Famous Australian Scientists

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.

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 Terence Tao

Terence Tao
13
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.

 2 Howard Florey

Howard Florey
3
Famous As: Pathologist and Pharmacologist
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

Elizabeth Blackburn
4
Famous As: American-Australian researcher
Birthdate: November 26, 1948
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hobart, Tasmania, 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

Douglas Mawson
3
Famous As: Explorer, Geologist
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

Barry Marshall
6
Famous As: Australian physician
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 Owsley Stanley

Owsley Stanley
9
Famous As: key figure in the San Francisco Bay Area hippie movement during the 1960s
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.

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 7 Mark Oliphant

Mark Oliphant
3
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: October 8, 1901
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kent Town
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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 8 Akshay Venkatesh

Akshay Venkatesh
4
Famous As: Mathematician
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.

 9 John Cornforth

John Cornforth
3
Famous As: Nobel Prize Winner Chemist
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.

 10 Peter C. Doherty

Peter C. Doherty
3
Famous As: Scientist, Nobel Prize Winner
Birthdate: 0000 AD
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.

 11 Brian Schmidt

Brian Schmidt
4
Famous As: Vice-Chancellor
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.

 12 Tim Flannery

Tim Flannery
5
Famous As: Biologist, Paleontologist, Zoologist, Environmentalist
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.

 13 Sir John Eccles

Sir John Eccles
3
Famous As: Neurophysiologist
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.

 14 Rodney Brooks

Rodney Brooks
3
Famous As: Roboticist
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.

 15 Bill Mollison

Bill Mollison
3
Famous As: scientist, naturalist, psychologist
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.  

 16 Ian Frazer

Ian Frazer
2
Famous As: Australian scientist
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.     

 17 Robin Warren

Robin Warren
2
Famous As: Australian pathologist
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.

 18 Ian Plimer

Ian Plimer
3
Famous As: Geologist
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.

 19 Andrew Tridgell

Andrew Tridgell
2
Famous As: Engineer, Programmer, Computer scientist
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.

 20 Damien Leith

Damien Leith
2
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.

 21 Hubert Wilkins

Hubert Wilkins
2
Famous As: Explorer
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.

 22 Frank Fenner

Frank Fenner
2
Famous As: Played a vital role in eradication of smallpox and control of Australia's rabbit plague
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.

 23 Gustav Nossal

Gustav Nossal
2
Famous As: Immunologist
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.

 24 Ferdinand von Mueller

Ferdinand von Mueller
2
Famous As: Botanist and Geographer
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. 

 25 Frank Macfarlane Burnet

Frank Macfarlane Burnet
1
Famous As: Virologist & Noble Prize Laureate
Birthdate: September 3, 1899
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Traralgon
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. 

 26 Edgeworth David

Edgeworth David
2
Famous As: Geologist
Birthdate: January 28, 1858
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: near Cardiff or Saint Fagan’s rectory, Wales
Died: August 28, 1934

 27 Derek Abbott

Derek Abbott
2
Famous As: Physicist
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.

 28 William Farrer

William Farrer
1
Famous As: Agronomist
Birthdate: April 3, 1845
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Docker, Westmorland, England
Died: April 16, 1906

 29 Walter Baldwin Spencer

Walter Baldwin Spencer
1
Famous As: Anthropologist
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.

 30 David Karoly

David Karoly
1
Famous As: Australian scientist
Birthdate: July 12, 1955
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

 31 Edwin Ernest Salpeter

Edwin Ernest Salpeter
1
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: December 3, 1924
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: November 26, 2008

 32 Ken Freeman

Ken Freeman
1
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: August 27, 1940
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Perth, Australia

 33 John Gatenby Bolton

John Gatenby Bolton
1
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: June 5, 1922
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Sheffield, England
Died: July 6, 1993

 34 Richard Dalitz

Richard Dalitz
1
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: February 28, 1925
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dimboola, Australia
Died: January 13, 2006

 35 Eric Burhop

Eric Burhop
0
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: January 31, 1911
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hobart, Australia
Died: January 22, 1980

 36 Phillip Law

Phillip Law
0
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: April 21, 1912
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tallangatta, Australia
Died: February 28, 2010

 37 Shane Broad

Shane Broad
0
Famous As: Politician, Rower
Birthdate: August 21, 1974
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Burnie, Tasmania, Australia

 38 Geoffrey H. Bourne

Geoffrey H. Bourne
0
Famous As: Anatomist
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.

 39 Ross H. McKenzie

Ross H. McKenzie
0
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: December 15, 1960
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia

 40 Ralph Slatyer

Ralph Slatyer
0
Famous As: Ecologist
Birthdate: April 16, 1929
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Perth, Australia
Died: July 26, 2012

 41 Arthur Robert Hogg

Arthur Robert Hogg
0
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: November 25, 1903
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Melbourne, Australia
Died: March 31, 1966

 42 Henry Harris

Henry Harris
0
Famous As: Biologist
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.

 43 Surrey Jacobs

Surrey Jacobs
0
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: April 29, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia
Died: November 26, 2009

 44 Bruce Edward Hobbs

Bruce Edward Hobbs
0
Famous As: Geologist
Birthdate: October 23, 1936
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia

 45 Alf Howard

Alf Howard
0
Famous As: Explorer, Scientist
Birthdate: April 30, 1906
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Camberwell, Australia
Died: July 4, 2010

 46 Dorothy Hill

Dorothy Hill
0
Famous As: Geologist, Paleontologist
Birthdate: September 10, 1907
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Died: April 23, 1997

 47 Isobel Bennett

Isobel Bennett
0
Famous As: Biologist, Marine biologist
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.

 48 Martin Dougiamas

Martin Dougiamas
0
Famous As: Businessperson
Birthdate: August 20, 1969
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Western Australia, Australia

 49 Lionel Logue

Lionel Logue
0
Famous As: Former Speech therapist to King George VI
Birthdate: February 26, 1880
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: College Park, Australia
Died: April 12, 1953