American paleontologist and author, Steven Jay Gould, was born in New York City in 1941. The son of a self-proclaimed “naturalist,” Gould’s father frequented the American Museum of Natural History. While accompanying his father on one of these excursions, Gould was astounded by a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, and knew at the age of five he would become a paleontologist.
Gould later studied geology at Antioch College before receiving his doctorate in paleontology at Columbia University. After completing his graduate work, Gould was immediately hired by Harvard University, where he remained for the rest of his life.
While at Harvard, Gould taught courses in geology and curated invertebrate paleontology exhibits at the institution’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. Gould also spent much time writing about issues of popular science in an attempt to make science more accessible and understandable to the non-professional and professional alike. Over the course of his career, he published numerous books and received numerous awards for his scientific contributions. Of his most popular, and perhaps most controversial, books is The Mismeasure of Man, in which he argued the misuse of intelligence testing in the United States.
After battling mesothelioma and unrelated lung cancer, Gould passed away in 2002. However, he will always be remembered for his contributions to the fields of evolutionary biology, geology, and paleontology, and for his influential writings on popular science.