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.

Vote for Your Favourite Biologists Of The 20th Century

 1 
Richard Dawkins
(Evolutionary Biologist)

Richard Dawkins
10
Birthdate: March 26, 1941
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nairobi, Kenya

Richard Dawkins is a British ethologist, author, and evolutionary biologist. He first achieved popularity after publishing his book, The Selfish Gene, which is credited with popularizing the gene selection theory. The book is also credited with introducing the term meme. In 2006, he established the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science to promote secularism and scientific literacy.

 2 
Alexander Fleming
(Physician and Microbiologist)

Alexander Fleming
8
Birthdate: August 6, 1881
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Darvel, East Ayrshire, Scotland
Died: March 11, 1955

Alexander Fleming was a Scottish microbiologist and physician. He is credited with discovering penicillin, the world's first effective antibiotic substance; a discovery that changed the course of history. He also discovered lysozyme, an antimicrobial enzyme which forms part of the innate immune system. In 1999, Fleming was named in Time magazine's 100 Most Important People of the 20th century list.

 3 
Rachel Carson
(Marine biologist)

Rachel Carson
4
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.

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 4 
Francis Crick
(Co-discoverer of the Structure of the DNA Molecule, Nobel Prize Winner)

Francis Crick
4
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.

 5 
E. O. Wilson
(Biologist)

E. O. Wilson
4
Birthdate: June 10, 1929
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
Died: December 26, 2021

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.

 6 

Lynn Margulis
4
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. 

 7 
David Attenborough
(Broadcaster)

David Attenborough
4
Birthdate: May 8, 1926
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Isleworth, England

Widely regarded as a national treasure in the United Kingdom, Sir David Attenborough is the only person to have received BAFTAs for TV shows meant for different television sets, such as black and white, color, 3D, HD, and 4K. In 2002, he was mentioned in BBC's 100 Greatest Britons list.

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 8 
J.B.S. Haldane
(Scientist)

J.B.S. Haldane
3
Birthdate: November 5, 1892
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Oxford, England
Died: December 1, 1964

British geneticist J.B.S. Haldane is remembered for his pioneering use of statistics in biology. A proponent of neo-Darwinism, he was the son of physiologist John Scott Haldane and had begun assisting his father at age 8. He later joined the British Communist Party and also moved to India.

 9 

Rosalind Franklin
8
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. 

 10 
Craig Venter
(Biotechnologist known for leading the first draft sequence of the human genomeand assembled the first team to transfect a cell with a synthetic chromosome)

Craig Venter
4
Birthdate: October 14, 1946
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

Craig Venter biotechnologist and businessman best known for leading the first draft sequence of the human genome. He is the founder of Celera Genomics and the Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) and the co-founder of Human Longevity Inc.  He received the Dan David Prize for his contribution to genome research and is a member of the American Philosophical Society. 

 11 
Jeremy Wade
(Television presenter, Writer)

Jeremy Wade
4
Birthdate: March 23, 1956
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ipswich, Suffolk, England

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. 

 12 
Eugene Sledge
(Biologist, Soldier, Academic, University teacher, Writer)

Eugene Sledge
4
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.

 13 
Alfred Kinsey
(Biologist)

Alfred Kinsey
4
Birthdate: June 23, 1894
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hoboken, New Jersey, United States
Died: August 25, 1956

Alfred Kinsey was an American biologist, sexologist, and professor of zoology and entomology. He is credited with founding the Indiana University's Institute for Sex Research in 1947. Kinsey's research on human sexuality and his other works have influenced cultural and social values in the USA as well as internationally. In 2012, Kinsey was inducted into Chicago's Legacy Walk.

 14 
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
(Business woman)

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
4
Birthdate: March 23, 1953
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bangalore, Mysore State, India

Biocon founder and chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is a self-made billionaire entrepreneur who made it to Forbes’s Power Women 2020 list. Though she initially wished to be a brewer like her father, she later drifted to the biochemical industry. Apart from revolutionizing the Indian biopharma market, she also heads a charitable organization.

 15 
Stephen Jay Gould
(Paleontologist)

Stephen Jay Gould
4
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.

 16 
Nettie Stevens
(Geneticist)

Nettie Stevens
6
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.

 17 

Barbara McClintock
3
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.  

 18 

Theodosius Dobzhansky
3
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.  

 19 
Nell Newman
(Actress)

Nell Newman
6
Birthdate: April 8, 1959
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City, New York, U.S.

Nell Newman is a biologist, environmentalist, and former child actress. An ardent supporter of sustainable agriculture, Newman is credited with founding a pet food and organic food production company called Newman's Own. For her environmental leadership, Newman was honored with the Rachel Carson Award in 2014. In 2017, she was made an inductee of the Specialty Food Hall of Fame.

 20 
Bruce Edwards Ivins
(Biologist, Scientist, Circus performer, Politician)

Bruce Edwards Ivins
4
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. 

 21 
Kathleen Rubins
(Astronaut, Biologist)

Kathleen Rubins
4
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. 

 22 
Dorothy Hodgkin
(Biochemist)

Dorothy Hodgkin
3
Birthdate: May 12, 1910
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cairo, Egypt
Died: July 29, 1994

Dorothy Hodgkin received the 1964 Nobel Prize for mapping the structure of penicillin and Vitamin B12. She is also known for her work on insulin. Beginning her work on structure of an organic compound by using X-ray crystallography as an undergraduate student, she later developed it further and used it to determine the three-dimensional structure of complex organic molecules.

 23 
James Lovelock
(Biologist, Chemist, University teacher, Mythographer)

James Lovelock
4
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.

 24 
Hans Christian Gram
(Former bacteriologist noted for his development of the Gram stain)

Hans Christian Gram
3
Birthdate: September 13, 1853
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: November 14, 1938

Hans Christian Gram was a Danish bacteriologist best remembered for developing a technique called Gram stain, which is still used today to classify bacteria. He achieved international recognition after developing the Gram stain technique. Hans Christian Gram also served as a professor at the University of Copenhagen.

 25 
Aubrey de Grey
(Biologist)

Aubrey de Grey
8
Birthdate: April 20, 1963
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London

 26 
Yoshinori Ohsumi
(Biologist)

Yoshinori Ohsumi
4
Birthdate: February 9, 1945
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Fukuoka, Japan

 27 
Ernst Mayr
(Biologist)

Ernst Mayr
3
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.

 28 
Paul R. Ehrlich
(Entomologist, Zoologist, University teacher)

Paul R. Ehrlich
3
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. 

 29 
Ronald Fisher
(Statistician)

Ronald Fisher
4
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. 

 30 
Paul Stamets
(Mycologist)

Paul Stamets
4
Birthdate: July 17, 1955
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Columbiana, Ohio, United States

Paul Stamets is an American entrepreneur and mycologist. An ardent supporter of mycoremediation and medicinal fungi, Stamets sells various mushroom products. In 2014, he was honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science with an Invention Ambassador award. In 2019, he contributed immensely to the creation of a documentary film titled Fantastic Fungi.

 31 

Elizabeth Blackburn
5
Birthdate: November 26, 1948
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hobart, 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.

 32 
Pierre Joliot
(Biologist and researcher for the CNRS.)

Pierre Joliot
3
Birthdate: March 12, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France

 33 
Bruce Lipton
(Biologist)

Bruce Lipton
4
Birthdate: October 21, 1944
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Mount Kisco, New York, United States

Bruce Lipton is a developmental biologist. He is best known as the author of the book The Biology of Belief, in which he claims that beliefs control human biology rather than DNA and inheritance. He earned a Ph.D. in developmental biology from the University of Virginia and began his academic career. He received the 2009 Goi Peace Award. 

 34 
Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard
(Biologist, Researcher)

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard
4
Birthdate: October 20, 1942
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Magdeburg, Germany

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. 

 35 
David Baltimore
(Virologist)

David Baltimore
3
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. 

 36 
Shinya Yamanaka
(Biologist, Physician, Professor)

Shinya Yamanaka
3
Birthdate: September 4, 1962
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Osaka

 37 
Anne McLaren
(Geneticist)

Anne McLaren
3
Birthdate: April 26, 1927
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: July 7, 2007

Geneticist Anne McLaren is remembered for her pioneering research in embryology that paved the way for further research in fertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilization. The Royal Society fellow had also appeared as a child actor in the film adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel Things to Come.

 38 
Sydney Brenner
(Biologist)

Sydney Brenner
3
Birthdate: January 13, 1927
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Germiston, Transvaal, Union of South Africa
Died: April 5, 2019

Sydney Brenner was a South African biologist who made important contributions to various areas of molecular biology, including the genetic code. Brenner shared the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Sir John E. Sulston and H. Robert Horvitz. Sydney Brenner is credited with founding the Molecular Sciences Institute, which is situated in the United States of America.

 39 
John Maynard Smith
(Mathematician)

John Maynard Smith
3
Birthdate: February 6, 1920
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: April 19, 2004

One of the most influential evolutionary biologists of his generation, John Maynard Smith was originally aeronautical engineer. Later, he took a second degree in genetics and did extensive research on subjects like population genetics and evolution of sex. Known for formalizing the central concept in evolutionary game theory, he introduced the evolutionarily stable strategy, impacting a wide variety of studies.  

 40 
Maurice Hilleman
(Microbiologist)

Maurice Hilleman
3
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.

 41 

Ernest Everett Just
3
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.  

 42 
Nikolaas Tinbergen
(Ornithologist)

Nikolaas Tinbergen
3
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.

 43 
Hans Adolf Krebs
(Biologist)

Hans Adolf Krebs
3
Birthdate: August 25, 1900
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hildesheim, Germany
Died: November 22, 1981

Born to an ENT surgeon in Germany, Hans Adolf Krebs followed in his father’s footsteps and studied medicine. After fleeing Nazi Germany, he went to England, where he joined the University of Cambridge as a researcher. The Nobel Prize-winning scientist is remembered for his groundbreaking discovery of cellular respiration.

 44 
Linda B. Buck
(American biologist)

Linda B. Buck
2
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.

 45 
Michael Levitt
(Physicist, Biologist, Bioinformatician, Chemist, Scientist, Educationist, University teacher)

Michael Levitt
3
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.

 46 
Nikolai Vavilov
(Former agronomist, botanist and geneticist best known for having identified the centers of origin of cultivated plants)

Nikolai Vavilov
3
Birthdate: November 25, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: January 26, 1943

 47 
Julian Huxley
(Biologist)

Julian Huxley
3
Birthdate: June 22, 1887
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, England
Died: February 14, 1975

 48 
Andrew Baldwin
(Reality star, naval officer and athlete most famous as the star of the reality show "The Bachelor: Officer and a Gentleman.")

Andrew Baldwin
3
Birthdate: February 5, 1977
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States

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.

 49 
Yuan Longping
(Biologist, Engineer, Inventor)

Yuan Longping
3
Birthdate: September 7, 1930
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Beijing

 50 
Peter Medawar
(Biologist)

Peter Medawar
3
Birthdate: February 28, 1915
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Petrópolis, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Died: October 2, 1987