Biologist William Keith Brooks studied embryological development in invertebrates and used his results as evidence for theories of evolution and ancestral heredity. He founded a marine biological laboratory where his and others' embryological studies took place. Later in life, Brooks became head of the Biology Department at Johns Hopkins University where he helped shape the minds of leading embryologists.

The goal of science education in the United States is promoting scientific literacy for all students. The goal necessitates understanding the nature of science-what science is as a body of knowledge, explanatory tool, and human enterprise. The history of science is one of the most long-standing pedagogical methods of getting at the nature of science. But scientific literacy also encompasses education in scientific inquiry, and in the relationships among science, technology, and society (STS), as well as fact and theory-based subject-matter content.

Franklin Paine Mall was born into a farming family in Belle Plaine, Iowa, on 28 September 1862. While he attended a local academy, an influential teacher fueled Mall's interest in science. From 1880-1883, he studied medicine at the University of Michigan, attaining his MD degree in 1883. William J. Mayo, who later became a famous surgeon and co-founder of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, was a classmate of Mall's. Throughout his studies at Michigan, he was influenced by Corydon L. Ford, a professor of anatomy, Victor C. Vaughn, a biochemist and bacteriologist, and Henry Sewall, a physiologist.

Embryos in Wax: Models from the Ziegler Studio is a history of embryo wax modeling written by science historian Nick Hopwood. Published by the Whipple Museum of the History of Science University of Cambridge and the Institute of the History of Medicine University of Bern, 2002, the book, like the wax models, helps exemplify the visual and material culture of science. The first half of the book describes the modeling work of Germany's Adolf and son Friedrich Ziegler during the rise of developmental embryology from 1850 to 1920, a time when embryology's practitioners needed educational aids that could help teach students in laboratories and lay persons in public lectures. Three-dimensional wax models provided just this visual aid.

Clifford Grobstein was a traditional, influential, and highly innovative biologist of the mid-twentieth century, gifted with many character facets and pragmatic talents. His early adulthood passion of linking classical embryology with developmental anatomy and medicine was joined by his later pursuit of combining research ethics and science education with public policy.

The Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, began in 1888 with one building housing researchers upstairs and students in a shared lab and lecture space downstairs. For the first two years, instruction took the form of general lectures covering a range of topics in zoology. In addition, the trustees offered some public lectures in Boston to raise funds for the lab.

Henry Havelock Ellis was born on 2 February 1859 at Croydon in Surrey, England, to Susannah Wheatley Ellis and Edward Peppen Ellis, a sea captain. A psychologist, essayist, and physician, he is best known for his contributions to the study of human sexuality and his support of sex education and women's rights. Ellis 's work catalyzed the revolution against repressive Victorian views of sexuality. He was practicing and writing during an era in which attitudes about sex were beginning to change thanks to the activism of several key players in the fight for sexual equality and controlled reproduction. The rise of the more liberal modern approach to human sexuality seen in the first half of the twentieth century is due largely to the efforts of Ellis and other reproductive rights champions like Margaret Sanger and Marie Stopes.

Florence Rena Sabin had successful careers as both a researcher and public health reformer. When Johns Hopkins University Medical School opened, accepting women and men on the same basis, Sabin was one of the first to enter. After the successful completion of her MD degree, Sabin went on to become the first female faculty member and later full-time professor at Johns Hopkins. From 1924-1925, she was the first woman elected president of the American Association of Anatomists, the first woman elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1925, and the first woman to become a full member of the Rockefeller Institute. Her research on the brain, the lymphatic system, and immunology was revolutionary, and her vast scientific knowledge and convincing personality greatly contributed to the passage of much needed public health reform legislation during her retirement years in Colorado.

The Carnegie Institution of Washington's (CIW) Embryology Department was opened in 1914 and remains one of six departments in the CIW. The department quickly became, and remains, world renowned for its many embryonic development discoveries. In 1913 Franklin P. Mall, Professor of Anatomy at Johns Hopkins Medical School, applied for a Carnegie grant to support his research with human embryos. Mall had a collection of over 800 human embryo specimens and was at the point of wanting to do more than just collect. He wanted to study normal and abnormal growth and so began categorizing embryos in a scientific fashion. It soon became apparent that Mall would need funding and a research venue. In 1914 Mall not only received a $15,000 grant from Carnegie, but was also made director of the new Department of Embryology at the CIW. With money, new facilities, a fireproof vault for embryo specimens, and Carnegie's name above the institution's door, Mall brought his extensive embryo collection with him and began obtaining hundreds more human embryos to study. Over the next fifty years, the Department of Embryology would collect and permanently store more than 10,000 embryos.

The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) was founded in 1888 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Woods Hole was already the site for the government 's US Fish Commission Laboratory directed by Spencer Fullerton Baird, and it seemed like the obvious place to add an independent research laboratory that would draw individual scientific investigators along with students and instructors for courses. From the beginning, the lab had the dual mission of teaching and research, and from the beginning leading biologists have found their way to this small village on the "heel" tip of Cape Cod.

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