Famous Belgian Scientists

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Find out more about the greatest Belgian Scientists, including Georges Lemaître, Ilya Prigogine, Jan Baptist van Helmont, Elio Di Rupo and François Englert.
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 1 
Georges Lemaître
(Scientist & Priest)
Georges Lemaître
9
Birthdate: July 17, 1894
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Charleroi, Belgium
Died: June 20, 1966

Georges Lemaître was a mathematician, astronomer, and professor of physics. Lemaître was the first person to theorize that the expansion of the universe can be used to explain the recession of nearby galaxies. In 1927, Lemaître published the first estimation of the Hubble constant. He also came up with the Big Bang theory to explain the origin of the universe.

 2 
Joseph Plateau
(Belgian Physicist & Mathematician - One of the First People to Demonstrate the Illusion of a Moving Image)
Joseph Plateau
4
Birthdate: October 14, 1801
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brussels
Died: September 15, 1883

Belgian physicist and mathematician Joseph Plateau was a pioneer of the modern animation and movie industry, as he invented the phenakistiscope, the world’s first device to create an illusion of motion through images. He also laid down the structure of soap films through Plateau's laws.

 3 
Leo Baekeland
(Chemist & Inventor)
Leo Baekeland
3
Birthdate: November 14, 1863
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sint-Martens-Latem, Belgium
Died: February 23, 1944

Industrial chemist Leo Baekeland is remembered as The Father of the Plastics Industry for creating Bakelite, the first synthetic plastic of the world, thus marking the beginning of the Polymer Age. His many inventions include Velox, a special photographic paper, the rights of which he sold to George Eastman.

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 4 
Moncef Slaoui
(Moroccan-Born Belgian-American Scientist Who Led Operation Warp Speed)
Moncef Slaoui
0
Birthdate: July 22, 1959
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Agadir, Morocco

Moroccan-born scientist Moncef Slaoui completed his doctoral studies in Belgium and the moved to the US for further research at Harvard. In his career of almost 3 decades at GlaxoSmithKline, he oversaw the development of many vaccines. He later headed Operation Warp Speed, the US government’s initiative to develop COVID-19 vaccines.

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 5 
Ilya Prigogine
(Russian-Belgian Physical Chemist and Winner of the 1977 Nobel Prize for Chemistry)
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.

 6 
Jan Baptista van Helmont
(Belgian Physician and Chemist Who First Identified Carbon Dioxide)
Jan Baptista van Helmont
3
Birthdate: January 12, 1580
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
Died: December 30, 1644

Belgian physician and chemist Jan Baptista van Helmont often considered the founder of pneumatic chemistry, is also said to have used the word “gas” for the first time in the scientific world. He is also said to have been the first to identify gas sylvestre, which later came to be known as carbon dioxide.

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 7 
Ernest Solvay
(Belgian Chemist Who Developed the 'Ammonia-Soda Process' for Making Soda Ash)
Ernest Solvay
2
Birthdate: April 16, 1838
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Rebecq, Belgium
Died: May 26, 1922

Belgian chemist Ernest Solvay began working in his family’s salt-making business soon after finishing school, as his condition of acute pleurisy prevented him from studying any further. He is remembered for developing the ammonia-soda process that produces soda ash, which is crucial to the glass and soap industries.

 8 
Peter Piot
(Belgian-British Microbiologist Known for His Work on AIDS and Ebola)
Peter Piot
3
Birthdate: February 17, 1949
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Leuven, Belgium

Belgian-British microbiologist Peter Piot headed the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, or UNAIDS. He has also served as the United Nations under-secretary-general. In 1976, he helped discover the Ebola virus. He has also penned several books, taught at various institutes, and led the International AIDS Society.

 9 
Simon Stevin
(mathematician, engineer, military personnel)
Simon Stevin
3
Birthdate: 1548 AD
Birthplace: Bruges
Died: January 31, 1620

Simon Stevin was a Flemish physicist, mathematician, and military engineer. He is best remembered for his contributions to various fields of science and engineering. Simon Stevin is also credited with several discoveries and inventions. He pioneered the practical application of surveying and hydraulic engineering. 

 10 
Adolphe Quetelet
(Belgian Astronomer and Mathematician Who Introduced Statistics in Social Sciences)
Adolphe Quetelet
3
Birthdate: February 22, 1796
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ghent
Died: February 17, 1874

Belgian mathematician and astronomer Adolphe Quetelet was the first to introduce the use of statistics and probability theory in social sciences. He also pioneered anthropometry and introduced the BMI scale. He also conducted research on the measurement of the traits found in the average man.

 11 
Jacques Tits
(Belgian-Born French Mathematician Who Worked on 'Group Theory' and 'Incidence Geometry')
Jacques Tits
3
Birthdate: August 12, 1930
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Uccle

Belgian-born French mathematician Jacques Tits was the son of a mathematician and professor and grew up to develop the geometric coding of the algebraic structure of linear groups through Tits buildings. He has won scores of awards, including the prestigious Wolf Prize and the Abel Prize.

 12 
Pierre Deligne
(Belgian Mathematician Known for His Work on 'Algebraic Geometry' and 'Number Theory')
Pierre Deligne
3
Birthdate: October 3, 1944
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Etterbeek

Belgian mathematician Pierre Deligne is known for his pioneering research on algebraic geometry, especially on Weil conjectures. He was awarded the prestigious Fields Medal and the Abel Prize, among other honors, for his achievements. He was made a Belgian viscount and became a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

 13 
Ferdinand Verbiest
(Dutch Jesuit Missionary Who Was Influential in China during the Qing Dynasty)
Ferdinand Verbiest
3
Birthdate: October 9, 1623
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pittem, Belgium
Died: January 28, 1688

Dutch Jesuit missionary and astronomer Ferdinand Verbiest had a huge influence in China during the reign of the Qing dynasty. Also known as Nan Huairen, he advised the Chinese emperor in significant matters and also worked as a translator and a cartographer. He penned several books and knew many languages.

 14 
Ingrid Daubechies
(Mathematician, Physicist best known for her work with wavelets in image compression.)
Ingrid Daubechies
3
Birthdate: August 17, 1954
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Houthalen-Helchteren, Belgium

Belgian-born physicist Ingrid Daubechies was a prodigy of sorts and had started dealing with complicated mathematical concepts before turning 6. She grew up to work at the AT&T Bell Laboratories and also taught at Princeton. She is best known for her research on wavelets and image-compression technology.

 15 
François Englert
(Nobel Prize-Winning Belgian Physicist Who Proposed the Existence of the 'Higgs Field')
François Englert
3
Birthdate: November 6, 1932
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Etterbeek

Nobel Prize-winning Belgian theoretical physicist François Englert, who teaches at Université libre de Bruxelles, is chiefly known for introducing the idea of the Higgs field. He has previously taught at Cornell University. His contribution to the fields of quantum theory, statistical physics, and cosmology has been massive.

 16 
Jean Bourgain
(Belgian Mathematician Remembered for His Work on Mathematical Analysis)
Jean Bourgain
2
Birthdate: February 28, 1954
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ostend, Belgium
Died: December 22, 2018

Fields Medal-winning Belgian mathematician Jean Bourgain is remembered for his pioneering research on many areas of mathematical analysis, such as the geometry of Banach spaces, the ergodic theory, and spectral problems. He taught at institutes such as the University of California, Berkeley. He died of pancreatic cancer at age 64.

 17 
Christian de Duve
(Belgian Biochemist Who Discovered Two Cell Organelles, 'Peroxisome' and 'Lysosome')
Christian de Duve
3
Birthdate: October 2, 1917
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Thames Ditton, England
Died: May 4, 2013

Christian de Duve was an English-born Belgian cytologist and biochemist. For his discoveries of two cell organelles, peroxisome and lysosome, he shared the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Albert Claude and George E. Palade. He was the founder of the International Institute of Cellular and Molecular Pathology in Brussels, which was later renamed in his honor. 

 18 
Pierre-Joseph Redouté
(Belgian Painter Known for His Watercolours of Roses, Lilies and Other Flowers at the 'Château de Malmaison')
Pierre-Joseph Redouté
3
Birthdate: July 10, 1759
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Saint-Hubert, Belgium
Died: June 19, 1840

Belgian-born French painter and botanist Pierre-Joseph Redouté, also known as the Raphael of flowers, was a famous court painter and one of the greatest botanical illustrators of his time. Known for his iconic pieces such as Les Liliacées, he was a specialist of painting roses, too.

 19 
Paul Otlet
(Belgian Author and Lawyer Who Predicted the Arrival of the Internet Before WWII)
Paul Otlet
2
Birthdate: August 23, 1868
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brussels
Died: December 10, 1944

Belgian author and lawyer Paul Otlet went down in history as the man predicted the emergence of the internet as a world-wide information network over 50 years before its arrival. He also laid down the Universal Decimal Classification and penned the iconic book Traité de Documentation.

 20 
Albert Claude
(Cell Biologist)
Albert Claude
2
Birthdate: August 24, 1899
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Longlier, Neufchâteau, Belgium
Died: May 22, 1983
Born to a baker father, Nobel Prize-winning cell biologist Albert Claude had lost his mother to cancer as a child. He had served the British Intelligence Service during World War I. He used the electron microscope in biology for the first time and also discovered several components of the cell.
 21 
Jules Bordet
(Nobel Prize-Winning Belgian Scientist Known for His Discovery of Factors in Blood Serum that Destroy Bacteria)
Jules Bordet
4
Birthdate: June 13, 1870
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Soignies
Died: April 6, 1961

Nobel Prize-winning Belgian immunologist and microbiologist Jules Bordet is remembered for his discovery of blood serum components that are capable of destroying bacteria. He later established the Pasteur Institute of Brussels and taught at the Free University of Brussels. He also discovered the Bordetella pertussis bacteria that causes whooping cough.

 22 
Carolus Clusius
(French Botanist Who Developed Modern Botany)
Carolus Clusius
1
Birthdate: February 1, 1526
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Arras, France
Died: April 4, 1609

French botanist Carolus Clusius is remembered for his pioneering contribution to modern botany. He taught at the University of Leiden and was instrumental in the development of Hortus Botanicus Leiden. He is also remembered for his extensive study of tulip plants, which later encouraged the Dutch tulip industry.

 23 
Yves Chauvin
(French chemist)
Yves Chauvin
1
Birthdate: October 10, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Menen
Died: January 27, 2015

Known for his independent work on olefin metathesis, in which catalysts create and break double carbon bonds of organic molecules, Yves Chauvin played a significant role in the advancement of the green chemistry and helped to develop many new products like advanced plastics, fuel additives, and pharmaceuticals. For this role, he was co-awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

 24 
Robert Brout
(Theoretical Physicist Remembered for His Contribution to the 'Higgs Boson Theory')
Robert Brout
2
Birthdate: June 14, 1928
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: May 3, 2011

American theoretical physicist Robert Brout contributed immensely to the theory of Higgs Boson, for which François Englert and Peter Ware Higgs received the Nobel Prize. The Sakurai Prize and Wolf Prize-winning scientist also taught physics at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and eventually got a Belgian citizenship.

 25 
Qian Xiuling
(Scientist)
Qian Xiuling
1
Birthdate: 1912 AD
Birthplace: Yixing, Jiangsu, China
Died: 2008 AD
 26 
Dirk Frimout
(Astrophysicist for the ‘European Space Agency’ and the First Belgian Who Travelled into Space)
Dirk Frimout
1
Birthdate: March 21, 1941
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Poperinge, Belgium
 27 
Pattie Maes
(Belgian-Born Software Engineer Known for Her Research on the Human-Computer Interaction)
Pattie Maes
2
Birthdate: 1961 AD
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium

Belgian-born software engineer Pattie Maes made a revolutionary contribution to the e-commerce industry by redefining the human-computer interaction. She established the Fluid Interfaces Group of the MIT Media Lab and is part of the faculty of the MIT's Center for Neuro-Biological Engineering. She has also edited several books.

 28 
Rembert Dodoens
(Flemish Physician and Botanist Called the Father of Botany and Known for His Book ‘Cruydeboeck’ )
Rembert Dodoens
1
Birthdate: June 29, 1517
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mechelen, Belgium
Died: March 10, 1585
 29 
Julius Nieuwland
(Chemist, Botanist Known for His Discovery of 'Lewisite' and Acetylene Research for its Use as a Synthetic Rubber)
Julius Nieuwland
1
Birthdate: February 14, 1878
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nevele, Belgium
Died: June 11, 1936
 30 
Edouard van Beneden
(Belgian Embryologist and Cytologist Best Known for His Discovery on How Chromosomes organized meiosis )
Edouard van Beneden
1
Birthdate: March 5, 1846
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Leuven, Belgium
Died: April 28, 1910
 31 
Pierre-Joseph van Beneden
1
Birthdate: December 19, 1809
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Mechelen, Belgium
Died: January 8, 1894
Jean Baptiste Julien d'Omalius d'Halloy
0
Birthdate: February 16, 1783
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Liège, Belgium
Died: January 15, 1875
 33 
Pol Swings
(Astronomer)
Pol Swings
0
Birthdate: September 24, 1906
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ransart, Belgium, Charleroi, Belgium
Died: October 28, 1983