Jan Ingenhousz or Ingen-Housz FRS was a Dutch physiologist, biologist and chemist. He is best known for showing that light is essential to photosynthesis and thus having discovered photosynthesis.
He also discovered that plants, like animals, have cellular respiration.
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He studied medicine at the University of Louvain and graduated in 1752. After spending some years in several European capitals in the typical 18th-century tradition, he settled in London in 1779
A man of varied scientific interests, Ingenhousz also invented an improved apparatus for generating large amounts of static electricity and made the first quantitative measurements of heat conduction in metal rods
In his lifetime he was best known for successfully inoculating the members of the Habsburg family in Vienna against smallpox in 1768 and subsequently being the private counsellor and personal physician to the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa.
In the 1770s Ingenhousz became interested in gaseous exchanges of plants. He did this after meeting the scientist Joseph Priestley (1733–1804) at his house in Birstall, Yorkshire on 23 May 1771. Priestley had found out that plants make and absorb gases.
Ingenhousz’ travelling party in northern England included Benjamin Franklin. In 1779, Ingenhousz discovered that, in the presence of light, plants give off bubbles from their green parts while, in the shade, the bubbles eventually stop.
In 1799, Ingenhousz died at Bowood House, Calne, England, and was buried in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, Calne. His wife died the following year.