20 December: Tribute to Julius Richard Petri

OV Digital Desk
3 Min Read
Julius Richard Petri

Image Courtesy: Google Doodle

Julius Richard Petri (31 May 1852 – 20 December 1921) was a German microbiologist who is generally credited with inventing the device known as the Petri dish, which is named after him, while working as assistant to bacteriologist Robert Koch.

Life and Career

Julius Richard Petri was born on May 31, 1852, in Barmen, Prussia (now part of Germany). Not much is known about his early life or family background.

Petri studied medicine at the Kaiser Wilhelm Academy for Military Physicians in Berlin and later worked at the Imperial Health Office in Germany. In the late 1870s, while working as an assistant to the renowned bacteriologist Robert Koch, Petri invented the Petri dish, which became one of his most significant contributions to science. The Petri dish, also known as a Petri plate or cell-culture dish, is a shallow, cylindrical, lidded dish made of glass or plastic, used to grow and culture bacteria and other microorganisms.


Petri’s invention revolutionized the field of microbiology by providing a sterile and controlled environment for the cultivation of microorganisms. It enabled scientists to study and identify different types of bacteria and conduct various experiments, leading to significant advancements in the understanding and treatment of infectious diseases.

Julius Richard Petri passed away on December 20, 1921, in Zeitz, Germany, at the age of 69.

Award and Legacy

Petri’s contributions to science were significant, but he did not receive widespread recognition during his lifetime. The Petri dish, however, gained widespread adoption and became a fundamental tool in microbiology laboratories worldwide. While Petri did not receive any major awards or honors during his lifetime, his invention’s impact on the scientific community cannot be overstated.


Julius Richard Petri’s most enduring legacy is the invention of the Petri dish. It remains an essential tool in microbiology, used in laboratories globally for cultivating and studying microorganisms. The Petri dish has enabled countless scientists to make groundbreaking discoveries and advance various fields, including medicine, biotechnology, and environmental science.

Petri’s invention is considered a cornerstone of laboratory science, and his name will always be associated with this indispensable tool. His contribution has paved the way for significant advancements in microbiology and has had a lasting impact on our understanding of infectious diseases and the development of treatments and vaccines.

On 31 May 2013, Google celebrated Julius Richard Petri’s 161st Birthday with a doodle.

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