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.

Vote for Your Favourite 21st Century Chemists

 1 
Ahmed Zewail
(Chemist)

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

 2 

Mario J. Molina
2
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.

 3 
Tu Youyou
(chemist, pharmacologist, inventor, university teacher)

Tu Youyou
4
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 
Elias James Corey
(Organic Chemist)

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

 5 
Roald Hoffmann
(Theoretical Chemist)

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

 6 
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.

 7 
Retta
(Stand-up Comedian)

Retta
19
Birthdate: April 12, 1970
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
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 8 
George M. Whitesides
(Chemist and professor of chemistry at Harvard University)

George M. Whitesides
3
Birthdate: August 3, 1939
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Louisville, Kentucky, United States

 9 
Marina Oswald
(Pharmacist)

Marina Oswald
5
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.

 10 

Ilya Prigogine
3
Birthdate: January 25, 1917
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: May 28, 2003

Ilya Prigogine was a physical chemist remembered for his work on irreversibility, complex systems, and dissipative structures. A respected member of several scientific organizations, Prigogine was honored with the Francqui Prize in 1955. In 1976, he won the Rumford Medal for his work concerning irreversible thermodynamics. His work on irreversible thermodynamics earned him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1977.

 11 
Joachim Sauer
(Quantum Chemist and Professor Emeritus of Physical and Theoretical)

Joachim Sauer
5
Birthdate: April 19, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hosena, Senftenberg, Germany

Joachim Sauer is a German professor emeritus of theoretical and physical chemistry at the prestigious Humboldt University of Berlin. Sauer is an active research scientist in computational and quantum chemistry. His work has helped understand the structures and activities of catalysts like zeolites. Joachim Sauer has won several prestigious awards such as the Schrödinger Medal and Liebig Medal.

 12 
Alexander Shulgin
(Rediscoverer of MDMA)

Alexander Shulgin
5
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.

 13 
Michael Levitt
(Physicist, Biologist, Bioinformatician, Chemist, Scientist, Educationist, University teacher)

Michael Levitt
4
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.

 14 

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

Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim is a German chemist, television presenter, science communicator, and YouTuber. A multi-talented personality, Nguyen-Kim has won many prestigious awards such as the Grimme Online Award, Georg von Holtzbrinck Prize for Science Journalism, Hanns Joachim Friedrichs Award, and Heinz Oberhummer Award for Science Communication.

 15 
Ada Yonath
(Scientist)

Ada Yonath
3
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.  

 16 
Tim Hunt
(Biochemist, Chemist)

Tim Hunt
3
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.

 17 
Dan Shechtman
(Chemist)

Dan Shechtman
3
Birthdate: January 24, 1941
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tel Aviv-Yafo, 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
(Chemist, University teacher)

Martyn Poliakoff
4
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 
Catherine Coleman
(Chemist, Air force officer, Astronaut, Engineer)

Catherine Coleman
3
Birthdate: December 14, 1960
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Charleston

 20 

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

 21 
Tomas Lindahl
(Scientist)

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

Tomas Lindahl is a Swedish-British scientist who specializes in cancer research. He is best known as the winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which he received alongside Turkish chemist Aziz Sancar and American chemist Paul L. Modrich. Over the years, Tomas Lindahl has also been honored with other prestigious awards such as the Royal Medal and Copley Medal.

 22 
Ryoji Noyori
(Chemist)

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

 23 
Carl Djerassi
(Contribution to the development of oral contraceptive pills)

Carl Djerassi
3
Birthdate: October 29, 1923
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: January 30, 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 
Aaron Klug
(Chemist & Biophysicist)

Aaron Klug
3
Birthdate: August 11, 1926
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lithuania

 25 
Yuan T. Lee
(Chemist)

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

 26 
Peter Agre
(Chemist, Molecular biologist, Professor)

Peter Agre
3
Birthdate: January 30, 1949
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Northfield

Nobel Prize-winning doctor Peter Agre revolutionized science with his work on the movement of water molecules inside the cell membrane. Born to a chemistry professor, he developed an interest in science early in his life. He was also associated with the medical schools at Johns Hopkins and Duke University.

 27 

Paul J. Crutzen
3
Birthdate: December 3, 1933
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: January 28, 2021

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.

 28 
Robert H. Grubbs
(Former chemist known for Catalysts for olefin metathesis in organic synthesis)

Robert H. Grubbs
3
Birthdate: February 27, 1942
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Marshall County, Kentucky, United States
Died: December 19, 2021

 29 

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

 30 

Jean-Pierre Sauvage
3
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 
Osamu Shimomura
(Chemist, Biochemist, Professor)

Osamu Shimomura
3
Birthdate: August 27, 1928
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kyoto

 32 
Thomas Cech
(Chemist)

Thomas Cech
3
Birthdate: December 8, 1947
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

 33 

Richard R. Ernst
3
Birthdate: August 14, 1933
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Winterthur, Switzerland
Died: June 4, 2021

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.

 34 
Damien Leith
(Singer-songwriter)

Damien Leith
3
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.

 35 
Yusuf Hamied
(Scientist, billionaire businessman and the chairman of Cipla)

Yusuf Hamied
3
Birthdate: July 25, 1936
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Vilnius, Lithuania

 36 

Brigitte Boisselier
3
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.

 37 

Rudolph A. Marcus
3
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.

 38 
John Polanyi
(Chemist)

John Polanyi
2
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.

 39 
Margarita Salas
(Biochemist)

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

 40 

George A. Olah
3
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.

 41 
Manfred Eigen
(Biophysical Chemist)

Manfred Eigen
2
Birthdate: May 9, 1927
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bochum, Germany
Died: February 6, 2019

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.

 42 
Roger D. Kornberg
(biochemist, chemist, university teacher)

Roger D. Kornberg
3
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.

 43 
Susan Solomon
(chemist)

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

 44 
Bruce Ames
(Biochemist, University teacher, Chemist)

Bruce Ames
2
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.

 45 
Jerzy Buzek
(Politician, Engineer, Chemist, University teacher, Trade unionist)

Jerzy Buzek
3
Birthdate: July 3, 1940
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Smilovice

Jerzy Buzek is a Polish politician who served as the Prime Minister of Poland from 31 October 1997 to 19 October 2001. An influential politician, Buzek also served as the President of the European Parliament from 14 July 2009 to 17 January 2012. In 1998 and 2009, political weekly Wprost named Jerzy Buzek Person of the Year for his achievements.

 46 
Karl Barry Sharpless
(Chemist, University teacher)

Karl Barry Sharpless
2
Birthdate: April 28, 1941
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Philadelphia

 47 

Jean-Marie Lehn
2
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.

 48 
Akira Suzuki
(Chemist, Nobel Prize Laureate (2010))

Akira Suzuki
2
Birthdate: September 12, 1930
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mukawa-chō, Japan

 49 
Gerhard Ertl
(Physicist)

Gerhard Ertl
2
Birthdate: October 10, 1936
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bad Cannstatt, Stuttgart, Germany

 50 
Andrus Ansip
(Politician, Chemist, Entrepreneur, Businessperson)

Andrus Ansip
2
Birthdate: October 1, 1956
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tartu