Famous Biologists Of The 20th Century

Biology is one of the most fascinating and diverse fields of study in science. People concerning the study, primarily known as biologists, have made many ground-breaking discoveries in this branch of science. While some of these discoveries have helped in curing diseases, others have assisted in performing medical procedures and classifying animals. Since ancient times, the field of biology has had many greatest biologists who have contributed phenomenally in the field. Greek biologists Hippocrates became known as the Father of Western Medicine, as he presented with his work a guide outlining ways of treating patients. Since thence, each century was blessed with some of prolific scientists in the field who gave new definition and new meaning to various biological process and made several pioneering discoveries. The 20th century saw of the greatest biologists, such as, James Watson, Francis Crick, Norman Borlaug and Walter Gilbert. These, however, are just a handful of the long list of biologists in the century. Read this section to find famous biologists of the 20th century.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson.
4
Famous As: Marine biologist
Birthdate: May 27, 1907
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Springdale
Died: April 14, 1964

Rachel Carson was a conservationist, marine biologist, and author. She is credited with authoring an influential book titled Silent Spring, which played a significant role in advancing the global environmental movement. Carson is also remembered for her book, The Sea Around Us, which earned her a U.S. National Book Award. She was posthumously honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 2 Francis Crick

Rachel Carson.
4
Famous As: Co-discoverer of the Structure of the DNA Molecule, Nobel Prize Winner
Birthdate: June 8, 1916
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Weston Favell, Northamptonshire, England
Died: July 28, 2004

Nobel Prize-winning British biophysicist Francis Crick is best known for his ground-breaking work to determine the structure of the DNA, along with James Watson, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin. He taught at various institutes, such as the Salk Institute, and was also awarded the Order of Merit.

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 3 E. O. Wilson

Rachel Carson.
4
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: June 10, 1929
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Birmingham

E. O. Wilson is an American naturalist, biologist, and writer. An influential biologist, Wilson has earned several nicknames, such as The Darwin of the 21st century. He has also been referred to as the father of biodiversity and the father of sociobiology. In 1995, he was ranked among the most influential American personalities by Time magazine.

 4 Lynn Margulis

Rachel Carson.
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: March 5, 1938
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: November 22, 2011

Lynn Margulis was an evolutionary theorist, biologist, educator, and science author. She was a modern proponent of the significance of symbiosis in evolution. Along with British chemist James Lovelock, Margulis was the co-developer of the Gaia hypothesis. She was a strong critic of neo-Darwinism. In 2001, she was honored with the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement. 

 5 Rosalind Franklin

Rachel Carson.
4
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: July 25, 1920
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Notting Hill, London, England
Died: April 16, 1958
Chemist and X-ray crystallographer Rosalind Franklin is remembered for her pathbreaking X-ray diffraction studies of DNA, which helped in the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the double helix structure of DNA by Francis Crick, James Watson, and Maurice Wilkins later. She also worked on the molecular structures of viruses. 

 6 Norman Borlaug

Rachel Carson.
4
Famous As: Father of the Green Revolution
Birthdate: March 25, 1914
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cresco, Iowa
Died: September 12, 2009

Norman Borlaug was an American agronomist who played a key role in the Green Revolution, a set of research technology transfer initiatives that increased agricultural production, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. Nicknamed the Father of the Green Revolution, Borlaug was also honored with the Congressional Gold Medal and Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work.

 7 Jeremy Wade

Rachel Carson
4
Famous As: Biologist, Television presenter, Writer
Birthdate: March 23, 1956
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Suffolk

Jeremy Wade is a British TV presenter, biologist, and freshwater detective. He is best known for his TV series River Monsters, Mighty Rivers, and Dark Waters. He attended the University of Kent and began his career as a biology teacher. He made his TV debut by chance and didn’t take long to become a popular TV presenter. 

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 8 Stephen Jay Gould

Rachel Carson.
4
Famous As: Paleontologist
Birthdate: September 10, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bayside, New York, United States
Died: May 20, 2002

Stephen Jay Gould was an American evolutionary biologist, paleontologist, and historian of science. One of the most widely read and influential authors of popular science, Gould was named a Living Legend in April 2000 by the US Library of Congress. He is also counted among the most frequently cited scientists, as far as evolutionary theory is concerned.

 9 Eugene Sledge

Rachel Carson
4
Famous As: Biologist, Soldier, Academic, University teacher, Writer
Birthdate: November 4, 1923
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Mobile
Died: March 3, 2001

Eugene Sledge was a US Marine, author, and university professor. He is remembered for chronicling his Second World War combat experiences in a memoir titled With the Old Breed, which was used as source material for a television documentary miniseries titled The War. The memoir also inspired the 2010 HBO miniseries, The Pacific, where Sledge was played by Joseph Mazzello.

 10 Ernst Mayr

Rachel Carson.
3
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: July 5, 1904
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kempten
Died: February 3, 2005

Ernst Mayr was a renowned taxonomist, ornithologist, tropical explorer, historian of science, and philosopher of biology. He was also one of the leading evolutionary biologists of the 20th century. His work contributed immensely to the progression of the biological species concept. Ernst Mayr is also credited with originating the modern philosophy of biology, especially the part concerning evolutionary biology.

 11 Ronald Fisher

Rachel Carson.
4
Famous As: Statistician
Birthdate: February 17, 1890
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: East Finchley, London, England
Died: July 29, 1962

Ronald Fisher was a British polymath, statistician, geneticist, mathematician, and academic. He is credited to have single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science. He made important contributions to the field of genetics and is known as one of the three principal founders of population genetics. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1929. 

 12 Nettie Stevens

Rachel Carson
4
Famous As: Geneticist
Birthdate: July 7, 1861
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cavendish, Vermont, United States
Died: May 4, 1912

Nettie Stevens was an American geneticist. She is credited with discovering sex chromosomes which later came to be known as the X and Y chromosomes. In 1994, Nettie Stevens was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 13 Barbara McClintock

Rachel Carson.
3
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: June 16, 1902
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Died: September 2, 1992

Barbara McClintock was a scientist and cytogeneticist who received the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. She earned her Ph.D. in botany from Cornell University and began her lifelong work in the development of maize cytogenetics. She eventually gained recognition as among the best in the field and was honored with several prestigious awards.  

 14 Konrad Lorenz

Rachel Carson.
3
Famous As: Zoologist
Birthdate: November 7, 1903
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: February 27, 1989

Nobel Prize-winning Austrian zoologist Konrad Lorenz is remembered as a pioneer of ethology. The son of a surgeon father and a physician mother, Lorenz was a qualified physician himself. A university degree awarded to him was rescinded posthumously due to his association with the Nazi party

 15 Theodosius Dobzhansky

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: Geneticist
Birthdate: January 24, 1900
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nemyriv, Ukraine
Died: December 18, 1975

Theodosius Dobzhansky was a Ukrainian-American geneticist and evolutionary biologist. He played a key role in shaping modern synthesis in the field of evolutionary biology.  His 1937 book, Genetics and the Origin of Species, is a seminal work on modern synthesis. He was the recipient of several awards, including the US National Medal of Science and the Franklin Medal.  

 16 Bruce Edwards Ivins

Rachel Carson
4
Famous As: Biologist, Scientist, Circus performer, Politician
Birthdate: April 22, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Lebanon
Died: July 29, 2008

Bruce Edwards Ivins was a microbiologist and vaccinologist. He served as the senior biodefense researcher at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). He was the suspected perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks and died in an apparent suicide after realizing that he was likely to face criminal charges for his alleged role in the attacks. 

 17 Aubrey de Grey

Rachel Carson
6
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: April 20, 1963
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London

 18 Kathleen Rubins

Rachel Carson
4
Famous As: Astronaut, Biologist
Birthdate: October 14, 1978
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Farmington

Kathleen Rubins is a microbiologist and NASA astronaut. In 2016, she became the 60th woman to fly in space when she launched on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. She traveled to the International Space Station and returned to Earth after a few months. She has spent a total of 300 days, 1 hour, and 31 minutes in space. 

 19 Luc Montagnier

Rachel Carson
4
Famous As: Physician, Biologist, Virologist, Researcher, Professor, Scientist
Birthdate: August 18, 1932
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Chabris

French virologist Luc Montagnier is known for discovering the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which led him to jointly receive the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Montagnier also made headlines promoting controversial and unverified claims related to vaccinations, homeopathy and COVID-19 pandemic, which he argued as man-made and possibly a result of an attempt to create an HIV/AIDS vaccine.

 20 James Lovelock

Rachel Carson
4
Famous As: Biologist, Chemist, University teacher, Mythographer
Birthdate: July 26, 1919
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Letchworth

Renowned James Lovelock is best known for propagating the Gaia hypothesis, which states that every living being on planet Earth is part of a single self-regulating superorganism. He is also known for his long association with NIMR, London, and Harvard University and has over 50 patents under his name.

 21 Paul R. Ehrlich

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: Entomologist, Zoologist, University teacher
Birthdate: May 29, 1932
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Philadelphia

Paul R. Ehrlich is a biologist best known for the 1968 book The Population Bomb, which he co-authored with his wife, Anne. He kindled controversy for his views on the consequences of population growth in a world with limited resources. He has been called an "irrepressible doomster” by his critics, while his supporters credit him for spreading concern about overpopulation. 

 22 Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard

Rachel Carson.
2
Famous As: Researcher
Birthdate: October 20, 1942
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Magdeburg

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard is a German developmental biologist. She studied at the University of Tübingen where she earned a Ph.D. for her research on protein–DNA interactions. Together with biologist Eric Wieschaus and geneticist Edward B. Lewis, she received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1995. She is also a recipient of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize. 

 23 Pierre Joliot

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: Biologist, Biochemist, Professor
Birthdate: March 12, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: 6th arrondissement of Paris

 24 Julian Huxley

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: June 22, 1887
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, England
Died: February 14, 1975

 25 Shinya Yamanaka

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: Biologist, Physician, Professor
Birthdate: September 4, 1962
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Osaka

 26 Elizabeth Blackburn

Rachel Carson.
3
Famous As: American-Australian researcher
Birthdate: November 26, 1948
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Nobel Prize-winning Australian-American biochemist and molecular biologist Elizabeth Blackburn is best known for co-discovering the enzyme telomerase. She was allegedly removed from the American President's Council on Bioethics over her support for stem cell research, which went against the government. She has honorary doctorate degrees from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.

 27 Erwin Chargaff

Rachel Carson.
3
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: August 11, 1905
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Chernivtsi, Ukraine
Died: June 20, 2002

Erwin Chargaff was a biochemist and writer who worked at the Columbia University medical school as a professor of biochemistry. He is credited with discovering the Chargaff's rules, which played an important role in the discovery of the DNA's double helix structure. Also a prolific writer, Erwin Chargaff authored several books, including an autobiography.

 28 David Baltimore

Rachel Carson.
3
Famous As: Virologist
Birthdate: March 7, 1938
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

David Baltimore is an American university administrator and biologist. He is currently serving as President Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He won the 1975 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his discoveries concerning the interaction between the genetic material of the cell and tumor viruses. In 1999, he was honored with the National Medal of Science. 

 29 Maurice Hilleman

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: Microbiologist
Birthdate: August 30, 1919
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Miles City, Montana, United States
Died: April 11, 2005

Maurice Hilleman was an American microbiologist who developed more than 40 vaccines. His vaccines save almost eight million lives every year and he is regarded as one of the most important vaccinologists of all time. He also played a major role in the discovery of antigenic drift and shift. In 1988, he was honored with the National Medal of Science.

 30 Linda B. Buck

Rachel Carson
2
Famous As: American biologist
Birthdate: January 29, 1947
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Seattle

Linda B. Buck is an American biologist who received the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her work on olfactory receptors; she shared the award with molecular biologist Richard Axel. An important and influential biologist, Linda has also won several other awards, such as the Takasago Award, Unilever Science Award, Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award, and R.H. Wright Award.

 31 Ernest Everett Just

Rachel Carson.
3
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: August 14, 1883
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Charleston, South Carolina, United States
Died: October 27, 1941

Ernest Everett Just was an African-American biologist and academic. He is credited with recognizing the fundamental role of the cell surface in the development of organisms. As a black boy growing up in the late 19th century, he had to face enormous challenges before he could establish himself in his career. He co-founded the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.  

 32 Andrew Baldwin

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: Biologist, Officer, Model
Birthdate: February 5, 1977
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lancaster

Although best known for his appearances on the ABC reality dating show The Bachelor, Andrew James Baldwin is much more than just a television personality. A Medical Officer with US Navy, he is known for his humanitarian works and enthusiasm for triathlon, being named to the All-Navy triathlon team five times, besides competing internationally in numerous Half-Ironman and Ironman events.

 33 Sergei Winogradsky

Rachel Carson
2
Famous As: Microbiologist
Birthdate: September 1, 1856
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kiev, Ukraine
Died: February 25, 1953

 34 Nikolaas Tinbergen

Rachel Carson.
3
Famous As: Ornithologist
Birthdate: April 15, 1907
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: The Hague, Netherlands
Died: December 21, 1988

Nikolaas Tinbergen was a Dutch ornithologist and biologist. Counted among the founders of modern ethology, Tinbergen shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1973 with Konrad Lorenz and Karl von Frisch for their discoveries concerning the social behavior patterns in animals. He is also credited with authoring an influential book on animal behavior titled The Study of Instinct.

 35 Michael Levitt

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: Physicist, Biologist, Bioinformatician, Chemist, Scientist, Educationist, University teacher
Birthdate: May 9, 1947
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pretoria

Michael Levitt is a biophysicist who has been serving as a Stanford University professor of structural biology since 1987. Along with Arieh Warshel and Martin Karplus, Levitt received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2013. He has also received several other awards, including the DeLano Award for Computational Biosciences and was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 2002.

 36 Yuan Longping

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: Biologist, Engineer, Inventor
Birthdate: September 7, 1930
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Beijing

 37 Peter Medawar

Rachel Carson.
3
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: February 28, 1915
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Died: October 2, 1987

 38 Karl Patterson Schmidt

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: American zoologist
Birthdate: June 19, 1890
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lake Forest, Illinois, United States
Died: September 26, 1957

Karl Patterson Schmidt was a herpetologist. He studied biology and geology at Cornell University and realized his keen interest in herpetology. He later worked as a scientific assistant in herpetology at the American Museum of Natural History. He undertook many collecting expeditions for the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. He died after being bitten by a boomslang snake. 

 39 PZ Myers

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: Biologist, Zoologist, Blogger, University teacher
Birthdate: March 9, 1957
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kent

PZ Myers is a biologist known for founding the Pharyngula science blog. His blog is one of the top-ranked blogs by a scientist. A "science geek" from an early age, he obtained a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Oregon. As an academician, he has taught at the University of Oregon, the University of Utah, and Temple University.  

 40 Tim Flannery

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: Biologist, Paleontologist, Zoologist, Environmentalist
Birthdate: January 28, 1956
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Melbourne

Tim Flannery is an Australian paleontologist, mammalogist, environmentalist, explorer, conservationist, and public scientist. Tim Flannery is credited with discovering over 30 mammal species. He is also credited with co-founding Climate Council, a non-profit organization that aims at providing accurate information on climate change to the Australian public. In 2007, Tim Flannery was named Australian of the Year.

 41 Massimo Pigliucci

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: Biologist, Philosopher, Geneticist, Writer, University teacher
Birthdate: January 16, 1964
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Monrovia

Massimo Pigliucci is an academician currently serving as a professor of philosophy at the City College of New York. A staunch critic of pseudoscience and creationism, he advocates for secularism and science education. He was once the co-host of the Rationally Speaking Podcast. He often writes on topics, such as climate change denial, pseudoscience, intelligent design, and philosophy. 

 42 Stanley Miller

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: Chemist, Biologist, University teacher
Birthdate: March 7, 1930
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Oakland
Died: May 20, 2007

Stanley Miller was an American chemist best remembered for conducting several important experiments in abiogenesis. His 1952 Miller–Urey experiment proved that inorganic precursors could be used to synthesize complex organic molecules. Often referred to as the father of prebiotic chemistry, Miller was honored with the prestigious Oparin Medal in 1983.

 43 Bill Mollison

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: scientist, naturalist, psychologist
Birthdate: May 4, 1928
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Stanley
Died: September 24, 2016

Known for co-developing the concept of a sustainable form of agriculture called the permaculture, Bill Mollison was one of the most influential ecological pioneers, authors, and teachers. Also the founder of The Permaculture Institute (Tasmania) and co-publisher of a book called Permaculture One, he is credited with training thousands of people the art of growing food without harming the nature.  

 44 Jacques Monod

Rachel Carson.
3
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: February 9, 1910
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris
Died: May 31, 1976

Jacques Monod was a French biochemist known for his collaborative work with biologist François Jacob and microbiologist André Lwoff on the genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis. The three men were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1965. Monod is also widely regarded as one of the founders of molecular biology. 

 45 Venkatraman Ramakrishnan

Rachel Carson.
2
Famous As: Structural biologist
Birthdate: 1952 AD
Birthplace: Chidambaram,Tamilnadu India

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan is a British-American structural biologist whose research on the function of the ribosome earned him the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry which he shared with Ada Yonath and Thomas A. Steitz. From 2015 to 2020, he served as the president of the Royal Society.

 46 Ludwig von Bertalanffy

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: Biologist, University teacher
Birthdate: September 19, 1901
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Atzgersdorf
Died: June 12, 1972

Austrian-Canadian biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy is best remembered as one of the pioneers of the general systems theory (GST). While he initially studied philosophy and history, he later switched to biology. It is believed his allegiance to the Nazi Party helped him become a professor at the University of Vienna.

 47 Carol W. Greider

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: Biologist, Molecular biologist, Geneticist, Physician
Birthdate: April 15, 1961
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Davis

Carol W. Greider is a molecular biologist who discovered the enzyme telomerase in 1984. Her discovery was honored several years later when she received the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, along with Blackburn and Jack W. Szostak for their work on telomeres.  The trio also shared the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research for the same work.  

 48 W. D. Hamilton

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: August 1, 1936
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cairo, Egypt
Died: March 7, 2000

 49 Jack W. Szostak

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: Biologist, Molecular biologist, Geneticist, Physician, Professor
Birthdate: November 9, 1952
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London

Nobel Prize-winning Canadian-American biochemist and geneticist Jack W. Szostak revolutionized medical science with his research on the manipulation of genes. The Cornell alumnus is credited with creating the first yeast artificial chromosome. He has also taught at the Harvard Medical School. In spite of being Polish, he doesn’t speak the language.

 50 Salvador Luria

Rachel Carson.
3
Famous As: Microbiologist
Birthdate: August 13, 1912
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Turin, Italy
Died: February 6, 1991

Nobel Prize-winning Italian microbiologist Salvador Luria is best remembered for his work on bacteriophages, or viruses that infect bacteria. He had also chaired Microbiology and later, the Center for Cancer Research at MIT. As a political activist, he was against nuclear weapon testing and was once banned from receiving funds.