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 After being withdrawn from the school, Wallace became an apprentice surveyor to his older brother, William.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.