Famous 21st Century Chemists

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 Ahmed Zewail

Ahmed Zewail
4
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: February 26, 1946
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Damanhour, Egypt
Died: August 2, 2016

 2 Jerry Buss

Jerry Buss
4
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: January 27, 1933
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Died: February 18, 2013
Legendary LA Lakers co-owner Jerry Buss lived through a poverty-stricken childhood during the Great Depression. Growing up working odd jobs, he also once quit school to work for the railroads. He grew up to be a chemist and later also taught chemistry, before investing in real estate.

 3 Tu Youyou

Tu Youyou
4
Famous As: chemist, pharmacologist, inventor, university teacher
Birthdate: December 30, 1930
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ningbo

Chinese phytochemist and malariologist Tu Youyou is best remembered for her Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the anti-malarial drug qinghaosu, or artemisinin. She is the first Chinese female Nobel laureate. A tuberculosis infection in her younger days had inspired her to step into medicine. She later studied traditional Chinese medicine, too.

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 4 Alexander Shulgin

Alexander Shulgin
4
Famous As: Rediscoverer of MDMA
Birthdate: June 17, 1925
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Berkeley, California, United States
Died: June 2, 2014

A pioneer of psychedelic drug synthesis, Alexander Shulgin came to be known as The Godfather of Ecstasy, for reinventing the drug MDMA, or ecstasy, for medical use. The Harvard drop-out, who later studied psychiatry and pharmacology, would often experiment his newly invented drugs on himself, his wife, and his friends.

 5 Elias James Corey

Elias James Corey
3
Famous As: Organic Chemist
Birthdate: July 12, 1928
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Methuen, Massachusetts, United States

 6 Retta

Retta
13
Famous As: Stand-up Comedian
Birthdate: April 12, 1970
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, U.S.

 7 Joachim Sauer

Joachim Sauer
5
Famous As: Chemist, University teacher
Birthdate: April 19, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hosena
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 8 James Lovelock

James Lovelock
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.

 9 Roald Hoffmann

Roald Hoffmann
3
Famous As: Theoretical Chemist
Birthdate: July 18, 1937
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Złoczów, Poland (now Ukraine)

 10 George M. Whitesides

George M. Whitesides
3
Famous As: Chemist, University teacher
Birthdate: August 3, 1939
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Louisville

 11 Elio Di Rupo

Elio Di Rupo
4
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: July 18, 1951
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Morlanwelz, Belgium

 12 Marina Oswald

Marina Oswald
4
Famous As: Pharmacist
Birthdate: July 17, 1941
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Severodvinsk Molotovsk, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union

Marina Oswald is a Russian-born American pharmacist best known as the widow of Lee Harvey Oswald, who killed the 35th president of the USA, John F. Kennedy. She played a key role in the Warren Commission hearings where she testified against Oswald. Marina has been portrayed by many actresses in films like JFK and Fatal Deception: Mrs. Lee Harvey Oswald.

 13 Mario J. Molina

Mario J. Molina
2
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: March 19, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Mexico City, Mexico
Died: October 7, 2020

Mario J. Molina was a Mexican chemist who played a key role in understanding and explaining the threat from chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gases to the Earth's ozone layer, which earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995. Molina was the third Mexican-born Nobel laureate and the first Mexican-born person to win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

 14 Michael Levitt

Michael Levitt
4
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.

 15 Tim Hunt

Tim Hunt
3
Famous As: Biochemist, Chemist
Birthdate: February 19, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Neston

Nobel Prize-winning British biochemist Tim Hunt is best known for his research on cell cycle regulation. He was the first to isolate cyclin, while studying sea urchins. His work helped scientists working on cancer research. He has been knighted for his achievements and has also won the Royal Medal.

 16 Ada Yonath

Ada Yonath
3
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: June 22, 1939
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Jerusalem, Isreal

Ada Yonath is an Israeli crystallographer. She is best known for her work on the structure of the ribosome, for which she received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz. The first Israeli woman to win the Nobel Prize, she occupies the Martin S. and Helen Kimmel Professorial Chair at the Weizmann Institute.  

 17 Dan Shechtman

Dan Shechtman
3
Birthdate: January 24, 1941
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tel Aviv, Israel

Dan Shechtman is a scientist currently serving as the Philip Tobias Professor of Materials Science at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. He is best known for his work in the field of quasiperiodic crystals. He received the  Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2011. He unsuccessfully ran for the post of president of Israel in 2014.

 18 Martyn Poliakoff

Martyn Poliakoff
4
Famous As: Chemist, University teacher
Birthdate: December 16, 1947
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: England

Chemist and University of Nottingham professor Martyn Poliakoff is also a YouTube sensation, popular for his channel Periodic Videos and the short video series The Periodic Table of Videos. A Fellow of The Royal Society, he has also been honored by the scientific communities of Ethiopia, Russia, and China.

 19 Fraser Stoddart

Fraser Stoddart
3
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: May 24, 1942
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

 20 Catherine Coleman

Catherine Coleman
3
Famous As: Chemist, Air force officer, Astronaut, Engineer
Birthdate: December 14, 1960
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Charleston

 21 Tomas Lindahl

Tomas Lindahl
3
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: January 28, 1938
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kungsholmen, Stockholm, Sweden

 22 Ryoji Noyori

Ryoji Noyori
2
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: September 3, 1938
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Ashiya, Hyogo, Japan

 23 Carl Djerassi

Carl Djerassi
3
Famous As: Chemist, Writer, University teacher, Science fiction writer, Scientist
Birthdate: October 29, 1923
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: January 31, 2015

Known as the father of the pill, Carl Djerassi is best remembered for chemically synthesizing a steroid mimic of the hormone progesterone, which paved the way for the production of contraceptive pills.  That apart, he made important contributions to the synthesis of antihistamines, pest control, mass spectrometry etc. Also a successful author, he wrote several non-fictions, novels, dramas and poems.

 24 Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim

Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim
3
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: August 7, 1987
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Heppenheim, Germany

 25 Aaron Klug

Aaron Klug
3
Famous As: Chemist & Biophysicist
Birthdate: August 11, 1926
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lithuania

 26 Yuan T. Lee

Yuan T. Lee
3
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: November 19, 1936
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hsinchu

 27 Peter Agre

Peter Agre
3
Famous As: Chemist, Molecular biologist, Professor
Birthdate: January 30, 1949
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Northfield

 28 Paul J. Crutzen

Paul J. Crutzen
3
Famous As: Atmospheric Chemist
Birthdate: December 3, 1933
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Nobel Prize-winning Dutch atmospheric chemist Paul J. Crutzen had initially been a civil engineer and a computer programmer. He is remembered for his contribution to research on the ozone layer. In 2000, he used the term Anthropocene to describe the current era where human action has been changing the planet.

 29 Robert H. Grubbs

Robert H. Grubbs
3
Famous As: Chemist, Autobiographer, University teacher
Birthdate: February 27, 1942
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Possum Trot

 30 Jean-Pierre Sauvage

Jean-Pierre Sauvage
3
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: October 21, 1944
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France

Nobel Prize-winning French chemist Jean-Pierre Sauvage is currently associated with Strasbourg University. He has gained recognition for his research on supramolecular and coordination chemistry, and for creating molecular chains, such as catenane, that mimic the mechanical functions by changing their nature in response to external cues.

 31 Ei-ichi Negishi

Ei-ichi Negishi
3
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: July 14, 1935
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Changchun, China

 32 Roger D. Kornberg

Roger D. Kornberg
3
Famous As: biochemist, chemist, university teacher
Birthdate: April 24, 1947
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: St. Louis

American chemist Roger D. Kornberg studied at Harvard and Stanford and later taught at both these institutes. His research focuses on transcription, or the process of the conversion of DNA into RNA. Both he and his father have won the Nobel Prize, becoming the sixth father-son duo to achieve the feat.

 33 Thomas Cech

Thomas Cech
3
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: December 8, 1947
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Chicago, USA

 34 Richard R. Ernst

Richard R. Ernst
3
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: August 14, 1933
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Winterthur

Richard R. Ernst is a Swiss physical chemist whose work on Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy earned him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1991. Over the course of his career, Ernst has been honored with other awards, including the John Gamble Kirkwood Medal. In 2009, he became the subject of a documentary film titled Science Plus Dharma Equals Social Responsibility.

 35 Damien Leith

Damien Leith
3
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 18, 1976
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

Damien Leith is an Irish-Australian singer and songwriter who achieved popularity after winning the fourth season of Australian Idol in 2006. Since winning the title, he has received one gold and seven platinum certifications by ARIA for his singles and albums. In 2007, Damien Leith received two nominations at the MTV Australia Video Music Awards.

 36 Osamu Shimomura

Osamu Shimomura
3
Famous As: Chemist, Biochemist, Professor
Birthdate: August 27, 1928
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kyoto

 37 Jerzy Buzek

Jerzy Buzek
3
Famous As: Politician, Engineer, Chemist, University teacher, Trade unionist
Birthdate: July 3, 1940
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Smilovice

 38 Rudolph A. Marcus

Rudolph A. Marcus
3
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: July 21, 1923
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada

Rudolph A. Marcus redefined science with his Marcus theory, which explained electron transfer reactions and thus threw light on reactions such as photosynthesis. The Canadian-American chemist won a Nobel Prize for his work and also contributed to the transition-state theory. He now teaches at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

 39 Brigitte Boisselier

Brigitte Boisselier
3
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: April 3, 1956
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Langres, France

Brigitte Boisselier leads Clonaid, a company focused on human cloning research. She is also a leader of the quasi-religious Raëlism movement, which believes humans were created by aliens. Although she once announced that Clonaid had successfully cloned a human child, the legal questions surrounding it later silenced her.

 40 Margarita Salas

Margarita Salas
3
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: November 30, 1938
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Valdés, Spain
Died: November 7, 2019

 41 John Polanyi

John Polanyi
2
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: January 23, 1929
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany

John Charles Polanyi is a Hungarian-Canadian scientist, who won the Noble Prize in Chemistry for his contribution to the dynamics of chemical reaction. He developed a technique called infrared chemiluminescence, which helped him to study the exchange of chemical bonds and detail how the excess energy is removed during chemical reactions.

 42 Leo Sternbach

Leo Sternbach
3
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: May 7, 1908
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Opatija, Croatia
Died: September 28, 2005

 43 Susan Solomon

Susan Solomon
2
Famous As: chemist
Birthdate: January 19, 1956
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chicago

 44 Manfred Eigen

Manfred Eigen
2
Famous As: Biophysical Chemist
Birthdate: May 9, 1927
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bochum, Germany

Remembered for his research on rapid chemical reactions, Nobel Prize-winning German physicist Manfred Eigen was born to a musician father and was initially interested in the piano. Eigen was part of the German army during World War II and later escaped the Soviets to join the University of Göttingen.

 45 Koichi Tanaka

Koichi Tanaka
3
Famous As: Chemist, University teacher
Birthdate: August 3, 1959
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Toyama

 46 Bruce Ames

Bruce Ames
2
Famous As: Biochemist, University teacher, Chemist
Birthdate: December 16, 1928
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City

University of California, Berkeley professor, biochemist, and geneticist Bruce Ames is largely known for his invention of the Ames test, used to test the ability of chemicals to cause mutations, and his studies on cancer and ageing. The Cornell and Caltech alumnus has been associated with the NIAMD, too.

 47 George A. Olah

George A. Olah
3
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: May 22, 1927
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: March 8, 2017

Nobel Prize-winning Hungarian-American chemist George A. Olah, part of the scientists’ group The Martians, is best remembered for his pioneering research on carbocations. He moved to Canada during the revolution of 1956, after which he moved to Massachusetts and to Ohio in the U.S., eventually settling in Los Angeles.

 48 Karl Barry Sharpless

Karl Barry Sharpless
2
Famous As: Chemist, University teacher
Birthdate: April 28, 1941
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Philadelphia

 49 Jean-Marie Lehn

Jean-Marie Lehn
2
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: September 30, 1939
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Rosheim, France

French chemist Jean-Marie Lehn is noted for his work on synthesis of cryptands and his early innovation in supramolecular chemistry. Efforts of Lehn, Donald Cram and Charles Pedersen in discovering and determining applications of cryptands and crown ethers, which paved way for launch of the field of supramolecular chemistry, led them to receive the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1987.

 50 Akira Suzuki

Akira Suzuki
2
Famous As: chemist, professor
Birthdate: September 12, 1930
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mukawa