Biography

The Baltic-German Karl Ernst von Baer (in Russian, Karl Maksimovich Ber) was born on February 28,1792 (new calendar) on the Estate of Piep in the province of Estonia of the Russian Empire. In 1807-1810, Baer attended Tallinn (Reval) Cathedral School, and in 1810-1814 he studied medicine at the University of Tartu (Dorpat). After graduating, Baer continued his studies at the universities of Vienna, Würzburg, and Berlin (1815 to 1817). From 1817-1834, Baer taught at the University of Königsberg and received a full professorship in zoology in 1822. In 1826, Baer was elected a full professor of comparative anatomy at Königsberg. In 1828, St Petersburg Academy of Sciences elected Baer as an academician (and a second time in 1834). Until 1846, Baer worked as a zoologist at St Petersburg Academy, and from then until 1862 as a comparative anatomist and physiologist. In 1835-1862, Baer headed the second department of the Library of the St Petersburg Academy of Sciences, and in 1841-1852 he also served as professor of comparative anatomy in the St Petersburg Medico-Surgical Academy (military academy). In 1837, Baer conducted an expedition to Novaya Zemlya, and in 1840 to Lapland. In 1838-1842, he made several trips to the northern coast of the Gulf of Finland and its islands, in 1851-1852 to Lake Peipsi and the Baltic Sea, in 1853-1856 to the River Volga and the Caspian Sea, and in 1862 to the Sea of Azov. In addition to these activities, Baer worked for several ministries, including the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of State Property, and the Ministry of Education.

Baer spent the last years of his life (1867-1876) in Dorpat (Tartu), where he mainly wrote articles on theoretical biology, criticizing the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin. Baer wrote over 400 scientific papers and was a member of many (nearly 100) scientific institutions, among them the Austro-Hungarian Academy of Sciences (1865), an honorary member of the University of Tartu, the Royal Society of London (1854), the Belgian Royal Academy of Sciences (1858), the Academy of Sciences of Paris (1858), the Prussian Academy of Sciences (1861), and a founder and the first president of the Russian Entomological Society (1860-1861). Seven different geographical objects on different continents of the world bear the name of Baer. He died on November 28, 1876 in Tartu (Dorpat) in Estonia.

Erki Tammiksaar

See also Middendorf, Alexander Further Reading

Baer, K.E. von, Autobiography of Dr. Karl Ernst von Baer, edited by Jane M. Oppenheimer, Science History Publications USA Canton: Watson, 1986 -, Materialien zur Kenntniss des unvergänglichen BodenEises in Sibirien Die erste Dauerfrostbodenkunde, Hrsg. von Lorenz King, Giessen: Universitätsbibliothek, 2001 Tammiksaar, E., Geograficheskie aspekty tvorchestva Karla Bera v 1830-40 gg [Geographical aspects in the scientific research of Karl Ernst von Baer in the 1830-40s], Tartu: Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus (Dissertationes geographicae Universitatis Tartuensis, 11), 2000 -, "The contributions of Karl Ernst von Baer to the investigation of the physical geography of the Arctic in the 1830s-1840s." Polar Record, 38(205) (2002): 121-140

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