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Missouri History in Science and Technology: Notables- Last Name H-R

Photo gallery

Edwin Hubble
Photo: New York Times Co./Getty Images

Dorothy Van Dyke Leake, circa 1920.
Photo: State Historical Society of Missouri

Curtis Fletcher Marbut

Dr. William Beaumont

Gerty Theresa Radnitz Cori

Stephen Chu, Nobel Prize winner and former U.S. Secretary of Energy

James Buchanan Eads, the "Napoleon of Engineers"

Andrew Taylor (A.T.) Still, founder of osteopathic medicine

MU Professor George P. Smith, Nobel Prize co-winner for Chemistry, 2018

Edwin Hubble (1889-1953)

Edwin Hubble has been considered one of the greatest astronomers since Galileo and Johannes Kepler. He published major works which changed our understanding of our universe, including the first classification of galaxies in 1926. Around that same time, he confirmed that spiral nebulas are actually galaxies. He also did work that demonstrated that the universe was expanding and not static, as previously believed.

Hubble was born in 1889 in Marshfield, MO.  He attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and after serving in World War I, joined the Mount Wilson Observatory (CA) where he worked until his death.  In 1990, NASA recognized his many contributions to the field by naming their new space telescope after him.  Coincidentally, Hubble was also on the same commemorative stamp pane as Washington University's Gerty Cori.

Dorothy Van Dyke Leake (1893-1990)

Dorothy Van Dyke Leake was a environmental activist, naturalist and illustrator. She born in Iowa in 1893.  Her family move to Oklahoma, where she spent her teenage years. She went to Drury College, where she received both her bachelor's and master's degrees in biology. After teaching for several years, she married fellow Drury classmate Henderson Leake in 1919. They moved onto a 131-acre property purchased by Dorothy's father in Stone County (MO), and started a family. The land also served as the source of Crane Creek, a 23-mile long tributary of the James River.

Dorothy returned to academic life, earning her Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma in 1944. She began teaching again, working at several institutions including Phillips University, Central Missouri State Teachers College (now University of Central Missouri). In 1959 she retired from Southeastern State Teachers College in Durant, OK, after serving as the head of the biology department for 10 years. During her career, she had published several articles on algae, which was her specialty. 

In retirement, Dorothy worked to preserve Crane Creek "at its ecological peak", turning their property into a teaching area for students.  She continued her interest in understanding the physiology of algae. She was also an accomplished illustrator (see The Handbook of Rocky Mountain Plants) whose work was exhibited internationally.

Drury awarded Dorothy Leake an honorary doctorate degree in recognition of her work. She was also made an honorary life member of the Oklahoma Academy of Science in 1961. Her last book, Desert and Mountain Plants of the Southwest, was published in 1993 after her death. It featured Leake's artwork and text written by her two children. 

Curtis Fletcher Marbut (1863-1935)

Curtis Fletcher Marbut was a geologist and an authority on soil composition.  He introduced the first soil classification system in the United States.

Marbut grew up in Barry County (MO), working on his parent's farm as a child. He earned a B.S. degree from the University of Missouri and an M.A. from Harvard.  He was teaching at MU from 1895-1910, when he was appointed chief of the Soil Survey for U.S. Department of Agriculture.  In 1927 he published an English translation of Konstantin Glinka's The Great Soil Groups of the World and their Development.

Throughout his career, Marbut worked with international researchers to develop soil classification systems. Sadly, Marbut was traveling to assist scientists in China when he contracted pneumonia; he died August 25, 1835.

In 1930, the American Geographical Society awarded Marbut the Cullum Medal “for services of a special distinction in the field of exploration and geographic research".  He was inducted into the National Agriculture Hall of Fame (Bonner Springs, KS) in 1989.