21st Century Scientists

Find out more about the greatest 21st Century Scientists, including Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Larry Page, Richard Dawkins and Sergey Brin.

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 Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson.
17
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: October 5, 1958
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, United States

Public Welfare Medal-winning astrophysicist and academic Neil deGrasse Tyson hosted shows such as NOVA ScienceNow, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, and Star Talk. He is the director of Hayden Planetarium and contributed to the dismissal of Pluto’s status as the ninth planet. He has also written a monthly column as "Merlin.”

 2 Bill Gates

Bill Gates.
5
Famous As: Co-Founder of Microssoft
Birthdate: October 28, 1955
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, United States

Leading American technologist, business leader and philanthropist, Bill Gates is the co-founder of the world’s largest software company, Microsoft. His passion for computers made him one of the richest in the world and through his charity foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, he and his ex-wife, Melinda, use this money generously to help people world over live a better life.

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 3 Steve Wozniak

Steve Wozniak.
5
Famous As: Co-founder of Apple Computer (Apple Inc.)
Birthdate: August 11, 1950
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: San Jose, California, United States

Widely recognized as one of the two important pioneers of the personal computer revolution, Steve Wozniak is credited with co-founding Apple Inc. along with Steve Jobs. Not surprisingly, he has been described as one of the men that changed the course of history through technology. Apart from being a programmer and technology entrepreneur, Steve Wozniak is also a well-known philanthropist.

 4 Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins.
7
Famous As: Evolutionary Biologist
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.

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 5 Terence Tao

Terence Tao.
12
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: July 17, 1975
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Adelaide, Australia

Terence Tao is an Australian-American mathematician who works at the University of California, Los Angeles as a professor of mathematics. Widely considered one of the most prominent living mathematicians, Tao was honored with the prestigious Fields Medal in 2006. In 2014, he was awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics.

 6 Claude Shannon

Claude Shannon.
4
Famous As: Mathematician, Cryptographer
Birthdate: April 30, 1916
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Petoskey, Michigan, United States
Died: February 24, 2001

Claude Shannon was an electrical engineer, mathematician, and cryptographer. He is credited with publishing the article A Mathematical Theory of Communication which gave rise to the field of information theory. Hence, Shannon is considered the father of information theory. He is also credited with founding digital circuit design theory. During World War II, he contributed to the field of cryptanalysis.

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 7 Grigori Perelman

Grigori Perelman.
9
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: June 13, 1966
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Russian mathematician Grigori Perelman is best known for his work on geometry, especially Riemannian geometry, geometric analysis, and geometric topology. He declined many prizes, such as the Fields Medal and the Millennium Prize. His proof of the Poincaré conjecture was named the Breakthrough of the Year by Science magazine.
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 8 Vint Cerf

Vint Cerf.
4
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: June 23, 1943
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New Haven, Connecticut, United States
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 9 John Horton Conway

John Horton Conway
8
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: December 26, 1937
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Liverpool, England
Died: April 11, 2020

Remembered as versatile mathematician, game wizard and polymath, John Horton Conway had limitless curiosity, which matched with his scientific originality. Although he is best known for devising the cellular automation called Game of Life, he made significant contributions to group theory, number theory, algebra, geometric topology, theoretical physics, combinatorial game theory and geometry. Conway published many outstanding papers in these fields.

 10 Dennis Ritchie

Dennis Ritchie.
9
Famous As: Computer Scientist
Birthdate: September 9, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bronxville, New York, United States
Died: October 12, 2011

Computer scientist, Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie, worked at Bell Labs Computing Sciences Research Center for most of his career, co-developing the Unix operating system and B programming language with Kenneth Thompson, co-winning the 1983 A.M. Turing Award for it. Earlier, he had also created C programming language and was involved with the development of the Plan 9 and Inferno operating systems.

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 11 Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson.
33
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: August 26, 1918
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, United States
Died: February 24, 2020
Katherine Johnson was a physicist and mathematician, remembered as the first African-American female NASA scientist. Her calculations helped launch the space missions of Alan Shepard and John Glenn. She was crucial to the Apollo program and won a Congressional Gold Medal and a Presidential Medal of Freedom for her achievements.

 12 Steve Irwin

Steve Irwin.
4
Famous As: Television Personality
Birthdate: February 22, 1962
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Upper Ferntree Gully, Victoria, Australia
Died: September 4, 2006

Australian Steve Irwin was a world famous, high-spirited, lively host of The Crocodile Hunter television series. A conservationist, he was also part of other shows and documentaries on wildlife and environment. He was known for close encounters with some of the most dangerous and endangered animals in various jungles. He died after being pierced in the chest by a stingray barb while filming in Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

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 13 Ken Thompson

Ken Thompson.
9
Famous As: Computer Scientist
Birthdate: February 4, 1943
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

 14 Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall.
4
Famous As: Primatologist
Birthdate: April 3, 1934
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London, England

Jane Goodall is an English anthropologist and primatologist. Goodall's research proved that chimpanzees could use tools like stalks of grass to fish out termites from termite holes; this also challenged the long-held belief that chimpanzees were vegetarians. Goodall also discovered that chimpanzees are capable of emotions like sorrow and joy. Goodall is also credited with founding the Jane Goodall Institute.

 15 Peter Higgs

Peter Higgs
4
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: May 29, 1929
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne, England

Peter Higgs is a British theoretical physicist. He studied at King's College London and was awarded a Ph.D. in 1954. He went on to have a brilliant academic career and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1983. In 2013, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Belgian physicist François Englert.  

 16 Vera Rubin

Vera Rubin
4
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: July 23, 1928
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: December 25, 2016

American astronomer Vera Rubin is best known for her pioneering discoveries on galaxy rotation rates, her groundbreaking work confirming the existence of dark matter and for her life-long advocacy for women in science. She studied the galactic rotation curves and provided strong evidence of the existence of dark matter. The Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile is named after her.

 17 Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey.
4
Famous As: Zoologist, Conservationist
Birthdate: January 16, 1932
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: December 26, 1985
Zoologist, primatologist, and conservationist Dian Fossey conducted research on mountain gorillas in Rwanda from 1966 until she was murdered in 1985. She was part of the Trimates assigned to study apes by paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey. She wrote Gorillas in the Mist, which was later turned into a film.

 18 Mary Jackson

Mary Jackson
7
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: April 9, 1921
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hampton, Virginia, United States
Died: February 11, 2005

American mathematician and aerospace engineer Mary Jackson went down in history as the first African-American woman to work as a NASA engineer. Initially a math teacher, she later joined NACA under Dorothy Vaughan and contributed to countless American space programs at a time when racial segregation was the norm.

 19 Juliane Koepcke

Juliane Koepcke.
5
Famous As: Lone Survivor of 1971 LANSA Plane Crash
Birthdate: October 10, 1954
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lima, Peru
Juliane Koepcke is a German Peruvian mammalogist. She is well-known for being the only survivor of the Líneas Aéreas Nacionales S.A. Flight 508 plane crash; she survived ten days in the Amazon rainforest after surviving a fall of 9843 feet while strapped to her airplane seat. Her story inspired films like Miracles Still Happen (1974) and Wings of Hope (1998).

 20 Dorothy Vaughan

Dorothy Vaughan
28
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: September 20, 1910
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Died: November 10, 2008

American mathematician Dorothy Vaughan was also known as a "human computer." Initially a math teacher, she became the first African-American supervisor of NACA, later part of NASA, at a time when racial segregation was rampant in the U.S. Her contribution to the early American space programs is invaluable.

 21 James Watson

James Watson.
10
Famous As: Molecular Biologist
Birthdate: April 6, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

James Watson is a geneticist, molecular biologist, and zoologist. He is credited with co-authoring the academic paper that propounded the double helix structure of nucleic acids such as DNA for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962. In 1977, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1997, he was awarded the National Medal of Science.

 22 Roger Penrose

Roger Penrose.
11
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: August 8, 1931
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Colchester, England

Roger Penrose’s contribution to the research related to the black hole and general relativity earned him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2020. The Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at Oxford, Roger is also a fellow of Wadham College, St John's College of Cambridge, and University College London.

 23 Brian Cox

Brian Cox
12
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: March 3, 1968
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Oldham, Lancashire, England

Brian Cox is an English physicist and former musician. He has presented numerous science programs for BBC radio and TV, especially the Wonders of... series. He is also the author of several popular science books. He has been lauded for his efforts to publicize science and was awarded the British Association's Lord Kelvin Award in 2006. 

 24 Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee.
24
Famous As: Inventor of the World Wide Web
Birthdate: June 8, 1955
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England

Widely known as ten inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee made the first communication between an HTTP client and server through the internet in 1989. He is associated with various organizations, such as the W3C and the World Wide Web Foundation, and has received the knighthood, too.

 25 Retta

Retta
9
Famous As: Stand-up Comedian
Birthdate: April 12, 1970
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, U.S.

 26 Eduardo Saverin

Eduardo Saverin.
9
Famous As: Entrepreneur
Birthdate: March 19, 1982
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: São Paulo, State of São Paulo, Brazil

Born into an affluent Jewish Brazilian family, Eduardo Saverin co-founded Facebook with his Harvard roommate Mark Zuckerberg and others in 2004. He was later involved in a lawsuit against Zuckerberg. He also renounced his U.S. citizenship and moved to Singapore, which some believe was his excuse to avoid paying taxes.

 27 Beck Weathers

Beck Weathers
6
Famous As: Pathologist
Birthdate: December 16, 1946
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Texas, United States

 28 Freeman Dyson

Freeman Dyson
8
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: December 15, 1923
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Crowthorne, England
Died: February 28, 2020

Freeman Dyson was a British-American theoretical and mathematical physicist, mathematician, and statistician. He made major contributions in the fields of quantum field theory, astrophysics, random matrices, quantum mechanics, and nuclear physics. He originated the concept that went on to be known as Dyson's transform. He received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement in 1986. 

 29 Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond.
6
Famous As: Scientist & Author
Birthdate: September 10, 1937
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

 30 Jennifer Doudna

Jennifer Doudna
4
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: February 19, 1964
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

American biochemist Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, who has made fundamental contributions in biochemistry and genetics, is best-known for her pioneering work in CRISPR gene-editing. Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier received the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing a method for genome editing through CRISPR, marking them as the only two women to share science Nobel ever.

 31 Andre Geim

Andre Geim
3
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: October 21, 1958
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sochi, Russia

Andre Geim is a Russian-born Dutch-British physicist. He has been associated with the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester for several years. In 2010, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with Konstantin Novoselov in recognition of his work on graphene. He is also a recipient of the 2000 Ig Nobel Prize in Physics. 

 32 Eric Weinstein

Eric Weinstein
8
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: October 26, 1965
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

Apart from being the MD of Thiel Capital, mathematician and economist Eric Weinstein is also a researcher at Oxford. The Harvard alumnus had quit academia for 20 years before he returned again. He coined the term “intellectual dark web” and works on topics such as gauge theory, risk management, and immigration.

 33 Margaret Hamilton

Margaret Hamilton
8
Famous As: Computer Scientist
Birthdate: August 17, 1936
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paoli, Indiana, United States

Credited with coining the term software engineering, computer scientist and systems engineer, Margaret Heafield Hamilton served as the Director of the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, overseeing the development of the on-board flight software for NASA's Apollo program.  A prolific writer, she is also the founder of two software companies; Higher Order Software and Hamilton Technologies.

 34 Bill Oddie

Bill Oddie
5
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 7, 1941
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Rochdale, Lancashire, England, UK

 35 Francis Collins

Francis Collins
4
Famous As: Geneticist
Birthdate: April 14, 1950
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Staunton, Virginia, U.S.

American physician-geneticist Francis Collins is known for his discovery of the genes related with several diseases and for leading the Human Genome Project while serving as director of NHGRI. Recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science, Collins wrote the New York Times bestseller The Language of God and presently serves as director of the NIH.

 36 Sal Khan

Sal Khan
12
Famous As: Teacher
Birthdate: October 11, 1976
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Metairie, Louisiana, U.S.

What began as amateur math tutorials for his cousin later became Sal Khan’s dream project, the online education platform Khan Academy, which now has over 42 million users worldwide. Named to Time 100 in 2012, the American-born Bengali former hedge fund analyst is an MIT and Harvard alumnus.

 37 Sergey Brin

Sergey Brin.
20
Famous As: Computer scientist
Birthdate: August 21, 1973
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Moscow
Google co-founder Sergey Brin also served as the president of Alphabet Inc. The seventh-richest person in the world as of 2020, Brin earlier dropped his PhD plans at Stanford, following which he and Larry Page launched Google in a garage. He is a devoted philanthropist and a Democratic Party donor.

 38 Sylvia Earle

Sylvia Earle
9
Famous As: Marine biologist
Birthdate: August 30, 1935
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Gibbstown, New Jersey, U.S.
Sylvia Earle is known for her research on marine algae and she was the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Earle held the world record for the deepest untethered dive and was named by Time Magazine as its first Hero for the Planet, in 1998. She also featured in Netflix Original documentary Seaspiracy.

 39 Donna Strickland

Donna Strickland
4
Famous As: Optical physicist
Birthdate: May 27, 1959
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Guelph, Canada

Donna Strickland is a Canadian optical physicist who is considered a pioneer in the field of pulsed lasers. In recognition of her research on the practical implementation of chirped pulse amplification, she was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018, together with Gérard Mourou. She is currently a professor at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. 

 40 Richard Stallman

Richard Stallman.
9
Famous As: Software Programmer
Birthdate: March 16, 1953
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City

Computer programmer and free-software activist Richard Stallman established the Free Software Foundation. The Harvard and MIT alumnus led the free GNU project, aimed at creating a UNIX-like operating system. He was later dragged into a controversy when he dismissed a sexual assault victim’s allegation against Jeffrey Epstein.

 41 Niklaus Wirth

Niklaus Wirth
3
Famous As: Computer Scientist
Birthdate: February 15, 1934
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Winterthur, Switzerland

 42 Kathy Reichs

Kathy Reichs
6
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 7, 1948
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA

Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropologist, academic, and crime writer. She has been certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology and is an adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina. She is the author of numerous technical books and has also written many novels. She also produced the TV series Bones, based on her works. 

 43 Jerry Buss

Jerry Buss
6
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: January 27, 1933
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Died: February 18, 2013

 44 Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
5
Famous As: Business woman
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.

 45 Arthur D. Levinson

Arthur D. Levinson.
6
Famous As: Microbiologist
Birthdate: March 31, 1950
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, United States

 46 Sonny Perdue

Sonny Perdue
7
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: December 20, 1946
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Perry, Georgia, USA

Sonny Perdue is an American businessman, veterinarian, and politician. From 2017 to 2021, he served as the United States Secretary of Agriculture. He also served as the 81st Governor of Georgia and became the first Republican to serve in that position since the Reconstruction era. Sonny Perdue is also credited with founding an agricultural trading company called AGrowStar.

 47 Jim Cantore

Jim Cantore
5
Famous As: Meteorologists
Birthdate: February 16, 1964
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Beacon Falls, Connecticut, USA
Best known for his long stint on The Weather Channel, meteorologist Jim Cantore has gained fame for making his weather reports interesting to even a lay person. He has hosted weather segments for the 2012 Summer Olympics and is also known for his authentic storm reports, which have often become viral.

 48 Piers Corbyn

Piers Corbyn
4
Famous As: Meteorologist
Birthdate: March 10, 1947
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chippenham, Wiltshire, England

 49 Donald Knuth

Donald Knuth.
14
Famous As: Computer Scientist
Birthdate: January 10, 1938
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

Mathematician and computer scientist Donald Ervin Knuth is best known for his contribution to the development of the rigorous analysis of the computational complexity of algorithms. Also the creator of the TeX computer typesetting system as well as the WEB and CWEB computer programming systems, he has published twenty books, most significant among them being The Art of Computer Programming.

 50 Barbara Liskov

Barbara Liskov
3
Famous As: Computer scientist
Birthdate: November 7, 1939
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States