Brown, Robert


Brown, Robert

biographical name

(born Dec. 21, 1773, Montrose, Angus, Scot.—died June 10, 1858, London, Eng.) Scottish botanist. The son of a clergyman, he studied medicine in Aberdeen and Edinburgh before entering the British army as an ensign and assistant surgeon (1795). He obtained the post of naturalist aboard a ship bound to survey the coasts of Australia (1801), and on the journey he gathered some 3,900 plant species. He published some of the results of his trip in 1810 in his classic Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae…, laying the foundations of Australian botany and refining prevailing plant classification systems. In 1827 he transferred Joseph Banks's botanical collection to the British Museum and became keeper of the museum's newly formed botanical department. The following year he published his observation of the phenomenon that came to be called Brownian motion. In 1831 he noted the existence in plant cells of what he called the nucleus. He was the first to recognize the distinction between gymnosperms and angiosperms (flowering plants).

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