley, John Amory Lowell, Hugo von Mohl, Charles Pickering, Johannes August Christian Roeper, Charles Wilkes Short, Henry P. Sartwell, William Starling Sullivant, John Torrey, Edward Tuckerman, Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, Frederick Welwitsch, Robert Wight, Charles Wright, Jeffries Wyman
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