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Burnett, Waldo Irving (12 July 1828–01 July 1854), zoologist and physician, was born in Southborough, Massachusetts, the son of Joel Burnett, a physician, and Sarah (maiden name unknown). His early education, obtained at local schools, seems to have been eclectic, and he neither sought nor received a college degree. From his father, who was a skilled physician and a dedicated botanist and entomologist, he acquired an interest and received training in medicine and zoology. In his early boyhood, he embarked on the study of insects and other animals with an intensity that would characterize his life. He was precocious, something of a prodigy, and an autodidact. He developed such ability in mathematics that his teachers were no longer capable of giving him instruction. Almost without assistance he mastered French, Spanish, and German. By the age of sixteen he had dedicated himself to the study of medicine; his decision was stimulated by involvement in his father’s professional activities. Equally enthralled by entomology, he collected, studied, and classified insects, demonstrating critical powers of inquiry and observation. A change in the family’s finances following his father’s death during Burnett’s sixteenth year made it necessary for him to begin teaching school as he embarked on the study of medicine. He received his medical education under the direction of Dr. Joseph Sargent of Worcester, Massachusetts, at the Tremont Medical School in Boston and Massachusetts General Hospital and became a skilled microscopist and essayist. For two consecutive years (1847 and 1848) he was awarded the prize for the best essay offered by the Boylston Medical Society. In the first of his prize essays, titled “Cancer,” he addressed the subject in terms of microscopic tissue structure, a pioneering insight for the time. His second essay, “The Sexual System,” was one of the earliest American contributions to the fields of reproductive biology and embryology. Burnett was awarded the degree of doctor of medicine in 1849 at the age of twenty-one. Shortly thereafter, he embarked for Europe, where he spent four months, mostly in Paris, engaged in microscopic observations and the study of natural history. While in Paris, he discovered that he had tuberculosis, the disease that eventually killed him. Returning to the United States, he became a peripatetic scholar for reasons of health. Based in Boston, he passed the winters in South Carolina, Georgia, or Florida. In spite of his constant travels, he was incessantly occupied with microscopic observations and accomplished an almost incredible amount of intellectual labor....

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Girard, Charles Frédéric (09 March 1822–29 January 1895), zoologist and physician, was born in Mulhouse, Haut-Rhin, France; his parents’ names are unknown. He received his education at the College de Neuchâtel in Switzerland, beginning probably in 1839. There he was a student and later an assistant to ...

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Harlow, Harry Frederick (31 October 1905–06 December 1981), comparative psychologist and primatologist, was born Harry Frederick Israel in Fairfield, Iowa, the son of Lon Israel, at times a merchandiser, inventor, and owner of a country store, and Mable Rock. He entered Reed College in 1923 but transferred after a year to Stanford University, where he earned a B.A. in 1927 (major in psychology) and a Ph.D. in 1930 (specialization in comparative psychology). In the anti-Semitic climate of the day, the name of Israel was making it difficult for Stanford faculty advisers to place him in an academic position. They recommended that he change his surname, and so in 1930, shortly before receiving his Ph.D., he legally became Harry Harlow. He accepted a faculty appointment at the University of Wisconsin that same year. Upon assuming the position, he was thwarted in conducting research using rats because the psychology department’s animal laboratory had been torn down during the summer before his arrival. He therefore turned to studying primates at the local zoo and thence began his career as a primatologist. He remained at Wisconsin until his retirement in 1974, except for leaves of absence in 1939–1940 as Carnegie fellow in anthropology at Columbia University and in 1950–1952 as head of the Human Resources Research Branch of the Department of the Army. From 1974 to the time of his death he was a visiting scholar at the University of Arizona. Harlow was thrice married: to Clara Mears from 1932 until their divorce in 1946, to Margaret Kuenne from 1948 until her death in 1971, and again to his first wife, Clara, in 1972. There were two children from each of the first two marriages....

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Lillie, Frank Rattray (27 June 1870–05 November 1947), scientist, was born in Toronto, Canada, son of accountant George Waddell Lillie and Emily Ann Rattray. Both Lillie’s grandfathers were clergymen, and his family expected him to follow in their footsteps. Instead, upon entering the University of Toronto in 1887, Lillie majored in the natural sciences. His interest in biology, especially embryology and physiological perspectives, blossomed under faculty members R. Ramsay Wright and A. B. Macallum. Lillie received his A.B. in 1891 and immediately left to attend his first summer session at Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Massachusetts. He spent the next fifty-five summers at the MBL....

Article

Twitty, Victor Chandler (05 November 1901–22 March 1967), embryologist and zoologist, was born near Shoals, Indiana, the son of John McMahon Twitty and Emma Chandler. Twitty grew up in southern Indiana but moved to Indianapolis with his family shortly after graduation from high school. After working for a year at a variety of jobs, he entered local Butler College in 1921 as a premedical student. Thoughts of a future in medicine were soon eclipsed by the more immediate lure of science, to which Twitty was introduced by several professors in the first semester of his freshman year. The move into science began with botany and led to a major in chemistry. Twitty could not recall later why he eventually settled on zoology. He graduated from Butler in 1925....