Class blog for sharing and commenting on current events in biology.

Friday, March 20, 2015

"Unsung" Scientist Hero: Alfred Wallace

Ben Grieco
Biology 3rd Quarter Current Event

“Unsung” Scientist Hero: Alfred Wallace

Alfred Wallace made huge advancements in the field of biology, yet he isn’t nearly as famous as other scientists in the world, as he hasn’t received close to the amount of attention and credit he deserves for his achievements in science. Wallace was a British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist, and biologist who was best known for the co-discovery of natural selection and pioneering work on biogeography.
Alfred Wallace was born in Wales in 1923. When he was young, his parents had financial troubles, so they struggled to pay for his education. As a result, he was taken out of school at only 14 years old. After being withdrawn from the school, Wallace became an apprentice surveyor to his older brother, William. But, as his older brother’s business declined due to economic troubles, Wallace left that job. After being unemployed for a brief amount of time, Wallace was hired to work at a collegiate school in Leicester as a professor. At the college, Wallace taught drawing, mapmaking, and surveying. Following his job at the college, Wallace, with his younger brother John, started an architecture and civil engineering firm.
Wallace’s most important work was initiated when he began his real career as a traveling naturalist. When he started traveling, Wallace had already believed in the transmutation of species, which is the term to describe the idea for the altering of one species into another. The transmutation of species was advocated by many scientists, but since it was considered a radical idea, it was also criticized by many more experts. This idea was important because it preceded Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. In his travels, Wallace came to the conclusion that every species has come into existence coincident both in space and time with a close allied species. Later in his life, Wallace wrote the book Darwinism, which explained natural selection, and defended his and Charles Darwin’s ideas.
Also, Wallace contributed to the science fields of biogeography and ecology, and put in plenty of effort to help cure many environmental problems, such as deforestation, soil erosion, and invasive species.
Unfortunately, Wallace died in 1913, at 90 years old. He was one of many under appreciated scientists who never received the proper recognition for their work.


  1. Ben did a great job describing who Alfred Wallace was, he did this by giving exposition on his childhood and life in the first two paragraphs. He also made it very easy to read. I felt I did not need to read it multiple times, since it was simple to follow. Ben also presented Alfred Wallace’s accomplishments well. In Ben’s writing I learned about Alfred Wallace’s accomplishments. For instance, that he wrote the book Darwinism explaining natural selection, while defending his and Charles Darwin’s ideas. I also learned he received little education, because his family had financial troubles, and that he tried many jobs until he found his love as a traveling naturalist. Ben’s blog post could have been better if he stated why Wallace was an unsung hero of science. We get left hanging at the end with no reason why Wallace was celebrated.

  2. Ben immediately gives a great introduction, and description about who Alfred Wallace was and his accomplishments in the field of Biology. Ben made this current event an easy read, and it was very easy to follow because of his great detail. Ben was able to describe Wallace's accomplishment's which helped me learn a lot about him. His specific examples of Wallace's accomplishments helped me learn about him. I enjoyed reading this article because of Ben's great detail. I agree with Ara in his comment on how Ben could have stated why Wallace was an unsung hero of science, but all around it was a great current event to read.


  3. Wow Ben. First off, I’d like to acknowledge what great job Ben did on describing Alfred Wallace so that we had a clear understanding of his background as far as early life/ childhood and how he had little education because of financial troubles. Since you wrote very simply and eloquently it was easy to follow and I didn’t find myself having to re read any sentence since it was not a struggle to read. I also liked how Ben stated Alfred Wallace’s accomplishments that included his firm stance supporting Darwin’s ideas so that he wrote a book explaining natural selection which defended Darwinism. Some things Ben can improve on is explaining why Wallace is not as well known, and why he should be more.


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