Reader's Encyclopedia

Agassiz, Jean Louis Rodolphe (1807 - 1873)

Swiss naturalist, teacher, and author. Agassiz came to the U.S. in 1846 as a lecturer with an established reputation; deciding to remain permanently, he became widely known as a professor at Harvard and curator of the Agassiz Museum at Cambridge. He was the founder of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. A fluent writer on geology and zoology, Agassiz, showed an astonishing command of English. His major work is called Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America (4 vols, 1857-62). An effective teacher of laymen and scientists, he epitomized his method in the directive: " Go to Nature; take the facts in your own hands; look, and see for yourself! " Opposed to the Darwinian theory of evolution, Agassiz did succeed in arousing interest in the natural sciences and establishing methods of study and classification. A member of the famous Saturday Club, he exchanged ideas with leading men of letters.

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