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Angell, James Rowland (08 May 1869–04 March 1949), academic psychologist and fourteenth president of Yale University, was born in Burlington, Vermont, the son of James Burrill Angell, president of the University of Vermont and later the president of the University of Michigan, and Sarah Swope Caswell, daughter of ...

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Ayres, Leonard Porter (15 September 1879–29 October 1946), educator, statistician, and economist, was born in Niantic, Connecticut, the son of Milan Church Ayres and Georgiana Gall. His father, a clergyman, author, and journalist, was editor of the Boston Daily Advertiser. The family moved to Newton Highlands, Massachusetts, where Leonard received his early education in public schools. An avid bicycle racer, he participated in national matches as a young man. After receiving his Ph.B. degree from Boston University in 1902, he taught school in Puerto Rico, rising rapidly to become general superintendent of the island’s schools and chief of the Education Department’s Statistics Division in 1906. Returning to the states, he moved to New York City and joined the Russell Sage Foundation in 1908 to conduct investigations of the health and education of schoolchildren under the direction of ...

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Barnard, Frederick Augustus Porter (05 May 1809–27 April 1889), scientist and university president, was born in Sheffield, Massachusetts, the son of Robert Foster Barnard, an attorney, and Augusta Porter. He attended school at the Saratoga Academy across the state border in New York and then at the Stockbridge Academy, where he was a classmate and friendly rival of ...

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George Wells Beadle. Courtesy of the Clendening History of Medicine Library, University of Kansas Medical Center.

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Beadle, George Wells (22 October 1903–09 June 1989), geneticist and university president, was the son of Hattie Albro and Chauncey Elmer Beadle, farmers near Wahoo, Nebraska. He was raised on a small farm that was noteworthy for its sound agricultural practices. After the early death of his mother and the accidental death of an older brother, it was assumed that he would take over the farm. Instead, thanks to the beneficent influence of Bess MacDonald, a high school teacher, he went to college. Further encouraged by the mentoring of Franklin D. Keim, an agronomy professor at the Nebraska College of Agriculture, Beadle entered graduate school at Cornell University in 1927 to pursue a career in biology....

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Berry, Edward Wilber (10 February 1875–20 September 1945), paleobotanist, teacher, and university administrator, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Abijah Conger Berry and Anna Wilber. Berry is a classic example of the self-trained scientist. He received elementary courses in biology and botany in high school that roused his interest in nature. Berry completed the three-year course in two years and finished his formal education at thirteen. From 1890 to 1897 he worked for a cotton goods company, rising from stock boy to traveling salesman. Berry then entered the newspaper world as business manager for the ...

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Birge, Edward Asahel (07 September 1851–09 June 1950), limnologist and president of the University of Wisconsin, was born in Troy, New York, the son of Edward White Birge, a carpenter, farmer, and bookkeeper, and Ann Stevens. The family was Presbyterian and deeply religious. After completing high school, Birge was sent to Williams College from 1869 to 1873, with the expectation that he might become a physician. There he excelled in natural history (earning a B.A. in 1873 and an M.A. in 1876), and one of his professors advised him to study under ...

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Bowman, Isaiah (26 December 1878–06 January 1950), geographer, geologist, and educator, was born at Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario, Canada, the son of Samuel Cressman Bowman and Emily Shantz, farmers. When he was eight weeks old the family moved to a farm near Brown City, Michigan. After attending country schools, Bowman began teaching. At age twenty-one he enrolled in the Ferris Institute, a college preparatory school in Big Rapids, Michigan, where he was influenced by geographer Harlan H. Barrows. In 1900, after a year of intensive study, he entered the Normal School in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he studied under ...

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John Casper Branner. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-96641).

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Branner, John Casper (04 July 1850–01 March 1922), geologist and university president, was born in New Market, Tennessee, the son of Michael T. Branner, a third-generation Tennessee landowner, and Elsie Baker. Branner attended local schools, read the few books he could find, and developed an active curiosity about the plants, animals, and rocks of his neighborhood. In 1870, after spending two years at nearby Maryville College, he entered Cornell University, where he studied with geology professor Charles F. Hartt, who had made several scientific expeditions to Brazil. Hartt took Branner to Brazil with him in 1874, and the following year, when the Brazilian government appointed Hartt head of a commission to direct the first geological survey of the country, he appointed Branner his assistant. This was the beginning of Branner’s lifelong interest in the geology of Brazil, about which little was then known....

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Brush, George Jarvis (15 December 1831–06 February 1912), geologist and administrator, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Jarvis Brush, an importing merchant, and Sarah Keeler. When Brush was about four, his father retired from business, and the family moved to Danbury, Connecticut, for six years, then returned to Brooklyn. In each place Brush’s education was in private schools. When he was fifteen, he attended for six months a school in West Cornwall, Connecticut, conducted by Theodore S. Gold, who was keenly interested in mineralogy and natural history. These subjects appealed to Brush, but he was expected by his family to go into business. He worked in a mercantile house in New York City for about two years from 1847, occasionally finding time to collect minerals....

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Bunting, Mary (10 July 1910–21 January 1998), college educator and microbiologist, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the eldest child of Henry Andrews Ingraham, a lawyer, and Mary Shotwell Ingraham, a community activist. Her well-educated parents were committed to bringing culture to their children, along with a love of the outdoors. Family life was close and satisfying for Polly (so called to avoid confusion with her mother), who appreciated her father’s interests in art and literature and her mother’s community commitments, including as a member of the New York City Board of Higher Education and the national president of the Young Women’s Christian Association....

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Caswell, Alexis (29 January 1799–08 January 1877), science professor and administrator, was born in Taunton, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Caswell and Polly Seaver, farmers. The boy attended an academy in Taunton, then entered Brown University. There he “bore the highest honors of his class,” said his biographer William Gammell. He gave the valedictory address at his graduation in 1822. During his college years he joined the First Baptist Church in Providence, Rhode Island, with which he was associated for the rest of his life....

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James Bryant Conant. Photography by Louis Fabian Bachrach. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98700).

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Conant, James Bryant (26 March 1893–11 February 1978), educator and scientist, was born in the Dorchester section of Boston, Massachusetts, the son of James Scott Conant, a photo engraver and real estate developer, and Jennett Orr. Conant attended the Roxbury Latin School, a public boys’ six-year examination school in Boston, and subsequently attended graduate school at Harvard University on an academic scholarship, where he studied chemistry with Nobel Prize winner ...

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Cope, Arthur Clay (27 June 1909–04 June 1966), chemistry professor and administrator, was born in Dunreith, Indiana, the son of Everett C. Cope and Jennie Compton, grain storage operators. Cope received the bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1929 from Butler University in Indianapolis. He then worked with ...

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Dabney, Charles William (19 June 1855–15 June 1945), educator, college president, and agrichemist, was born in Hampden-Sydney, Virginia, the son of Robert Louis Dabney, a Presbyterian theologian, and Margaretta Lavinia Morrison. His mother and father were both from prominent southern families, and his father served as chaplain to ...

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Elvehjem, Conrad Arnold (27 May 1901–27 July 1962), biochemist and university administrator, was born near McFarland, Wisconsin, the son of Ole Johnson Elvehjem and Christine Lewis, farmers. Growing up on a farm gave Elvehjem a lifelong interest in understanding living things, which he pursued as a researcher in biochemistry and nutrition. His interest in vitamins started as a child, when he read a magazine article about the research done by early pioneers in nutrition including ...

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Fred, Edwin Broun (22 March 1887–16 January 1981), bacteriologist and university president, was born in Middleburg, Virginia, the son of Samuel Rogers Fred, a landowner, and Catherine “Kate” Conway Broun. Fred’s interest in science began as a boy in Virginia. Having completed his B.S. at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI) in 1907, Fred stayed on to complete his M.S. at the same institution in 1908. While pursuing this first phase of graduate work, he held an appointment as an assistant in bacteriology. For his doctoral work Fred went abroad in 1909, getting his Ph.D. from the University of Göttingen in Germany in 1911. This was a natural decision given that the virtues of German graduate education were extolled by many at VPI, including bacteriology professor Meade Ferguson, who himself received a Ph.D. at Göttingen. Fred studied under some of the leading scientists of the day, including bacteriologist Alfred Koch....

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Gould, Laurence McKinley (22 August 1896–21 June 1995), educator, geologist, and explorer, was born in Lacota, Michigan, the son of Herbert Gould and Anna Updike, farmers. In 1914 he left the family farm and moved to Boca Raton, Florida, where he taught in a one-room schoolhouse. He also helped to found a Sunday school class and with his students published the ...