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MacDougal, Daniel Trembly, 1865-1958



  • Existence: 1865 - 1958

Biographical Information

Daniel T. MacDougal was born in Liberty, Indiana in 1865. He attended DePauw University where he received his masters degree in 1894. He went on to receive a PhD from Purdue University in 1897, and he worked as an Assistant in the Biology Department. His Ph.D. was the first one granted by Purdue University. His thesis was entitled 'The Curvature of Roots.' He pursued post-doctoral studies in Leipzig and Tubingen. He was employed by the USDA to collect specimens in Idaho and Arizona during the summers of 1891 and 1892. He taught plant physiology at the University of Minnesota from 1893 until he left in 1899 to come to the New York Botanical Gardens. After seven years at the NYBG, he left to become Director of Botanical Research at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D. C. He remained at the Carnegie Institution until his retirement in 1933.

While at the NYBG, Dr. MacDougal served on a committee to establish a tropical research laboratory. This led to the establishment in 1905 of the Plant Desert Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona. He was appointed its first director and it would later become part of the Carnegie Institution. In 1907, he organized the Pinacate expedition to study the lava fields of Mexico with Godfrey Sykes and William T. Hornaday, who published a book on the expedition. In 1909, he established a coastal botanical lab in Carmel, California and became known as an expert on the Monterey pines. He teamed up with Godfrey Sykes once again in 1912 to cross the Libyan desert.

Dr. MacDougal received many honors in his lifetime and was a member of several scholarly organizations. Among these were the Hollandsche Maatschappe d. Welenschappen, Societe d'Acclimation de France, American Philosophical Society, Explorers Club, American Society of Plant Physiology and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was an honorary member of the California Academy of Sciences and the Botanical Society of Edinburgh. He was a life member of the Torrey Botanical Club and the Botanical Society of America, from which he received a merit award in 1956. He was the recipient of two honorary degrees, one in 1912 from DePauw and one in 1915 from the University of Arizona. In 1950 he was elected honorary president of the International Botanical Congress in Stockholm and was awarded the first Certificate of Distinguished Service from the NYBG in 1956.

He was recognized as the leading American authority on desert ecology and one of the earliest botanists to research chlorophyll. He is also known as the inventor of the MacDougal dendrograph, an instrument used for recording changes in the volume of tree trunks.

Daniel T. MacDougal died in 1958.


1892 Debris and The Story of Purdue Engineering, Knoll, H. B. (1963). West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Studies.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Daniel T. MacDougal papers

 Collection — Box: Communal Collections 29, Placement: 03
Identifier: MSF 236
Scope and Contents The collection consists of two folders containing articles and publications by Daniel MacDougal, including copies of the first thesis presented to the faculty of Purdue University for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1897.
Dates: 1897 - 1908