William James Beal

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William James Beal
Born (1833-03-11)March 11, 1833
Adrian, Michigan
Died May 12, 1924(1924-05-12) (aged 91)
Amherst, Massachusetts
Nationality American
Fields Botanist
Institutions University of Chicago
Michigan State University
Alma mater University of Michigan
Harvard University
University of Chicago
Known for Pioneer in the development of hybrid corn
Founder of W. J. Beal Botanical Garden
Spouse Hannah Proud Beal

William James Beal (March 11, 1833 – May 12, 1924) was an American botanist. He was a pioneer in the development of hybrid corn and the founder of the W. J. Beal Botanical Garden.

Biography[edit]

Beal was born in Adrian, Michigan, to William and Rachel (Comstock) Beal,[1] and he married Hannah Proud in 1863. He attended the University of Michigan, which gave him an A.B. degree in 1859 and an A.M. degree in 1862; he also received an S.B. degree from Harvard University, 1865, an M.S. degree from the University of Chicago, 1875, and a number of honorary degrees.[2]

He served as professor of botany at the University of Chicago in 1868-70, then went on to Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University), where he was a professor of botany (1871-1910), and curator of the museum (1882-1903). He also served as director of the state Forestry Commission (1889-1892).[2]

Beal was the founder of MSU's W. J. Beal Botanical Garden, the oldest continuously operated botanical garden in the United States. He was one of the pioneers in the development of hybrid corn. He was the author of The New Botany, Grasses of North America, and History of Michigan Agricultural College.[2]

In 1887, he and Professor Rolla C. Carpenter created "Collegeville", the first neighborhood in what later became East Lansing.[2]

He retired to Amherst, Massachusetts, and died there in 1924.[2]

Germination Experiment[edit]

In 1879 Beal started one of the longest running experiments in botany. He filled 20 bottles with a mix of sand and seeds with each bottle containing 50 seeds from 21 species of plant. Then the bottles were buried, their necks pointing down so that water wouldn't get in. The goal of the experiment was to dig up one of the bottles every five years, plant the seeds, and see how many of them would sprout. Later caretakers extended the experiment by opening a bottle only once every decade, and later, every two decades. The most recent bottle was dug up in 2000, and 2 of the 21 plant species sprouted. The experiment is still running, with the next bottle due to be dug up in 2020,[3] with the end of the study due in 2100.[4][5][6][7][8]

Quotation[edit]

Merely learning the name of a plant or parts of a plant can no longer be palmed off as valuable training.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Beal, William James Bea (1915). History of the Michigan Agricultural College: And Biographical Sketches of Trustees and Professors. Agricultural college. p. 414. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "MSU’S ICONIC PROFESSORS" by Bob Bao, MSU Alumni, Spring 2003
  3. ^ Experiments That Keep Going And Going And Going
  4. ^ Beal, W. J. 1884. The vitality of seeds. Proc. Soc. Promot. Agric. Sci. 5:44-46.
  5. ^ Beal, W.J. 1905. The vitality of seeds. Bot. Gaz. 38:140-143.
  6. ^ Darlington, H.T. 1941. The sixty-year period for Dr. Beal's seed viability experiment. Amer. J. Bot. 28:271-273.
  7. ^ Kivilaan, A. & Bandurski, R. S. 1981. The one hundred-year period for Dr. Beal's seed viability experiment. Amer. J. Bot. 68:1290-1292.
  8. ^ Telewski, F. W. and Zeevaart, J. 2002. The 120th year of the Beal seed viability study. Amer. J. Bot. 89(8): 1285-1288.
  9. ^ "Author Query for 'Beal'". International Plant Names Index. 
  10. ^ "Life devoted to College is concluded: Teacher, scholar, philosopher, combined in qualities of Dr Beal". The M.A.C. Record 29 (30). May 19, 1924. 

External links[edit]