Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg

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Christian Gottfried
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Microbiologist Professor of Zoology member of the Academy of Sciences Rector of Berlin [Humboldt] University, 1855 - 1856

Son of Johann Ehrenberg, a city judge in Delitzsch, near Leipzig, Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg was one of the most famous and productive scientists of his day. In 1815 he entered a Theological College in Leipzig, however, two years later he, with his father's permission, moved to Berlin, to study medicine. There he studied natural sciences, and became a friend of the famous scientist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt. At Humboldt's recommendation, Ehrenberg traveled on a multiyear scientific expedition to the mid-east, where he collected thousands of specimens of plants and animals, many of which are still stored in the MfN in the Institute for Zoology.

After returning from this expedition, Ehrenberg began to concentrate his studies on microscopic organisms, which until then had not been systematically studied by science. In a period of nearly 30 years Ehrenberg examined samples of water, soil, sediment, rock - virtually whatever material might contain living or fossil microscopic organisms - and described thousands of new species, and hundreds of new genera, for science in nearly 400 scientific publications. As the result of this enormous work, Ehrenberg laid the foundation stone for today's field of Micropaleontology. Most of Ehrenberg's studies were of a unicellular group of protists called diatoms, although he also studied, and named, many species of radiolarians as well.

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