Agassiz, Alexander

Agassiz, Alexander

Agassiz, Alexander (ăgˈəsē), 1835–1910, American naturalist and industrialist, b. Neuchâtel, Switzerland; son of Louis Agassiz, stepson of Elizabeth Cary Agassiz. He came to the United States in 1849 and studied at Harvard, receiving degrees in engineering (B.S., 1857) and natural history (B.S., 1862). Throughout his life he was connected in various capacities with Harvard. In 1871 he consolidated the Calumet and Hecla copper mines on Lake Superior and, as president, successfully developed the combined interests. He adopted safety and welfare measures relating to the mines. Agassiz contributed much of his fortune to science—chiefly in endowments to Harvard and to the Museum of Comparative Zoology which his father helped to found there. In 1877 he began oceanographic explorations, including detailed observations of the Pacific and the Caribbean. Noting that the deep-sea animals of the two are similar, he suggested that the Caribbean was a bay of the Pacific that had been cut off in the Cretaceous period by the rise of the Panama isthmus. His chief work is Revision of the Echini (2 vol., 1872–74).


See study by his son G. R. Agassiz (1913).

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Agassiz, Alexander (Emmanuel Rodolphe)

(1835–1910) oceanographer; born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He came to the U.S.A. (1849) to join his father, the naturalist Jean Louis Agassiz. He graduated from Harvard with degrees in engineering (1857) and zoology (1862), then amassed a fortune in the copper mines of Lake Superior (1866–69). He was curator of Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology (1873–85), founded by his father. He made numerous oceanographic zoological expeditions, wrote many books, and examined thousands of coral reefs to refute Darwin's ideas on atoll formation.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
Born in Switzerland in 1835 to the impecunious but brilliant zoologist Louis Agassiz, Alexander was destined to become a biologist.