Born to a poor fur dealer, Conrad Gessner was sent to study under an uncle who dealt in medicinal herbs. He then studied theology but later grew up to become a Renaissance polymath, excelling in subjects such as natural history and medicine. His Bibliotheca universalis remains a major work in bibliography.
Swiss botanist Augustin Pyrame de Candolle excelled in literature and poetry in school but later focused on botany. He is remembered for establishing scientific standards and classification for plant genera. Known for his Théorie élémentaire de la botanique, he later lent his name to several plant species and genera.
Swiss biologist Albrecht von Haller, who is hailed as the father of experimental physiology, grew up as a sickly child and thus often avoided sports and mastered Greek, Hebrew, and the Bible instead. Associated with the University of Göttingen, he later penned Physiological Elements of the Human Body, which revolutionized medical science.
Born to a French physician in Switzerland, Gaspard Bauhin was a qualified physician himself and later made some of the most significant contributions to the classification of plants. Known for his Pinax theatri botanica, he also provided one of the initial descriptions of the ileocecal (or Bauhin’s) valve.
While he initially studied medicine, Carl Nägeli later became a major figure in botany. Associated with the universities of Zürich, Freiburg, and Munich, he made extraordinary contributions to the study of plant cells. He also introduced the concept of meristematic tissue, associated with cell division in plants.
Born to famous botanist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle, Alphonse Pyrame de Candolle had initially studied law but switched to botany later. Part of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, he made significant contributions to phytogeography. He also called the inaugural International Botanical Congress for standardizing botanical nomenclature.
The son of a science teacher, Albert Frey-Wyssling initially geared up for a career in teaching too, but later grew up to become one of the greatest Swiss botanists ever. Apart from introducing submicroscopic morphology, he also developed what is now known as molecular biology. He later taught at ETH Zürich.