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Dana, James Dwight (1813-1895) American Geologist, Mineralogist James Dana was born on February 12, 1813, in Utica, New York, in a region surrounded by Paleozoic sedimentary rocks and Precambrian crystalline rocks of the Adirondack Mountains. His teacher at Utica High School, Fay Edgerton, noticed the young Dana's keen interest in science and helped him gain entrance to Yale College, where he received scientific training by Benjamin Sil-liman, the prominent scientist and founder of the American Journal of Science. In terms of enduring scientific achievement James Dwight Dana is one of Yale's most notable scientific figures. His contributions to geology, mineralogy, and zoology formed the basis of classification systems still in use today by scientists in these fields of study.
After Dana graduated from Yale in 1833, he became a mathematics teacher to midshipmen in the U.S. Navy and sailed to the Mediterranean from 1833 to 1835. Dana returned to Yale in 1836 and 1837 and worked as an assistant to Silliman, helping with chemistry laboratories. In 1836 Dana was invited to be a scientific participant of the United States Exploring Expedition, due to sail to the South Seas in 1838. Originally invited on the expedition as its geologist, he assumed the role of zoologist after the departure of James Couthouy in 1840. Dana produced two important monographs based on his study of animals collected during the exploring expedition. These monographs, one on corals and anemones and the other on crustaceans, were extraordinary for their sheer size, scope, and detail. Virtually no modern coral or crustacean researcher today can undertake significant systematic research without encountering by James Dana's legacy.
Dana returned to America in 1842 and spent the next 13 years writing reports from his four years at sea, including detailed reports of the geology and mineralogy of the Mount Shasta, California, area, a poorly studied region at the time. Dana returned to New Haven, Connecticut, and Yale University in 1844, where he married Silliman's daughter Henrietta. He then succeeded Silliman by taking the Sil-liman professorship of natural history and geology and stayed in that position until 1892.
James Dana is best known for his books on mineralogy, including his System of Mineralogy, (1837), Manual of Mineralogy (1848), and Manual of Geology (1863). His other papers and books number more than 200, on topics ranging from crustaceans to volcanoes, to texts reconciling science and religion, and covering geographic areas from California to the South Pacific.
See also mineral, mineralogy; North American geology.
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