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Robert Brown was a Scottish botanist who pioneered the use of the microscope in botany, which he used to describe the nucleus of a cell. He also developed the idea of what is now called the Brownian motion which explained the random movement of minute particles in a fluid.
See the fact file below for more information on the Robert Brown or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Robert Brown worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
EARLY LIFE & FAMILY
- Robert Brown was born on December 21, 1773, in Montrose, Scotland.
- He was born the only son of James Brown, a Scottish Episcopalian clergyman, and Helen Brown née Taylor, a daughter of a Presbyterian minister.
- Young Robert attended Montrose Academy, a local Grammar School, and Marischal College at Aberdeen.
- When Brown was 17 years old, his family moved to Edinburgh, and he had to withdraw from the college in his fourth year.
- Robert’s father died the following year.
- Brown studied medicine at the University of Aberdeen and University of Edinburgh.
- Robert Brown dropped out of studying medicine in 1793.
- Brown grew interested in botany and made expeditions into the Scottish Highlands to collect and study plants.
- He extensively studied the plants he collected and wrote detailed botanical descriptions of them.
- His early botanical studies motivated him to initiate correspondence with British botanists.
- He corresponded with some of the pioneering British botanists at the time, James Dickson and William Withering.
- Brown also collected plant specimens for them to study.
- Brown discovered a new species of grass, Alopecurus alpinus.
- He also delivered his first botanical paper, “The botanical history of Angus” to the Edinburgh Natural History Society in 1792.
- The paper was not published in his lifetime.
- From 1795 to 1800, he served in the British army in Ireland as an assistant surgeon.
- Brown was an established botanist before the 19th century began.
- He had been nominated to the Linnean Society of London.
- He had an algae species named after him: Conferva brownii (now named Aegagropila linnaei).
- In 1798, Sir Joseph Banks of the Royal Society recommended Brown to be a naturalist aboard the Investigator.
- In July, 1801, Brown began to sail with the expedition.
- Under the command of Matthew Flinders, the ship traveled along the Australian coasts to survey the land.
- The ship reached King George Sound, Western Australia in December, 1801.
- There was much botanical diversity in King George Sound.
- During this expedition, Brown collected many plant specimens.
- When he got back to England in 1805, he began his extensive classification of the specimens he collected.
- He had gathered around 3,900 species!
- Five years later, Brown published partial results of the botanical studies he had done from the flora collected on the expedition.
- His publication, which is considered his major work, was entitled “Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van Diemen.”
- Brown’s publication contributed to previous plant classification systems as well as established the foundations for Australian flora.
- As a botanical researcher, Brown was very meticulous and included as many significant details as possible no matter how small they were.
- He then went on to publish his studies on the plant family Proteaceae.
- His study proved that pollen grain could help in re-classifying plants.
- In 1820, Brown inherited the extensive library and plant collection of Sir Joseph Banks.
- Seven years later, Brown became the head of the botanical department of the British Museum and bequeathed the Banks’ collection to the museum.
- Brown was also the first to distinguish gymnosperms from angiosperms.
- In 1828, Brown published “A Brief Account of Microscopical Observations,” a pamphlet about his observations of the random motion of microscopic particles.
- The particles are now known as amyloplasts.
- Brown observed that these particles were in rapid motion within pollen grains of many plants.
- After further experimentation, he noticed similar movement with other substances suspended in water.
- His observation is now known as the Brownian motion, which is a general property of matter revealing random oscillatory movement of particles suspended in fluid.
- In his studies, he used the microscope extensively to observe plant specimens.
- Brown demonstrated exceptional ability in drawing conclusions from selected data.
- In 1831, he coined the term “nucleus” of a cell upon studying plants that led to his observation of the existence of a structure within plant cells.
- He was not the first to observe the nucleus of a cell, but he was the one who came up with the term nucleus.
HONOR & LEGACY
- Brown became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1810.
- He was the president of the Linnean Society for four years (1849 to 1853).
- A number of Australian plant species are named after Brown, such as Brown’s box (Eucalyptus brownii) and Brown’s banksia (Banksia brownii).
Robert Brown Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Robert Brown across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Robert Brown worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Robert Brown who was a Scottish botanist who pioneered the use of the microscope in botany, which he used to describe the nucleus of a cell. He also developed the idea of what is now called the Brownian motion which explained the random movement of minute particles in a fluid.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Robert Brown Facts
- Biography of Brown
- Discovery Timeline
- Brown or Bluff
- Australian Discoveries
- Motion Illustration
- Under the Microscope
- Parts of a Cell
- British Botanists
- Plant Profile
- My Own Expedition
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Link will appear as Robert Brown Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 26, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
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