Cowles, Henry Chandler


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Cowles, Henry Chandler

(1869–1939) botanist, ecologist; born in Kensington, Conn. An Oberlin College graduate (1893), he took his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago (1894). He taught at Gates College (Nebraska) (1894–95), spent the summer of 1895 as a field assistant to the U.S. Geological Survey, then joined the faculty of the University of Chicago (1898–1934). His work emphasized the relations between vegetation and geology, and his scholarly studies—including The Plant Societies of Chicago and Vicinity (1901)—helped establish the new scientific discipline of ecology. He made major contributions to studies of the vegetation in the forests, dunes, and prairies of the region around Lake Michigan and northern Illinois; he was instrumental in establishing forest reserves in Illinois; he cofounded the Ecological Society of America in 1915, serving as its president in 1918; he was coauthor of the once standard Textbook of Botany for Colleges and Universities (2 vols. 1910–11); and he edited the Botanical Gazette from 1925 until his retirement from the Chicago faculty.