Franz Boas was a German-American anthropologist and a pioneer of modern anthropology who has been called the "Father of American Anthropology" and "the Father of Modern Anthropology". Like many such pioneers, he trained in other disciplines; he received his doctorate in physics, and did post-doctoral work in geography. He applied the scientific method to the study of human cultures and societies; previously this discipline was based on the formulation of grand theories around anecdotal knowledge.
Boas once summed up his approach to anthropology and folklore by saying: "In the course of time I became convinced that a materialistic point of view, for a physicist a very real one, was untenable. This gave me a new point of view and I recognized the importance of studying the interaction between the organic and inorganic, above all the relation between the life of a people and their physical environment."