Famous Australian Scientists

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Think Thomas Alva Edison, Louis Pasteur, Marie Curie, and Sir Isaac Newton are the only superstars of science the world has ever produced? If yes, think again. Over the years, the world has produced a slew of curious men and women, who by virtue of their inquisitiveness and insatiable hunger for truth and knowledge has led the world to some trailblazing advancement that altered the way we think and operate today. Such an enlightened lot of people, whom the world reveres as scientists, have altered the course of human history with their groundbreaking inventions and discoveries. While nations like United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Sweden rules the roost when it comes to producing the highest number of scientists, country like Australia with relatively small population hasn’t done too badly for itself, making a remarkable number of important inventions in the last 200 years. Not to forget, down south has given the world extraordinary scientists and inventors like Elizabeth Blackwell, Dorothy Hill, Graeme Clark, Frank Fenner and more. Read the biographies to learn all about the timelines, life stories and interesting trivia & facts related to the lives of some of the most famous Australian scientists.
Vote for Your Favourite Australian Scientists
 1 
Terri Irwin
(Naturalist Who is The Owner of Australia Zoo in 'Beerwah, Queensland')
Terri Irwin
8
Birthdate: July 20, 1964
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Eugene, Oregon, United States

American–Australian naturalist Terri Irwin is best known as the co-host of The Crocodile Hunter, along with her husband, the late animal expert Steve Irwin. She has also been part of shows such as Croc Files and Crikey! It's the Irwins, and helped in the development of Australia Zoo.

 2 
Howard Florey
(Pathologist and Pharmacologist)
Howard Florey
6
Birthdate: September 24, 1898
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Adelaide, Australia
Died: February 21, 1968

Howard Florey was an Australian pathologist and pharmacologist. He is best remembered for his role in the formation of penicillin, for which he shared the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Alexander Fleming and Ernst Chain in the year 1945. Florey is credited with carrying out the first clinical trial of penicillin at the Radcliffe Infirmary in 1941.

 3 
Elizabeth Blackburn
7
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.

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 4 
Douglas Mawson
(Explorer, Geologist)
Douglas Mawson
4
Birthdate: May 5, 1882
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Shipley
Died: October 14, 1958

Douglas Mawson was an Australian Antarctic explorer, geologist, and academic. Counted among the most important leaders of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, Mawson was honored with a knighthood in 1914. Best remembered for his contribution to Australian geology, Mawson was featured on the Australian one-hundred-dollar note from 1984 to 1996.

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 5 
Barry Marshall
(Australian physician)
Barry Marshall
9
Birthdate: September 30, 1951
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kalgoorlie, Western Australia

Nobel Prize-winning Australian physician Barry Marshall, along with his colleague Robin Warren, proved that gastric ulcers were caused by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori and not by spicy food and other causes as previously believed. Their research made it possible to cure such ulcers by treating the bacteria with antibiotics.

 6 
Mark Oliphant
(Physicist)
Mark Oliphant
5
Birthdate: October 8, 1901
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Adelaide, Australia
Died: July 14, 2000

Mark Oliphant was an Australian humanitarian and physicist who played a prominent role in the first experimentation of nuclear fusion. He also played an influential role in the development of nuclear weapons. Oliphant is credited with founding the Australian Academy of Science. Over the course of his illustrious career, Mark Oliphant received several prestigious awards, such as the Hughes Medal.

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 7 
Fred Hollows
(Ophthalmologist)
Fred Hollows
3
Birthdate: April 9, 1929
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dunedin, New Zealand
Died: February 10, 1993

Fred Hollows became a renowned name in the field of ophthalmology after helping thousands of people see by restoring their sight. Born in New Zealand, Hollows later became an Australian citizen. He had initially aspired to join the clergy but had decided against it after visiting a mental institution.

 8 
Owsley Stanley
(Audio Engineer and Key Figure in the San Francisco Bay Area 'Hippie Movement' During the 1960s)
Owsley Stanley
12
Birthdate: January 19, 1935
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kentucky, United States
Died: March 12, 2011

Owsley Stanley was an American clandestine chemist and audio engineer. During the 1960s Stanley played an important role in the Bay Area hippie movement and the counterculture of the decade. As the sound engineer of the Grateful Dead, Stanley developed the band's famous Wall of Sound, one of the largest transportable public address systems ever built.

 9 
Susan Powter
(Motivational Speaker, Nutritionist & Author)
Susan Powter
4
Birthdate: December 22, 1957
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia

Susan Powter moved from Australia to the U.S. with her parents at 10. While coping with her first divorce, she had gained weight, which eventually motivated her to become a fitness enthusiast. Now a prominent nutritionist, fitness blogger, and talk-show host, she is known for her catchphrase "Stop the Insanity!"

Sir William Lawrence Bragg
4
Birthdate: March 31, 1890
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Adelaide, Australia
Died: July 1, 1971

Born to a math and physics professor in Australia, Sir William Lawrence Bragg later moved to England, where his father was posted for work. He and his father jointly won the Nobel Prize for Physics for their research on X-ray diffraction through crystals. Bragg was an avid shell collector, too.

 11 
John Cornforth
3
Birthdate: September 7, 1917
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia
Died: December 8, 2013

John Cornforth was an Australian-British chemist who became the first Nobel laureate from New South Wales when he was honored with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1975. Over the course of his career, Cornforth also won other prestigious awards like the Royal Medal, Copley Medal, and Centenary Medal. In 1975, he was adjudged the Australian of the Year.

 12 
Peter C. Doherty
(Scientist, Nobel Prize Winner)
Peter C. Doherty
4
Birthplace: Brisbane, Australia

Peter C. Doherty is an Australian veterinary surgeon whose work and research on the immune system earned him the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. In 1997, he was adjudged Australian of the Year. Over the course of his illustrious career, Doherty has received several other prestigious awards, such as the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research.

 13 
Lionel Logue
(Former Speech therapist to King George VI)
Lionel Logue
2
Birthdate: February 26, 1880
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: College Park, Australia
Died: April 12, 1953
 14 
Tim Flannery
(Biologist, Paleontologist, Zoologist, Environmentalist)
Tim Flannery
5
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.

 15 
Akshay Venkatesh
(Australian Mathematician, Child Prodigy Who Won Both Physics and Mathematical Olympiad at the Age of 12)
Akshay Venkatesh
6
Birthdate: November 21, 1981
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: New Delhi, India

Akshay Venkatesh is an Australian mathematician who became only the second person of Indian origin and the second Australian to win the prestigious Fields Medalwhich is also referred to as the Nobel Prize for Math. He won the medal in 2018 for his synthesis of representation theory, analytic number theory, topology, and homogeneous dynamics.

 16 
Sir John Eccles
(Neurophysiologist)
Sir John Eccles
3
Birthdate: January 27, 1903
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Melbourne, Australia
Died: May 2, 1997

Sir John Eccles was a philosopher and neurophysiologist whose services to physiological research earned him the title of Knight Bachelor in 1958. His work on the synapse earned him the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which he shared with Alan Lloyd Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley in 1963. The same year, he also received the Australian of the Year Award.

 17 
Rodney Brooks
(Australian Computer Scientist, Artificial Intelligence Scientist, and Designer of Mobile Autonomous Robots)
Rodney Brooks
3
Birthdate: December 30, 1954
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Adelaide, Australia

Australian-American roboticist Rodney Brooks is known for popularizing the concept of behavioral robotics and making autonomous robots. The Stanford alumnus has also been associated with Carnegie Mellon University and MIT. Allen and Baxter remain two of his most popular intelligent robots. He also designed Cog, a robot meant to learn through interaction.

 18 
Bill Mollison
(scientist, naturalist, psychologist)
Bill Mollison
3
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.  

 19 
Brian Schmidt
(Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University (ANU))
Brian Schmidt
4
Birthdate: February 24, 1967
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Missoula, Montana, United States

Nobel Prize-winning astronomer Brian Schmidt is best known for discovering what is known as dark energy of the universe. Born in the US, the Harvard alumnus later moved to Australia for his work. He has taught at the Australian National University and is now the university’s vice chancellor.

 20 
Ian Plimer
(Geologist)
Ian Plimer
3
Birthdate: February 12, 1946
Sun Sign: Aquarius

Australian geologist Ian Plimer taught mining geology and earth sciences at institutes such as the University of Adelaide. Apart from publishing over 120 research papers, he has also been a co-editor of the five-volume Encyclopedia of Geology and has penned the award-winning A Short History of Planet Earth.

 21 
Ian Frazer
(Australian scientist)
Ian Frazer
2
Birthdate: January 6, 1953
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland

Ian Frazer is an immunologist who is credited with developing the technology behind the HPV vaccine. He is also credited with founding the Translational Research Institute, which aims at transforming scientific discoveries into useful applications for practice. Over the years, Frazer has received several prestigious awards, including the Australian Biotechnology Award.     

 22 
Robin Warren
(Australian pathologist)
Robin Warren
2
Birthdate: June 11, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Adelaide, Australia

Robin Warren is an Australian pathologist best known for re-discovering the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Along with Barry J. Marshall, Warren proved that Helicobacter pylori causes stomach ulcers. In 2005, he won the prestigious Nobel Prize in Medicine, which he shared with Marshall. Their Nobel Prize-winning work became the subject of a documentary titled The Winner's Guide to the Nobel Prize.

 23 
Andrew Tridgell
(Engineer, Programmer, Computer scientist)
Andrew Tridgell
2
Birthdate: February 28, 1967
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sydney

Australian programmer Andrew Tridgell is best known for developing the compression program software Rzip. He also co-invented the rsync algorithm and has contributed to the Samba file server. A doctorate degree holder from the Australian National University, he had initially also worked on speech recognition.

 24 
Damien Leith
(Singer-songwriter)
Damien Leith
2
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.

 25 
Hubert Wilkins
(Australian Polar Explorer, Ornithologist, Pilot, Soldier, Geographer and Photographer)
Hubert Wilkins
2
Birthdate: October 31, 1888
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Mount Bryan, Australia
Died: November 30, 1958

Australian-born British explorer and ornithologist Hubert Wilkins is best remembered for pioneering the use of the submarine for polar exploration. While he initially studied photography and engineering, he later embarked on the world’s first transpolar airplane flight across the Arctic and the first over parts of Antarctica.

 26 
Frank Fenner
(Scientist)
Frank Fenner
2
Birthdate: December 21, 1914
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ballarat, Australia
Died: November 22, 2010

Frank Fenner was an Australian scientist best remembered for his achievements in the field of virology. He played a key role in the eradication of smallpox. He is also credited with introducing the Myxoma virus, which played a major role in controlling Australia's rabbit plague. During his illustrious career, Fenner was honored with prestigious awards, such as the WHO Medal.

 27 
Gustav Nossal
(Immunologist)
Gustav Nossal
2
Birthdate: June 4, 1931
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bad Ischl, Austria

Renowned immunologist Gustav Nossal was born in Vienna but later moved with his family to Australia to escape the Nazi reign. A University of Melbourne professor, he was later knighted for his work. He has also passionately worked to ensure the public health of marginalized communities.

 28 
Frank Macfarlane Burnet
1
Birthdate: September 3, 1899
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Traralgon, Australia
Died: August 31, 1985

Frank Macfarlane Burnet was an Australian virologist. Best remembered for his contribution to immunology, Burnet won the 1960 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for predicting acquired immunological tolerance. Burnet is also credited with developing and popularizing the theory of clonal selection. In 1960, he was also named the Australian of the Year for his contributions to science. 

 29 
Ferdinand von Mueller
(Physician & Geographer)
Ferdinand von Mueller
2
Birthdate: June 30, 1825
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Rostock, Germany
Died: October 10, 1896

Ferdinand von Mueller was a German-Australian geographer, physician, and botanist. He is credited with founding the National Herbarium of Victoria, the oldest scientific institution in Victoria. He is also credited with naming several Australian plants. Such is his popularity that many plants, animals, journals, and places in Australia are named after him. 

 30 
Derek Abbott
(Physicist)
Derek Abbott
2
Birthdate: May 3, 1960
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: South Kensington, London, England

British-Australian physicist and engineer Derek Abbott also teaches at the University of Adelaide. He has been associated with many scientific journals and has also been featured in publications such as The New York Times. Abbott also worked on the baffling Somerton Man case, which remains unsolved to this day.

 31 
Dorothy Hill
(Geologist, Paleontologist)
Dorothy Hill
0
Birthdate: September 10, 1907
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Died: April 23, 1997
 32 
Edgeworth David
(Geologist)
Edgeworth David
2
Birthdate: January 28, 1858
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: near Cardiff or Saint Fagan’s rectory, Wales
Died: August 28, 1934
 33 
Walter Baldwin Spencer
(Anthropologist)
Walter Baldwin Spencer
1
Birthdate: June 23, 1860
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Stretford, England
Died: July 14, 1929

English biologist and anthropologist Walter Baldwin Spencer is remembered for his pioneering study of the indigenous population of Australia. He initially taught biology but later drifted to anthropology. He was also knighted but died while on an expedition to study the Ushuaia of the Tierra del Fuego.

 34 
William Farrer
(Agronomist)
William Farrer
1
Birthdate: April 3, 1845
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Docker, Westmorland, England
Died: April 16, 1906
 35 
Edwin Ernest Salpeter
(Astrophysicist)
Edwin Ernest Salpeter
1
Birthdate: December 3, 1924
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: November 26, 2008
 36 
David Karoly
(Australian scientist)
David Karoly
1
Birthdate: July 12, 1955
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
 37 
Henry Harris
(Biologist)
Henry Harris
0
Birthdate: January 28, 1925
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Russia
Died: October 31, 2014

Henry Harris was an Australian professor and scientist who taught at the University of Oxford. He is best remembered for his pioneering work on human genetics and cancer during the 2000s. Henry Harris was knighted in 1993 for his contribution to science.

 38 
Ken Freeman
(Astronomer)
Ken Freeman
1
Birthdate: August 27, 1940
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Perth, Australia
 39 
John Gatenby Bolton
1
Birthdate: June 5, 1922
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Sheffield, England
Died: July 6, 1993
 40 
Richard Dalitz
(Physicist)
Richard Dalitz
1
Birthdate: February 28, 1925
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dimboola, Australia
Died: January 13, 2006
 41 
Isobel Bennett
(Biologist, Marine biologist)
Isobel Bennett
0
Birthdate: July 9, 1909
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Brisbane, Australia
Died: January 12, 2008

Isobel Bennett was an Australian marine biologist best remembered for assisting William John Dakin with his famous book Australian Seashores. One of the most celebrated Australian marine biologists of all time, Bennett played an important role in popularizing the book after Dakin's demise in 1950. She also wrote several other influential books, such as Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

 42 
Eric Burhop
(Physicist)
Eric Burhop
0
Birthdate: January 31, 1911
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hobart, Australia
Died: January 22, 1980
 43 
Shane Broad
(Politician, Rower)
Shane Broad
0
Birthdate: August 21, 1974
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Burnie, Tasmania, Australia
 44 
Alf Howard
(Explorer, Scientist)
Alf Howard
1
Birthdate: April 30, 1906
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Camberwell, Australia
Died: July 4, 2010
 45 
Phillip Law
(Scientist)
Phillip Law
0
Birthdate: April 21, 1912
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tallangatta, Australia
Died: February 28, 2010
 46 
Geoffrey H. Bourne
0
Birthdate: November 17, 1909
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Perth, Australia
Died: July 19, 1988

Geoffrey H. Bourne was an Australian-American primatologist and anatomist. He is best remembered for his pioneering work in histochemistry. From 1962 to 1978, Bourne served as the director of Emory University's Yerkes National Primate Research Center. He also taught physiology and histology at Oxford University and the University of London respectively.

 47 
Ross H. McKenzie
(Physicist)
Ross H. McKenzie
0
Birthdate: December 15, 1960
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia
 48 
Ralph Slatyer
(Ecologist)
Ralph Slatyer
0
Birthdate: April 16, 1929
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Perth, Australia
Died: July 26, 2012
 49 
Bruce Edward Hobbs
0
Birthdate: October 23, 1936
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia
 50 
Surrey Jacobs
(Botanist)
Surrey Jacobs
0
Birthdate: April 29, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia
Died: November 26, 2009