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Lourens Baas Becking

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Lourens Baas Becking (1895-1963) a Dutch plant physiologist, received his Ph. D. from Stanford in 1921. Two years later, in 1923, Baas Becking accepted the position of professor at Stanford, where he taught plant physiology. Then, in 1928, Becking was appointed to the position of Herzstein Professor of Biology and Director of the Jacques Loeb Laboratory at the Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, California. Unfortunately, his tenure at Hopkins was short lived as he ran into difficulties working with Walter K. Fisher, who was director of Hopkins Marine Station.

According to an article that appeared in Geochemical Perspectives in April 2022, Baas Becking’s interactions WK Fisher were in good standings at the beginning. Upon his return from the Netherlands in June 1928 however, he wrote: “For mysterious reasons or other reasons Fisher was most friendly and I believe that we arrived at a complete understanding”. In December 1929 however, he spoke of an “armed peace” with Fisher: “It remains a paltry feeling to have been allowed to design, develop and staff a large laboratory and then see the matter “managed” by a zoological taxonomist, an ignorant about physiology and worse, who is even annoyed by it.”1

Within the short time of Becking’s tenure, it appears Fisher had pushed him aside as Director of the Jacques Loeb Laboratory

In February 1930 he complained about “the total lack [at Stanford University] of common pursuit and the absence of a recognised academic standard makes the work of the committees I belong to a farce.” This remark was made a month after he had been asked by Professor Jacob Marinus Janse, to succeed him on the chair of botany at the University of Leiden. Baas Becking replied that it would be “a heavy sacrifice to break away from everything at Stanford.” Still, he showed his willingness to return to his homeland.2

C. B. van Niel provided further insight as to the Jacques Loeb Laboratory and the group of scientists Baas Becking had gathered in hopes of inspiring collaborative research.

When I began my association with the new Jacques Loeb Laboratory its staff was composed of a group of specialists: a general physiologist, a marine ecologist, a biophysicist, an organic chemist, a physical chemist, an analytical chemist, a geologist, and myself, a general microbiologist; there was only one graduate student who was almost immediately assigned to me. Becking had been responsible for assembling the greater part of this group and expected that all of us would collaborate on a comprehensive study of the geo-physico-chemical and biological features of the ocean and various kinds of salt lakes and their interrelations. It sounded like a grand program, but the collaboration did not work out well. From the beginning each of the specialists got involved with problems of his own, and this left little time for cooperative ventures.3

Shortly after Becking, having become frustrated with Stanford University, chose to return to Holland. A brief mention in the Stanford Daily announced his departure.

Monday November 10, 1930, The Stanford Daily announced: Resignation of Professor Laurence B. Becking as Herzstein Professor of Botany at Stanford, to accept the directorship of the Botanical Institute at the University of Leyden, Holland, and the chair of botany at that university, was announced Friday. Becking, who is a native of Holland, has been at Stanford since 1919, connected chiefly with the Jacques Loeb Laboratory of the Hopkins Marine Station.4


1. Geochemical Perspectives | Lourens G .M. Baas Becking. April 2022 Geochemical Perspectives 11(1):1-168)

2. Ibid.

3. The Education of A Microbiologist; Some Reflections By C. B. Van Niel. Annual Review of Microbiology

4. Becking Resigns Position: Accepts Post in Holland. The Stanford Daily Vol. 28. No. 29 Pg. 4. Monday November 10, 1930. 

Area: physiology

Years: 1920-1931


Becking, L.B. and E. Wayne Galliher 1931 Wall structure and mineralization in the coralline algae. Journ.Physical Chemistry. v.XXXV. pp.467-479

Becking, L.B. 1930 Observations on Dunaliella viridis, Teodoresco. Contrib, Mar. Biol. Stanford Univ. 5 figs in text pp.102-114

Becking, L.B., Henriette v.d.Sande Bakhuyzen and Harold Hotelling 1928 The physical state of protoplasm. Koninklijke akademic van Wetenschappen te Amsterdam

Becking, L.B. 1928 On organisms living in concentrated brine. Tijdschrift der Ned. dierkundige Vereeniging 3de Serie, Dell l.(Aflevering 1.) pp.6-9

Becking, L.B., C.F. Tolman, H.C. McMillin, John Field, and Tadaichi Hashimoto 1927 Preliminary statement regarding the diatom "epidemic" at Copalis beach, Washington, and an analysis of diatom oil. Biogenesis of hydrocarbons by diatoms. Economic Geology, v.XXII, no.4 and no.5

Becking, L.B. and G.S. Parks 1927 Energy relations in the metabolism of autotrophic bacteria. Physiological reviews. v.VII, no.1, January

Becking, L.B. 1927 Iron-organisms. Utrecht.

Becking, L.B. S.F. Tolman, H.C. McMillia, Fierld, & Tadaichi Hashimoto 1927 Prelimnary statement regarding the Diaton at Copalis Beach, Washington, and an analysis of Diatom oil. Econ.Geol.,22(4)

A preliminary study of Rhodobacillus palustris, Molisch. Plowe, JQ; Sapero, JJ; Moy, HB; et al. PROCEEDINGS OF THE SOCIETY FOR EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE Volume: 24 Pages: 73-75 Published: 1927

Becking, L.B. and Leland S. Baker 1926 Studies on growth. Stanford Univ. Pub. Biological Series. v.IV no.2

Studies on the sulphur bacteria, Becking, LGMB. ANNALS OF BOTANY Volume: 39 Issue: 155 Pages: 613-U13 Published: JUL 1925

Becking, L.B. and Joseph C. Chamberlain 1925 The refractive index of chitin. Proc.Soc.Exp.Biol. and Med. xxii, pp.256

Becking, L.B. 1925 The identity of the pigments in the purple bacteria. Proc.Soc.Exp.Biol. and Med. XXII, pp.523-527

Becking, L.B. 1924 The source of energy of the sulfur bacteria. Proc.Soc.Exp.Biol. and Med. XXII, pp.127-129

Becking, L.B. 1924 Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, Immortal dillettant (1632-1723). Scientific Monthly, v.XVIII, pp.547-554

Becking, L.B. and M.I. Gregersen. 1924 Effect of light on the permeability of lecithin. Soc.Exp.Biol. and Med. xxii. pp130-133

The University of Graz, Linsbauer, K.; Becking, L. B. SCIENCE Volume: 55 Issue: 1431 Pages: 595-596 Published: JUN 2 1922

Becking, L.B. 1921 Radiation and vital phenomena. Utrecht.

Measurement of the catalytic power of catalase, Becking, LGMB; Hampton, HC. AMERICAN JOURNAL OF BOTANY Volume: 7 Issue: 7 Pages: 261-274 Published: JUL 1920