Asa Gray was a pioneering figure in plant science, one of the most significant botanists of the nineteenth century. His 1848 work, A Manual of the Botany of the Northern United States, became an extremely influential text among both scientists and general readers and has been reprinted numerous times. His text entitled The Vegetation of the Rocky Mountain Region and a Comparison with that of Other Parts of the World, jointly published with Joseph Dalton Hooker, described thousands of botanical specimens collected and identified on their trips to the American West. The text significantly advanced contemporary understanding of botany. Gray graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Fairfield, New York, in 1826 and earned his medical doctorate in 1831. After a period at Michigan, in 1842 he began teaching at Harvard University, where he was responsible for the establishment of Harvard’s Department of Botany. Gray was a founding member of the National Academy of Sciences.