James Dwight Dana
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James Dwight Dana

In terms of enduring scientific achievement, James Dwight Dana (b. 1813, d. 1895) is one of Yale’s most notable scientific figures. His contributions to geology, mineralogy and zoology are the basis of classification systems still in use today by scientists in these fields. Dana was educated at Yale, where he received scientific training from Benjamin Silliman, the prominent scientist and founder of The American Journal of Science.

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, Dana assumed the role of zoologist after the departure of James Couthouy in 1840. Dana produced 2 important monographs based on his study of animals collected by the 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 the legacy left by James Dana.