Dr. Robert Greenleaf Leavitt, born at Parsonsfield, Maine, was an early American Harvard-educated botanist and widely-published author in the field of botany, as well as an early college and high school educator in the natural sciences. Leavitt also worked for nine years as a botanical researcher at the Ames Botanical Laboratory in North Easton, Massachusetts.
Dr. Leavitt was an early botany professor at Harvard College, where he had graduated in the class of 1889 after attending Worcester Academy. Following his Harvard education, Leavitt began publishing widely in the field of botany, including articles in The American Naturalist, The Botanical Gazette, Science magazine, the Boston Society of Natural History magazine as well as other publications in the field. In 1899 Leavitt was named assistant professor at Harvard.
Leavitt subsequently earned his Doctor of Philosophy in biology at Harvard in 1904. Leavitt spent some nine years at the Ames Botanical Laboratory in study, research, writing and collecting specimens, including trips to Cuba and Europe. Following his time at the Ames Botanical Laboratory, Leavitt became a high school botany teacher in Massachusetts and later in New Jersey. "College teaching is the least interesting," Leavitt wrote his Harvard classmates, "normal school the most interesting."