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.
Part of the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list of young scientists, Canadian-American mathematician John Urschel has previously had an illustrious football career as part of the NFL team Baltimore Ravens. He played with the Ravens without revealing that he was a full-time graduate student at MIT.
Neuroscientist Wilder Penfield redefined medical science with his innovative way of treating epilepsy patients through surgery. He would note down his patients’ responses when they would be conscious under local anesthesia. He also founded the Montreal Neurological Institute, but was unable to cure his sister’s brain cancer.
As part of the FDA, Frances Oldham Kelsey prevented thalidomide from being allowed in the US drug market as a painkiller, as she was unsure of its impact. Her concerns were proved right when the drug caused birth defects in European children. She was subsequently awarded by the US president.
Gerald Vincent Bull was a Canadian artillery expert, known for designing Project Babylon supergun for the Government of Iraq. His idea was to do away with the conventional rockets by firing satellites into orbit from a 156m-long barrel embedded inside a hill. However, his assassination within two years of the start of the project put an end to it.
Princeton alumnus Brian Kernighan had a 30-year stint at the Bell Laboratories before returning to his alma mater as a professor. The Canadian computer scientist has played a major role in the development of Unix and has also co-authored the first book on the C programming language.
Frederick Banting was a Canadian medical scientist and physician. In 1923, Banting and Scottish biochemist John James Rickard Macleod received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of insulin and its therapeutic potential. Aged 32 at that time, Banting remains the youngest Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine. He was knighted by King George V in 1934.
9 Rob Pike
Best known as the co-designer of the Go programming language, computer programmer Rob Pike has had an illustrious stint with the Bell Labs and now works with Google. He was also part of the Unix development team and has co-written books such as The Practice of Programming.
10 Sid Meier
Game designer Sid Meier soared to fame with the strategy game series Civilization. Initially a cash-register designer, he later co-founded the gaming company MicroProse. He met his wife at a Lutheran Church, where they both still sing. Apart from the AIAS Hall of Fame Award, he has also penned a memoir.
Rasmus Lerdorf was the brain behind the PHP scripting language, which flourished from his personal home page and became an open-source language used worldwide. Born in Greenland, he later moved to Denmark, before settling in Canada, and has had a successful stint with companies such as Yahoo! and Etsy.
12 Erik Demaine
James Gosling earned the nickname Dr. Java after he revolutionized the world of computer programming with his Java programming language. The Carnegie Mellon alumnus has had a 26-year stint with Sun Microsystems. The computer nerd has a picture of the first 1000 digits of √2 framed in his office.
14 Oswald Avery
A pioneer of molecular biology, Oswald Avery revolutionized science with his research on the chemical processes involved in immunology. The Canadian-American bacteriologist initially aspired to be a musician. He later proved that DNA was the basis of heredity. Though nominated for the Nobel Prize multiple times, he never won it.
Nobel Prize-winning Canadian physicist Arthur B. McDonald is remembered for his research on neutrino oscillations and for proving that neutrinos have mass. He spent most of his life teaching at the Princeton and Queen’s universities. He also headed a project that mass-produced low-cost ventilators to be used as COVID-19 supplies.
Herbert Henry Dow taught chemistry before venturing into a business career. Though his first company was a failure, his work impressed investors, and he was soon able to establish Dow Chemical, which supplied low-cost bromine to the US markets. He later made auto pistons out of spare magnesium.
A legend of anatomy, Keith L. Moore was also one of the founders of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists. The author of books such as Before We Are Born, Moore was also known for his study on the scientific accuracy of statements related to embryology mentioned in the Quran.
Though born to physicians, Donald O. Hebb had initially aspired to be a novelist. He later pioneered neuropsychology by merging elements of psychology and neuroscience, and thus establishing psychology as part of bio science. His iconic work The Organization of Behavior spoke about many innovate concepts such as Hebb’s Rule.
19 Stephen Cook
A.M. Turing Award-winning American-Canadian computer scientist Stephen Cook is known for his contribution to the development of the computational complexity theory and laid down the Cook–Levin theorem. The Harvard alumnus has also taught at institutes such as the University of Toronto. He is also an avid sailor and violinist.
Known as “The Poet of the Stars,” Canadian astrophysicist Hubert Reeves has been a NASA advisor. His research covers neutrinos and thermonuclear reactions in stars. Having penned numerous science and astronomy books such as Soleil, he is known as a popularizer of science and has an asteroid named after him.
Initially a herbalist’s apprentice, Simon Newcomb later deviated to mathematics and astronomy. Born to a schoolteacher, he had loved math since age 5 but wasn’t formally educated. He later joined Harvard University, taught math at the US Navy, detected locations of celestial bodies, and wrote a science-fiction novel, too.
Canadian mathematician Albert W. Tucker is remembered for his contribution to the field of operations research, primarily non-linear programming and game theory. The Princeton alumnus was also associated with Harvard as a research fellow and later taught math at Princeton. John Nash was one of his PhD students.
Born to a South African mother and a Dutch father in Pretoria, Theo de Raadt later moved to Canada with his family. The software engineer founded the OpenBSD and OpenSSH operating system networks and also contributed to NetBSD. He has also formed the Internet Exchange YYCIX in Calgary.
Considered a pioneer in her field, centenarian neuropsychologist Brenda Milner is known for her immense contribution to clinical neuropsychology. Especially known for her work on memory and cognition, she has contributed immensely to the study of temporal lobe. Her papers on the frontal lobes in problem-solving and the lateralization of hemispheric function in language are also highly regarded by scholars.
Austrian-Canadian biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy is best remembered as one of the pioneers of the general systems theory (GST). While he initially studied philosophy and history, he later switched to biology. It is believed his allegiance to the Nazi Party helped him become a professor at the University of Vienna.
Canadian philosopher and academic Paul Churchland is best known for his research on eliminative materialism. Born to a science teacher father, he was obsessed with science fiction and initially aspired to become an aerodynamical engineer. He later studied philosophy and became a significant figure in the field of neurophilosophy.
Canadian mathematician Robert Langlands is best known for his Langlands program. The Yale alumnus later taught at Yale and Princeton. His contributions include research on number theory and representation theory, and he has received several honors, including an Abel Prize and the Order of Canada.
28 W. T. Tutte
Born to working-class parents who were employed with the upkeep of the Fitzroy House stables, W. T. Tutte completed his high school studies on scholarships. Initially interested in physical chemistry, he later focused on math and became a genius codebreaker. He deciphered several intricate German military codes, such as FISH.
29 Hans Moravec
An adjunct faculty member at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University, Hans Peter Moravec is mostly known for his work on artificial intelligence. He firmly believed that the robots would overtake humans in near future. He has published multiple works including Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence and Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind on the subject. .
Shirley Marie Tilghman, the nineteenth President of Princeton University, currently the Emeritus Professor of Molecular Biology and Public Affairs, is considered to be one of the most influential female scientists of our time. Although she is no longer involved in active research she is known for her contributions in the fields of molecular genetics, especially in genomic imprinting.
31 Alfred Aho
Alfred Aho is a Canadian computer scientist. He is best known for his work on compilers, programming languages, and related algorithms. He is the author of several popular textbooks on the art and science of computer programming. Along with his long-time collaborator Jeffrey Ullman, he was awarded the 2020 Turing Award, one of the most prestigious awards in computer science.
Louis Nirenberg was a Canadian-American mathematician. He is counted as one of the most outstanding mathematicians of the 20th century. He specialized in the field of partial differential equations. He extensively collaborated with Shmuel Agmon and Avron Douglis to extend the Schauder theory. He was the recipient of several awards and honors, including the Bôcher Memorial Prize.
33 Hugh Ross
Equipped with a PhD in astronomy, Hugh Ross had been a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech. However, he later focused on studying the link between scientific discoveries and their biblical explanations, and formed the ministry Reasons to Believe. He has written books, hosted podcasts, and attended events, speaking about progressive creationism.
Endel Tulving is an Estonian-born Canadian experimental psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist. He is best known for his pioneering research on human memory. He earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University and began his academic work at the University of Toronto, where he remained for the rest of his career. He is a recipient of the Canada Gairdner International Award.
Nobel Prize-winning Canadian physicist and Stanford professor Richard E. Taylor is best remembered for revolutionizing particle physics by discovering quarks, which make up matter. He was also associated with the designing of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Nobel Prize-winning British-Canadian biochemist Michael Smith is best remembered for his research on site-directed mutagenesis, which has paved the path for further research on topics such as gene therapy and Alzheimer disease. A professor of biotechnology and biochemistry, he later co-founded the biotechnology company ZymoGenetics Inc.
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.
39 John Polanyi
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.
Known for his independent work on ribonucleic acid (RNA), molecular biologist Sidney Altman co-won the 1989 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering that RNA, which was thought to be a passive carrier of genetic codes, is also capable of taking up active enzymatic functions. The discovery is significant in that it forced scientists to reexamine traditional theories on cellular functions.
Best known for his work on plate tectonics, John Tuzo Wilson was the son of a Scottish immigrant and had become the first Canadian to earn a degree in geophysics. Following his service in World War II, he began teaching geophysics. The Wilson Mountains in Antarctica was named after him.
British-Canadian mathematician Harold Scott MacDonald Coxeter is regarded as one of the most influential geometers ever born. He showed immense skill in both math and music as a child. During his 6 decades at the University of Toronto, he wrote several books. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Willard Boyle revolutionized physics with the invention of the charge-coupled device (CCD), which also earned him, and his co-inventor George E. Smith, a Nobel Prize. During his time at Bellcomm, he was associated with the Apollo space program. Both he and Smith worked for Bell Laboratories, too.
44 Charles Best
Charles Best made history with his discovery of insulin, along with Sir Frederick Banting, thus paving the path for its use as a treatment for diabetes. He, however, failed to get the 1923 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, like Banting, as he didn’t receive his medical degree till 1925.
Although he studied English literature and eventually gained a master’s degree in the subject, David H. Levy was an avid comet watcher since childhood. He later teamed up with Gene and Carolyn Shoemaker to discover over 20 comets. A skilled science writer, too, he penned books such as Skywatching.
German-Canadian physicist Gerhard Herzberg is remembered for his Nobel Prize-winning work on ascertaining the electronic structure of molecules, particularly free radicals. He had escaped to Canada following the rise of the Nazis and later also worked in the U.S. His doctoral students included Japanese chemist Takeshi Oka.
47 Maud Menten
Maud Menten was a Canadian bio-medical and medical researcher. She made several important contributions to enzyme kinetics and histochemistry. She studied medicine at the University of Toronto, becoming among the first women in Canada to earn a medical doctorate. She collaborated with Leonor Michaelis to come up with the Michaelis-Menten equation model.
48 Henry Taube
Nobel Prize-winning Canadian-American chemist Henry Taube is best remembered for his research on electron-transfer reactions. Apart from teaching at reputed institutes such as Cornell and Stanford, Taube also became a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He was also an ardent fan of classical music and loved gardening, too.
Nobel Prize-winning Canadian physicist Bertram Brockhouse is best remembered for his research on neutron-scattering techniques. He also invented the neutron spectrometer and became one of the first to calculate the phonon dispersion curve of a solid. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society for his contribution to science.
Bjarni Tryggvason is an engineer and former astronaut who played an important role in the Space Shuttle mission STS-85, where he served as a Payload Specialist. The mission, which was conducted in 1997, played a key role in studying the changes in the Earth's atmosphere. In 1997, Tryggvason was honored with the prestigious NASA Space Flight Medal.