Proper Lab Report Format You Need to Know to Pass with Flying Colors

Learning how to construct a proper lab report will not only secure you with a stellar grade in your science class, but it also will teach you how to report coherently your scientific findings to the world once you are in the field. Lab reports are an essential part of the scientific process and are constructed always after a scientific experiment or study. Therefore, learning the proper lab report format is integral to your overall success.

Below, we have detailed all the components of your lab report and have explained the elements that must be included in your rough draft. If you adhere to our guidelines, you will have all the pertinent information you need to get yourself that A on your lab report.

How to Draft Your Lab Report

This goes without saying, but you need to have a thorough grasp of the material that you are studying before you can write your report. If there are elements you are unsure about and that need clarification, make certain you get that missing information before you write your report.

Your lab report needs to show that you have a complete understanding of the experiment or study you are covering, but it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of all the information you have covered in your experiment. To keep yourself organized, make a rough draft of your report with the following points in mind.

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Questions You Need to Answer before Starting Your Report

To make things easier for yourself, you need a clear outline that provides answers to specific questions the report will be answering. Jot down the answers to the following questions before writing your lab report to help you cohesively tie together all the information in your experiment:

  • What do you hope to learn from the experiment?
  • What is the hypothesis you are testing?
  • What will be done in the experiment?
  • Why is this method the best way to test your hypothesis?
  • Why would the scientific community (or classroom) benefit from the knowledge presented in the experiment?

Answering these questions will put you in an excellent position to draft an impressive lab report and give you a thorough understanding of the material at hand.

Double Check Your Data with Your Lab Partners

Human error is likely to happen from time to time, and nothing is more important in your lab report than the accuracy of your data. To ensure you and your lab partners are on the same page and that you all have the correct data, get together after you have completed your experiment to double check your findings. It is much better for you to catch this mistake now than for your professor to catch it while grading your report and deduct points for the error.

Know How to Use APA Format

Before you begin your lab report, it is important that you know the basics. APA format is the most widely used format for lab reports and has specific guidelines that you need to follow. Make sure that your paper is formatted properly so that you get the highest grade possible. Nothing is worse than writing an amazing report only to have your professor deduct points for improper formatting.

The following should be consistent throughout your entire report to reflect proper APA formatting:

  • Paper is double-spaced
  • Margins are one inch all around
  • Font is 12 point Times New Roman
  • Manuscript page header with page number appears in the upper right-hand corner of every page

Write with Your Audience in Mind

Finally, before you write your lab report, make sure you know the audience to whom you are addressing. Write the report as if you are explaining it to a clueless student to ensure that you are thorough and accurate in your reporting. Addressing your report solely to your professor may cause you to gloss over simpler concepts or ideas, and this may result in a lower grade.

Proper Lab Report Format

Now that you are ready to write your report, it is important to know the proper lab report format you will be required to follow. All lab reports follow the same basic formula and comprise five sections: the title page, introduction, methods and procedure, results and discussion. These elements need to be included in your final lab report to explain thoroughly the results and findings of your scientific experiment or study.

Not only will this lab report format help to get you a good grade in class, but it also will get you accustomed to the professional standard that will be expected of you once you are in the field. Below, you will find detailed descriptions of each section, as well as the main points you need to cover in each section.

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Section One: Title Page

First things first. Proper lab report format calls for a title page that describes in 10 words or less what your scientific experiment is proving. Titles should start with an action word and vividly describe the premise of the experiment. A successful title will describe succinctly the main idea behind your experiment or study and entice the reader to learn more about your research. The title page also should include your name and your lab partner’s name, your instructor’s name, and the date on which the report was submitted.

Section Two: Introduction

Proper lab report format always will include a thorough introduction of about 150-200 words that includes four basic elements: the purpose of the experiment, the tested hypothesis, a reasonable justification of your hypothesis and a stated connection between the experiment and relevant background research/information.

An easy way to structure your introduction would be to start by first stating your purpose. From there, it is easy to segway seamlessly from your purpose to the relevant background information (often taken from class learnings or lectures) supporting your purpose. This will lead you to the conclusion of your introduction. Here, you will state your hypothesis and reasonable justification of that hypothesis in the final sentences.

This wording method for your introduction is common, but unnecessary. Feel free to experiment with different sentence structures that better suit your particular subject matter, if applicable.

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Section Three: Methods and Procedure

The goal of this particular section is to describe in succinct detail how you tested your hypothesis as well as to provide a reasonable justification and rationale for your chosen procedure. Remember that the goal of scientific research is for it to be reproducible; therefore, other researchers should be able to follow your procedure so they can verify your findings through the same or similar collections of data. For this reason, aclearly defined method and procedure are of the utmost importance to creating a successful lab report.

To begin this section, it is best to list all the materials you used in your method and procedure, as well as to define explicitly the control variable in the experiment. The best way to structure this section is to keep it simple and just follow the chronological narrative that occurred as you were conducting your experiment. Be detailed and always explain the rationale behind what you are doing to show an expert understanding of the material.

Make sure that you are being specific and detailed about how you got your results. Explain thoroughly what you are doing and why you are doing it. Also, be sure to explain what you plan to do with your findings. Quantify all measurements such as time, temperature, volume, mass, etcetera to maintain accuracy throughout this section. You may briefly mention how you quantified and recorded your results and data, but be careful not to jump too far ahead and describe the results in too much detail.

You may want to considering separating the material into subheadings corresponding to each individual component in this section if you had a particularly long or involved experiment to ensure clarity for the reader. However, this is not a standard lab report format and it should only be used if you have a long list of materials to document or if your procedure was convoluted.

It also is important to remember to use proper grammar in this section to avoid any confusion. A common mistake is to use the present tense for describing your experimental procedures because you are writing it in the present tense. However, you must use past tense to described the experiment that occurred in the past to avoid any uncertainty.

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Section Four: Results

The results section is the backbone of your lab report; all other sections of the report depend entirely upon the existence of this section. This is perhaps the most self-explanatory section included in your lab report and may even be your shortest. The goal of this section is to document and highlight all the data that is significant to your hypothesis. You do not need to list every piece of data you have collected because not all the data will be relevant.

All you need to focus on here is to report the data that either proves or disproves your hypothesis in the form of three distinct parts: text, tables and figures. All results sections will start with a brief text description that clearly states the facts of the data. However, be sure not to add so much text that it becomes analytical; you can save that for the next section. In your brief text descriptions, you will want to point out what your data shows in your tables and figures. You may also want to acknowledge and state trends that arise in your data.

Next, you will want to include your tables that show the trends in your data. As a general rule, you will only want to use tables if you have any variation in your data. If you have relatively unchanging variables, a table will not be the effective medium to display your data. You also will want to be sure to give your table a relevant name and have the reader see the data vertically rather than horizontally.

Finally, you will conclude your results section by showing your readers a figure that demonstrates what happened to your independent and dependent variables as you carried out your experiment. Depending upon the subject matter, you can include pie charts, bar graphs, flow charts, maps or photographs in this section. Do note, however, that proper lab report format for undergraduates and industry professionals will be a line graph.

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Section Five: Discussion

Finally, to conclude your lab report you will need to detail your findings and determine whether your hypothesis was supported by your experiment. There are five goals that need to be accomplished with this section, which include:

  • Explaining whether the data proved your hypothesis
  • Mentioning and interpreting any data that deviated from what you expected
  • Detailing reasonable conclusions about the subject matter that you studied
  • If applicable, relating your research to earlier work in the same field
  • Discussing the practical and theoretical implications of your findings

Most discussion sections will begin with explaining how your data either supported or denied your hypothesis. From there, you will need to make explicit statements that explain how your experiment either supported or denied your hypothesis. Your lab report should be able to support a reasonable and justifiable claim based upon the results of your experiments, so be sure that you are very clear and concise in your wording here.

It is important to note that this section will have the most variability from a standard lab report format. It should be tailored to your specific subject matter and subsequent results as long as it meets the above requirements and goals.

Putting It All Together

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Writing out a lab report can be the most difficult part of any experiment, but now that you know the proper steps and format you will be able to earn that A+ you deserve. Due remember to always follow the proper lab report format that we outlined above and you will be passing all of your science classes with flying colors.

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How To Become A Marine Biologist: Your Path To A Career Among The Waves

Maybe you grew up wading knee-deep in streams catching crawfish and you want your children to have the opportunity to do the same. Or, you have been dreaming of touching the ocean for the first time and hoping to spot a dolphin. Either way, you may also be wondering how to become a marine biologist.

How to Become a Marine Biologist

It seems you are well on your way to figuring out how to become a marine biologist. The first step is to simply get excited about all the little, or big, creatures that live in the water near you. Taking an interest in your own local water creatures will help you strengthen the skills needed to become a marine biologist.

After you have played with the tadpoles and waded in tidepools, it is time to start thinking of schooling. While classes can be slightly specialized in high school, consider choosing a college with a renowned biology degree that is near a body of water you are particularly interested in. With this, make sure to volunteer with local efforts to keep waterways clean and visit a few aquariums to expand your breadth of knowledge.

So, after persuing your undergraduate degree in marine biology, look for internships that will get you hands-on experience working in the field. These can range from doing research on ocean vessels to working at your local aquarium or river shed. This will get you the much-needed experience for starting your career or a great base for grad school.

What Does a Marine Biologist Do?

If you are wondering how to become a marine biologist, you probably know many things that they do. While training dolphins and working with whales are some of their most known duties, jobs with those aspects are few and far between. Marine biologists actually can be considered anyone who works or studies anything that is alive and lives in water.

Marine biologists actually deal quite a bit with things outside of fish, plankton, and sharks. They need to understand the chemistry of the water, the oceanography of their body of water, and the environmental impact of humans and other animals in the same space.

As you can see, marine biologists need to be well versed in all of the sciences in order to succeed. Keep that in mind as you are considering how to become a marine biologist.

So You Want to Be a Marine Biologist

We’ve got you hooked on being a marine biologist now. That’s good! Keep in mind that this means you could be collecting samples for a government study, managing a fishery, or even teaching classes at a local university.

If you are hoping to begin getting connected with organizations and other marine biologists, consider the following organizations. It is never too early to start networking for future projects, jobs, or studies.

The Association for Zoos and Aquariums is a wonderful organization for finding internships where you will get exposure to a plethora of types of land and water animals. This can be a great starting point for you.

If you are more interested in fish and rivers, consider the American Fisheries Society. They have annual papers and conferences that can help you stay on the cutting edge of marine biology.

Lastly, the Society of Marine Mammology is ready to press on into the future of marine biology. With a focus on aquatic animals and conservation, this is an exceptional organization to watch and learn from as you consider how to become a marine biologist.

Focus Your High School Studies

Each step of your journey towards becoming a marine biologist needs to keep the end in mind. Your future employer will be looking at your college degree, internships, and extracurriculars. But, your college or university program will be looking at your high school grades and the clubs you participated in.

So, you can see how each step of the process influences the next step. With this, you will need to focus your high school classes as much as you can. This means focusing on chemistry. biology, geology, and mathematics.

However, the more important element to focus on is your club involvement and volunteering. This will show your consistent dedication and interest in rivers, oceans, conservation, animals, fish, and other wildlife. This, in turn, will preempt your education with hands-on experience and a network to support you as you head of to college.

Take advantage of opportunities nearby

There are vast opportunities to pique your interest in marine biology. In your local town, there are probably a few organizations that are cleaning up local waterways as well as keeping tabs on the health of local wildlife. Consider joining in the efforts there.

If you have your eyes on a further prize, think about joining an ocean clean up volunteer squad. This could take you anywhere from simple beach clean-ups to helping divers clean up reef or local shores. With that, if you have the opportunity to become a certified diver, that is an excellent step to showing your interest in becoming a marine biologist.

Choosing a University

There are more universities than you can count these days. As you are figuring out how to become a marine biologist, this may seem like a daunting task. However, we will walk through a few ways to help you narrow down your list.

First off, be realistic with your grades, SAT scores, ACT scores, and desires. Pick schools that will accept your scores and grades. If you would like, apply to one school that will be a stretch. If you get it, then you will be ecstatic.

Next, look at the ratings of the biology and marine biology departments at these schools. Are the professors doing studies and writing books that you are interested in? Also, what types of hands-on learning and programs do they have?

You cannot dismiss cost as a limiter when applying for college these days. College debt will be incredibly difficult to work through later down the line, so minimize as much as you can now. This may mean going to an in-state school or attending community college for two years before transferring to a four-year university.

Location, location, location is our last tip for you. If you are hoping to work in the ocean one day, make sure your university is on the beach! If there is a particular aquarium or river you are hoping to see, look for schools near there first. This is all part of you making your own road map to success in becoming a marine biologist.

How to become a marine biologist: The right classes

Majoring in biology or marine biology will definitely help you attain your career goals. However, you do not necessarily have to major in one of these to succeed. Other sciences or math classes and degrees will give you a unique background that can help you stand out as a potential job applicant.

Consider taking classes in molecular biology, oceanography, plant ecology, or other classes that could support your future marine biology adventures. Having more experience in other areas will help you gain report with other professionals in the field, as well as give you a well-rounded education.

Internships: All About This Next Step

Internships are a crucial part of figuring out how to become a marine biologist. They allow you to work closely with marine biologists, gain experience, and decipher a bit more about what type of work you would like your career to focus on.

During the school year and the summer in between is the time to pad your resume with your biology experience. Consider some ocean specific internships where you can do hands-on research in the field. There is also a multitude of labs associated with schools that you can work at.

With this, diversity is respected in a resume. So, consider going to a different school for the summer internship than the one you attend. While it will be a little more work to figure out the logistics of it, it will be worth it to gain a more diverse experience.

Do I Need to Go to Graduate School?

Graduate school is a focused education that usually costs quite a pretty penny. However, many jobs in the field will require you to do this. A master’s degree will give you the chance to hone in your expertise on a specific subject.

With this in mind, you will want to know what to specialize in before you commit the time and money to a graduate degree. If you are still figuring out how to become a marine biologist, consider postponing graduate school until you have worked in the field for a few years.

This allows you to know what you want to study more specifically. It also opens up the potential for an employer to help sponsor your schooling. If you make it through a master’s degree and have thrived during it, consider a PhD.

A PhD requires just a few more classes than a master. However, the big difference is writing and defending a dissertation. But, remember that you will most likely be doing many research projects as a marine biologist, which lends itself well to a dissertation.

Choosing your masters and PhD

So, you are considering adding a master’s degree as you figure out how to become a marine biologist. There are many schools offering masters in this field. It is no surprise that Florida and California are the two main hubs for these degrees throughout the country.

Master’s degrees vary in their concentration. You can study Fishery and Ocean Science, Oceanography, or Conservation Biology. If those do not pique your interest, there is also Zoology, Tropical Conservation Biology, Estuary Science, Vertebrate Biology, or even Aquatic Resources.

Each of these programs will equip you differently for your career. Similar to applying to a four-year university, consider the professors, papers, and work that is put out of the institution. This will help you decide if you would like to join and learn from them.

Landing the Job as a Marine Biologist

Getting your first job can be thrilling but also intimating and difficult. You need the right balance of experience, references, and networks to do this. So, how do you become a marine biologist in today’s world?

First off, your resume is a representation of you. It needs to be polished, well written, and stand out. If you have a mentor in the field or even a good friend, have them look at your resume for spelling errors and wording choice.

You will want to use industry-specific words and quantitative data to show your skills. If you have done research, make sure to write how much you did, how you took samples, and more like that. While you do not want your resume to be overwhelming, do try and show your full arc of interest in marine biology.

Your cover letter should be specific to the job you are applying for as well. If you know someone at the company, ask them if you can elegantly reference them in your cover letter. This will go a long way in landing a job as a marine biologist.

Finally, nailing the interview is your last step in figuring out how to become a marine biologist. The most important part of the interview is to be yourself while staying assertive and informed. Make sure to do research on the institution you are speaking with beforehand.

Write down a few questions you would like to ask them before you go so that you are ready to see if it would be a good work environment for you. Hopefully, with each of these steps, you will be able to succeed in securing your first job. Then, you will truly be a marine biologist.

Setting your expectations: Salary and more

During the interview process, you may be asked what salary or benefits you would like. If possible, you always want your potential employer to be the first to give a number of a salary. This way, you can negotiate up from there.

So, how much does a marine biologist make? While it does vary greatly from state to state and based on experience, you can expect to start between 45,000 and 70,000 dollars, depending on the local economy and cost of living.

Most marine biologists should be able to do nine to five hours, but depending on the work you may need to vary those. If you are collecting samples, you may have some long days out on a boat or have to collect at odd hours. In addition, there may be other opportunities for travel to unique destinations and annual conferences.

With all of this, it is important to remember there will be plenty of work inside at the computer and lab as well. Most marine biologists will spend quite a bit of time running data and writing reports. So, do not expect to be outside all day, every day if you become a marine biologist.

Now You Know How to Become a Marine Biologist

You now know the path. Enjoy the ride. Remember, start by focusing on your local water sources, organizations, and volunteer efforts.

This will first conjure up a love for all things wet and watery. A passion for the outdoors and wildlife is essential to being a marine biologist. Once you have that, then get your education lined up.

Whether your dream is to help save the whales, protect our oceans, track salmon populations, or find cures for diseases in the natural world, marine biology is full of opportunities. The vast amount of water in our world means that there will always be a good amount of jobs in this field.

Are you a marine biologist, or considering pursuing this as your career? What were the most helpful tips that people gave you? We would love to start that conversation below in the comments.

So, now that you know how to become a marine biologist, we wish you the best. Pursue it with passion, vigor, and intelligence and you are sure to succeed.

Ten Famous Biologists Who Changed Their Field of Study Forever

Biology is one of the most interesting and diverse fields of science, and there have been many famous biologists. Biology is a natural science that focuses its study on life and living organisms, and biologists often specialize in a specific aspect of life, such as studying a particular organism or aspect of life such as hereditary or evolution.

There have been many luminaries in the biological sciences who have advanced our knowledge of the natural world and our place in it. It’s difficult to produce a list of the top 10 most famous biologists, but each person on the following made significant contributions to their field that are still being felt to this day.

Our List of 10 Famous Biologists

  • Aristotle
  • Rachel Carson
  • Gregor Mendel
  • Andreas Vesalius
  • Charles Darwin
  • Louis Pasteur
  • Antonie van Leeuwenhoek
  • Alexander von Humboldt
  • Carl Linnaeus
  • Joseph Lister


Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher and is best known as the father of Western Philosophy along with his teacher Plato, and as one of the earliest famous biologists of recorded history. His influence on the physical sciences is almost as great as his influence on philosophy and he pioneered the study of biology from a systematic perspective. He spent two years observing and writing about the zoology of the island of Lesbos and its surrounding seas.

Among his observations, Aristotle described the sea life captured by the islands fishermen including electric rays, frogfish and catfish. When it came to cephalopods, such as the paper nautilus and the octopus, he was the first to describe the use if the hectocotyli arm in sexual reproduction, a view that scientists discounted until the 19th century when it was observed again.

Aristotle noted that an animal’s structure matched its function. For example, he described how Herons, marsh-dwelling birds, have long necks and legs, perfect for walking and hunting in the mud, while ducks swim and have short legs with webbed feet. In his studies, he distinguished around 500 species of animals, arranging them in his History of Animals, and he called this system the ladder of life. The different classifications he placed animals in are the precursor of the scientific classification still used today that was created by another member of of our famous biologists list, Carl Linnaeus.

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson is a famous biologist, specifically a marine biologist, and author who was a pioneer of the Environmentalist movement. In the 1950s she began research on the ecology and organisms of North America’s Atlantic Shore. While performing this research, she observed that synthetic pesticides that were being widely used at the time to eradicate insects such as the Gypsy Moth were having negative effects on the environment.

Carson used her findings on the environmental damage caused by synthetic pesticides such as DDT for her most famous book, Silent Spring. She gathered examples of the damage caused by the use of DDT despite the fact that her research was opposed by many powerful organizations from chemical companies to the United States government’s own researchers.

In Silent Springs, Carson labeled pesticides as biocides as their effects were not limited to the invasive or harmful species they targeted, and they instead caused widespread damage to the other organisms in the ecosystem. When the book was released, it sparked interest in protecting the environment and led to the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970.

Gregor Mendel

Considered the father of genetics, Gregor Mendel was in Augustine Friar and scientist in the 19th century. He performed studies on the pea plant that included experiments that established many of the rules of heredity and gave future generations better understanding of crossbreeding in animals and plants, allowing them to favor certain desirable traits and places him on our list of famous biologists.

Known today as the laws of Mendelian Inheritance, he determined that some traits were dominant and others regressive. Take, for example, seed color. When Mendel crossbred a true-breeding yellow pea with a true-breeding green pea, the offspring produced yellow peas because the yellow pea trait was dominant. In the next generation, one out of four of the green pea producing plants produced yellow peas, because of the recessive gene.

The true significance of Mendel’s discovery wasn’t appreciated until well into the 20th century because it was so controversial during his lifetime, so it was largely ignored at the time. Once it was re-discovered, it became a cornerstone of the study of genetics and evolution. On a more practical side, it enabled the understanding of crossbreeding and led to the development of heartier and healthier lines of vegetables and fruit that we see in our supermarkets today.

Andreas Vesalius

Andreas Vesalius was a Flemish physician and anatomist. His study of the human body led to his influential book on human anatomy: On the Fabric of the Human Body. This book became so influential that Vesalius is considered the father of modern human anatomy, which landed him a spot on our list of 10 of the world’s most famous biologists.

Vesalius had a prestigious medical career, and he traveled throughout Italy with priests to help those afflicted with Hanson’s Disease, more commonly known as leprosy. At the time, most of the knowledge of human anatomy came from animal observations as religious laws forbid the study and dissection of human corpses. However, Vesalius performed public dissections, notably on the body of a notorious criminal named Jacob Karrer von Gebweiler following his execution. Vesalius assembled the bones of the skeleton and it is still preserved and on display in the University of Basel.

As with many people on this list of famous biologists, his impact wasn’t fully known at the time of his death. His findings bucked the traditional views of anatomy that had existed for centuries and those views persisted during his lifetime and afterward. Centuries later, when the study of anatomy became more established and easier to perform, his views, based on his own experimentation and observation became the foundation for modern anatomy.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin, one of the most famous biologists to hail from Britain, is known as the father of evolution for his 1859 book On the Origin of Species. Darwin performed the research for this book while working as a naturalist on the HMS Beagle on its round the world voyage from 1831 to 1836. Most of Darwin’s observations on the journey were surveying and charting the coastlines, but it was at the Galapagos Islands where he made his biggest contribution to biology and solidifying his place among the world’s most famous biologists.

The Galapagos Islands are a small chain of islands off the coast of South America, and when the HMS Beagle arrived, Darwin noticed that several similar species had different characteristics depending on which island they lived on. He’s known for his work observing 15 different species of finches, small birds that had different sized and shaped beaks that evolved to fit their environment. This helped Darwin come up with his theory of natural selection.

Natural selection is the cornerstone of modern biology, and Darwin postulated that random mutations arise in the genome of individual organisms. The offspring of these organisms inherit these and when these traits enable the offspring to better survive and pass on its genes the mutated organism survives and differentiates itself from the original. However, Darwin’s theory of evolution is still controversial to this day among certain religious groups, but the scientific community generally accepted it during his lifetime.

Louis Pasteur

The French biologist and chemist Louis Pasteur is best known for his breakthrough discovering the causes of diseases and preventing their spread. Besides that, he invented pasteurization, the technique for treating milk and other liquids to prevent bacterial contamination. He is known as a father of microbiology, and because of the prevalence of pasteurization in today’s world, of all the famous biologists on the list, Pasteur is one of the most impactful scientists of the modern era.

While germ theory is an accepted part of modern science, in Pasteur’s time, it was believed that diseases came from a miasma, or bad air, and spontaneous generation. While other scientists had theorized about germs prior to Pasteur, his revolutionary work showed the first proof that many diseases resulted from bacteria or viruses and not spontaneous generation.

Pasteur showed this by doing fermentation experiments. The skin of grapes contains natural yeasts that enable the grape juice to be turned into wine, so Pasteur sterilized grapes and grape juice and showed that it would not ferment because of the lack of yeasts. Many of these experiments used heat to sterilize the grape juice, and this became the basis of pasteurization. Because of pasteurization, the shelf life of many foods has been greatly extended. This has vastly improved the safety of the food supply and cut down on the spread of many diseases, saving thousands of lives in the process.

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

A Dutch scientist and businessman, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek lived during the Golden age of Dutch science and technology. He is known as the father of microbiology for his pioneering microscopes and discovery of microbes, even though he was a self-taught scientist. While working in a drapery shop, van Leeuwenhoek became interested in the possibility of using magnifying glasses to better judge the quality of the threads in his drapes. This led to an interest in developing his own microscope. By the time his death, he had created at least 25 single lens microscopes.

The discovery of microbes came with his examination of pond water with one of his microscopes. He discovered the large amounts of tiny organisms that inhabit even a drop of water. He referred to these as Animalculum, or tiny animals, in Latin. With further experiments, he became the first person to observe and document the microscopic view of bacteria, crystals, red blood cells, muscle fibers, and more.

As opposed to most scientists in their discoveries, he did not publish his own papers. The information known about his work came from letters he sent to the Royal Society in London. This gave him fame, and since he used his own designs for microscopes, he had a veritable monopoly on microbiology during his lifetime. Ever the businessman, he worried that if others understood the ease in which he made his microscopes, they would forget about his discovery, but today, microscopes are ubiquitous to the scientific community.

Alexander von Humboldt

Alexander von Humboldt was a German explorer and naturalist who laid the foundation for the field of biogeography, the study of how species in ecosystems are distributed worldwide and through time. Through his studies, he became the first person to describe the effects of human-induced climate change. His background in biogeography came from his desire to find a unified theory of nature that combined biology, geology, and meteorology.

Building upon this work, scientists have been able to trace the movement of different species and use that information to learn much more about our world. An example of this is continental drift. The earth’s surface is made up of several tectonic plates, and many theorized that the continents had, in the distant past, been one giant continent known as Pangaea. The study of biogeography has shown the distribution of fossil records of the same species in far-flung continents to support this theory.

Another important contribution to biology and to science that came from Alexander von Humboldt’s work is the 19th-century movement called Humboldtian science. Using Humboldt’s methods and following his general ethics for scientific exploration, several of the most important 19th-century scientific luminaries including Charles Darwin, Sir Edward Sabine, and Charles Lyell made huge leaps in human knowledge. Because of this, almost all scientific discovery after Humboldt is due in part to his influence, and he earned a place on our list of famous biologists

Carl Linnaeus

A botanist and zoologist from Sweden, Carl Linnaeus developed the system for naming and organizing living organisms that we still use today. Because of this and his other scientific discoveries, he is known as the father of modern taxonomy and the father of modern ecology. It was not until Linnaeus developed his taxonomy that there was a universally accepted way to classify living organisms. Linnaean taxonomy classifies animals and plants into kingdoms, classes, orders, genus and finally species, which shows how different organisms are related to one another.

These concepts allowed later scientists to build upon Linnaeus’s work and look at the taxonomy of evolution. Later scientists had modified and added to Linnaeus’s classifications to include new kingdoms of organisms such as fungi, Monera, and protozoa. Even today, when new species are discovered, Linnaean taxonomy is used to classify them.

Linnaean taxonomy has also been applied to the evolution of human beings. Linnaeus classified humans under primates in his first version of his taxonomy. This was controversial at the time because of the belief that human beings were separate from the animal kingdom, but it led to other scientific discoveries of the origin of the human species.

Joseph Lister

Joseph Lister was a British surgeon who was a pioneer of antiseptic surgery. Prior to the acceptance of germ theory, many physicians did not know the link between microorganisms and disease. Because of this, there was little attempt to clean their hands or instruments before they performed surgery. This resulted in many infections after surgeries that led to the death of many patients. Lister introduced the use of carbolic acid for the cleaning of wounds and the sterilization of surgical instruments, which led to a reduction in post-operative infections and earned Lister the moniker of the father of modern surgery.

Prior to Lister’s discoveries, most surgeries were performed under very unsanitary conditions. Surgeons would often leave their operating gowns unwashed, displaying the stains as a display of experience. Hospitals didn’t even have facilities for washing hands or patients wounds before Lister’s insistence that it would make a difference in the number of patients who contract a deadly infection.

Lister developed his antiseptic carbolic acid solution by testing Pasteur’s findings. He performed human testing on a seven-year-old boy who suffered a compound fracture from a cart accident. By covering the boy’s wounds with lint dipped in his carbolic acid solution, the boy remained infection free. From his research, he instructed surgeons to wear clean gloves and wash their hands before and after each surgery.


Looking over our list of 10 of the most famous biologists, we hope you can see the great advancements to science these people brought about. The interconnection between their work is another aspect that should be apparent as all great scientists build on the work of great scientists who came before them. None of the people on this list of famous biologists could have made the discoveries and theories they are most famous for without the work of others, so keep that in mind as you look to a potential career in biology. Remember the great minds of the past and use their work to work on the next big discovery!