He was taught his first few years of education in his home, then moved to Lausanne for elementary school. He soon became interested in the medical field and studied as a physician at Zurich, Heidelberg, and Munich. While at Munich he studied about natural history and botany. He received a Doctorate of Philosphy degree in 1829 at Erlangen, and a Doctorate of Medicine in 1830 at Munich.
Later, studying in Paris, Agassiz took courses under Alexander von Humboldt (geology) and Georges Cuvier (zoology). Agassiz soon became devoted to ichthyology, which remained his lifelong passion (but ironically, not what he is best remembered for today).
Cuvier was so impressed with Agassiz’s work on fossilized fish that he passed down his own research to the student. Upon Cuvier's death in 1832, Agassiz wanted to uphold his mentor's legacy. He went on to publish several works, such as: the five-volume Recherches sur les poissons fossiles ("Research on Fossil Fishes"), and History of the Freshwater Fishes of Central Europe. The British Association, noting Agassiz' devotion to science, supplied him with more efficient help.
Agassiz became intrigued by the notion of an Ice Age. He explored the Alps with Jean de Charpentier, and studied the glacial movements. He found that there was evidence of ancient glaciers in Switzerland. He concluded that the Earth once was engulfed in an Ice Age, and was the first to propose the theory scientifically. He later relocated to the Americas so he could study the land, and better educate the people on the study of zoology. While in America He became better known and he published many books on the subject of glaciers. He was later called the “ Father of Glaciology”.
Agassiz was devoted to his work and wanted people to learn more about natural history and geology. One of the last things he did was build a school that would teach natural history and zoology. The school was built in Cambridge, Massachusetts. However recently after his death, in 1873, the school burned and was later rebuilt nearby.
Louis Agassiz was an opponent of Darwinism, and believed that new species could arise only through the intervention of God. He also had taught his students that he could see the mind of God at work in Nature as much as in the Bible. He did not believe in theories that did not raise the idea of a designer. Agassiz tried to recreate Darwin's trip to the Galapagos Islands so he could experience Darwin's discovery. When making it to the Galapagos, his beliefs were shaken because of the strong evidence of evolution. However even with that fact he still held strong to the idea of a designer. Agassiz said, It is the job of prophets and scientists alike to proclaim the glories of God.
He wrote in his Essay on Classification:
|“||"The combination in time and space of all these thoughtful conceptions exhibits not only thought, it shows also premeditation, power, wisdom, greatness, prescience, omniscience, providence. In one word, all these facts in their natural connection proclaim aloud the One God, whom man may know, adore, and love; and Natural History must in good time become the analysis of the thoughts of the Creator of the Universe..."||”|
Agassiz spent the last years of his life defending creation.
- Recherches sur les poissons fossiles (1833-1843)
- History of the Freshwater Fishes of Central Europe (1839-1842)
- Etudes sur les glaciers (1840)
- Etudes critiques sur les mollusques fossiles (1840-1845)
- Nomenclator Zoologicus (1842-1846)
- Monographie des poissons fossiles du Vieux Gres Rouge, ou Systeme Devonien (Old Red Sandstone) des Iles Britanniques et de Russie (1844-1845)
- Bibliographia Zoologiae et Geologiae (1848)
- (with Augustus Addison Gould) Principles of Zoology for the use of Schools and Colleges (Boston, 1848)
- Lake Superior: Its Physical Character, Vegetation and Animals, compared with those of other and similar regions (Boston: Gould, Kendall and Lincoln, 1850)
- Natural History of the United States (Boston: Little, Brown, 1847-1862)
- Geological Sketches ((Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1866)
- A Journey in Brazil (1868)
- De l' espèce et de la classification en zoologie [Essay on classification] (Trans. Felix Vogeli. Paris: Bailière, 1869)
- Geological Sketches (Second Series) (Boston: J.R. Osgood, 1876)
- Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) University of California, Berkeley Museum of Paleontology
- Scientists and belief in God Meridian Magazine
- Louis Agassiz Symposium on Creation
- Life of Louis Agassiz Charles D. Howell Ph.D.