The Cycle of Life:
An History of Experimental Ecology

Sterling Memorial
Kline Sciences
Medical Historical
Exhibit Map

Jean Baptiste Boussingault, Economie Rurale, 1843

From 1790-1830, two generations of chemists developed Lavoisier’s carbon cycle and investigations into plant and animal physiology into a new science of organic chemistry. After training with Dumas, Jean Baptiste Boussingault applied organic chemistry to numerous agricultural questions. Even though Liebig became the more popular name in scientific agriculture, it was Boussingault who is cited more often in the scientific literature--even by Liebig himself. Boussingault’s greatest contribution to understanding the role of life in natural processes, was his experimental elucidation of the “nitrogen cycle.”

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Lloyd Ackert
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