John Lawrence Le Conte was one of the great nineteenth-century students of the natural world, the entomological equivalent of John James Audubon and Asa Gray. Focusing largely on the order Coleoptera (beetles), Le Conte described several thousand species of insects and published several volumes on their classification. Le Conte earned a medical degree, but outside of service as a surgeon in the Civil War, he never used it. He was independently wealthy and traveled widely through North America and Europe collecting samples. He was a charter member of the National Academy of Sciences.