From Today in Science History:
Donald Culross Peattie (Born 21 Jun 1898; died 16 Nov 1964). American botanist, naturalist and author who won high critical acclaim for his several books on plant life and nature. After college, he joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a botanist in the office of foreign seed and plant introduction. From 1922-3 he worked on frost resistance in tropical plants. In 1926, he left the USDA to free-lance in his own field, writing books and also began a nature column in the Washington Star which ran for 10 years. An example of his writing for lay people, his book Flowering Earth (1939, reprinted 1991) reveals the miracle of plant life. Needing no chemical formulas or botanical glossary, it involves the reader in the vital stories of chlorophyll and of protoplasm, of algae and seaweeds, conifers and cycads.
Sir Gavin de Beer (Died 21 Jun 1972; born 1 Nov 1899). Sir Gavin Rylands de Beer was an English zoologist and morphologist who contributed to experimental embryology, anatomy, and evolution. He refuted the germ-layer theory and developed the concept of paedomorphism (the retention of juvenile characteristics of ancestors in mature adults). From examination of the fossil Archaeopteryx, De Beer proposed mosaic evolution with piecemeal evolutionary changes to explain the combination of bird and reptile features. He was director of the British Museum’s Natural History section (1950-60). Applying knowledge of biology (plant pollen) and geology (glaciology) to his study of original documents, he proposed the route taken by Hannibal across the Alps for his attack on ancient Rome. [He also wrote much on Darwin]
Sir D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson (Died 21 Jun 1948; born 2 May 1860). Scottish zoologist and classical scholar noted for his influential work On Growth and Form (1917, new ed. 1942). It is a profound consideration of the shapes of living things, starting from the simple premise that “everything is the way it is because it got that way.” Hence one must study not only finished forms, but also the forces that moulded them: “the form of an object is a ‘diagram of forces’, in this sense, at least, that from it we can judge of or deduce the forces that are acting or have acted upon it.” One of his great themes is the tremendous light cast on living things by using mathematics to describe their shapes and fairly simple physics and chemistry to explain them.