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James G. Needham was born on March 16, 1868 in Virginia, Illinois. He studied with John Henry Comstock at Cornell University, 1896-1898. From 1898-1907 he taught biology at Lake Forest University and then returned to Cornell as assistant professor of limnology. In 1914 when Professor Comstock retired, Needham succeeded him as head of the Department of Entomology at Cornell, a position he held until his retirement in 1935. He published numerous scientific articles, educational papers, and textbooks; he also wrote poetry and philosophical writings. Memberships included the Entomological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Limnological Society of America, and other scientific societies.