Agassiz, Jean Louis Rodolphe
Louis Agassiz was born at Môtier-en-Vuly, Switzerland, on May 28, 1807. He displayed an early interest in natural history. In 1824 he entered Universität Zürich for medical training, then moved to Universität Heidelberg in Germany. In Heidelberg his interest in natural history increased. His next move was to Universität München and, while there in 1829 and still only 21 years old, he published a work on Brazilian fishes, using the collected materials of von Martius and von Spix. His next zoological endeavor was to begin research on fossil fishes.
In 1831, he moved to Paris still with the ambition of completing his medical training. However, he spent part of each day studying fossil fishes and he came under the influence of Cuvier and adopted the latter’s views of creation. Thus, according to Agassiz, each species was the result of separate creation, not of evolution. In
At Harvard, he clashed with Asa Gray, professor of botany, about evolution, because Gray supported Darwin’s theory. However, it was Louis’ efforts and influence that led to the foundation of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, an institution that became very influential in research on insect systematics. He also was a cofounder of the U.S. National Science Foundation. He died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on December 14, 1873. His son Alexander and two daughters of his first marriage accompanied him to the USA (his first wife having died in Switzerland). Alexander Agassiz