plac Uniwersytecki 1, 50-137 Wrocław, Poland
Goeppert entered the University of Breslau (today University of Wrocław) in 1821 to study medicine.
Unter den Linden 6, 10117 Berlin, Germany
In 1824 Goeppert went to the University of Berlin (today Humboldt University of Berlin), where he earned his medical degree in 1825.
In 1861 he became a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Goeppert discovered his love of botany while still a schoolboy. In order to follow his inclination he left school early and worked for five years as a pharmacist. After finishing his education he entered the University of Breslau (today University of Wrocław) in 1821 to study medicine. In 1824 he went to the University of Berlin (today Humboldt University of Berlin), where he earned his medical degree in 1825.
Goeppert returned to Breslau in 1826 and established himself as a general practitioner, surgeon, and ophthalmologist. He soon realized, however, that he would not be fully satisfied in this occupation. In 1827, therefore, he became Privatdozent at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Breslau with work on plant physiology. In the same year, he became an assistant at the university’s botanical garden, with which he was associated for more than fifty-six years. He was promoted to associate professor on the Faculty of Medicine in 1831 and to full professor in 1839. In 1852 Goeppert assumed the chair of botany and was appointed a director of the botanical garden and museum. His lectures in these years covered many fields: pharmacology, toxicology, forensic chemistry, systematic botany, plant physiology, plant geography, and paleobotany. He was particularly interested in the cryptogams.
Besides his official duties and scientific studies Goeppert, who was extremely active in public life, participated in the promotion of the cultural and economic interests of the city of Breslau and of the province of Silesia.
With the exception of a few medical topics, Goeppert’s scientific publications were devoted to botany, especially paleobotany. His doctoral dissertation and Habilitationsschrift both dealt with plant physiology. He wrote other works in this field on the evolution of heat in living plants, especially during germination and blossoming, and on the influence of low temperatures on plants. In another series of works, he considered the ecology, physiology, and pathology of forest trees and fruit trees, especially their reactions to mechanical interference and external injuries.
In 1833 Goeppert entered the field in which he was to accomplish his most distinguished work. Stimulated by Otto, an anatomist at the University of Breslau who had assembled a considerable collection of fossil animal remains found in Silesia, he began to examine this region’s fossil plant remains. The two scientists issued a joint call to their fellow Silesians to assist this project by sending them fossil plants. Their appeal was very successful. Goeppert received rich and interesting materials from many areas. He studied both this material and his own collections with great industry and enthusiasm. The Carboniferous flora from the coal deposits of Upper and Lower Silesia provided his richest discoveries.
Goeppert’s first paleontological work, “Die fossilen Farnkräuter,” appeared in 1836. In it he discussed the Carboniferous ferns and compared them with those of the modern period, thereby establishing his reputation as a paleobotanist. Five years later he began publication of Gattungen der fossilen Pflanzen, vergliechen mit denen der Jetztwelt. This large, illustrated work, with German and French texts, greatly advanced the knowledge of fossil plants.
Following his great success in the study of Carboniferous flora, Goeppert turned attention to the fossil plants of other stages of the earth’s history and produced monographs on the fossil flora of almost all the geological periods. Among these are two masterpieces: Die fossilen Coniferen and Die fossile Flora der Permischen Formation. These works contain the results of his microscopic examination of various specimens, including chips and thin sections of siliceous trunks. This examination allowed him to provide the first detailed comparisons with the tissues of living woods.
Goeppert was especially attracted by the flora of the Tertiary. He described and reconstructed palm, yew, and plane forests and cypress stands from various fossil occurrences in Silesia. As in his work on the Paleozoic and Mesozoic, he also considered plant remains from other regions of Germany, as well as from the rest of Europe and from overseas. Thus he demonstrated that in the Tertiary deposits of central Europe the Japanese ginkgo, the Chilean Libocedrus, and the North American yew occur side by side, and that in the Tertiary the vegetation of Java had the same tropical character it has today. Goeppert took a special interest in the amber of east Prussia and throughout his life studied the plants in it. As early as 1837, for example, he realized that a certain species of conifer must have produced the resin of the east Prussian amber.
Goeppert was an honorary, corresponding, or regular member of more than a hundred learned societies and academies all over the world, including the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and Silesian Society for Patriotic Culture. In 1861 he became foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Goeppert was aided in his work by his extraordinary organizational ability, as well as by his affability.
Goeppert was married twice, first to the eldest daughter of his professor, Remer, and then - after her early death - to one of her younger sisters. He had one son and one daughter.