Leonhard Euler was a Swiss physicist, mathematician, logician, geographer, astronomer, and engineer. He is credited with making influential and important mathematical discoveries, such as graph theory and infinitesimal calculus. Widely regarded as one of the greatest and most prolific mathematicians of all time, Leonhard Euler also made pioneering contributions to analytic number theory and topology.
Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann was the first known person to synthesize the psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Interested in science from a young age, he studied chemistry at the University of Zürich. As a chemist, he conducted several significant studies and authored more than 100 scientific articles and books. He was a recipient of the prestigious Scheele Award.
Swiss-American physicist and engineer Bernhard Caesar Einstein was better known as the only grandchild of Albert Einstein to have survived beyond childhood. While two of his biological brothers died in infancy, his parents adopted a girl child, too. He grew up to work on night vision and laser technology.
Born into a family of drug merchants, Jacob Bernoulli was forced to study theology by his father but later deviated to math. He taught math and laid down the Bernoulli’s equation and calculus of variations. Apart from him and his brother, Johann Bernoulli, his family later produced more great mathematicians.
Daniel Bernoulli was a Swiss physicist and mathematician. Born into the popular Bernoulli family of mathematicians, Daniel Bernoulli is renowned for his applications of mathematical equations to mechanics. He is also remembered for his pioneering work in statistics and probability. In 2002, he was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame.
Brother and colleague of Swiss mathematician Jacob Bernoulli and part of the famous Bernoulli family of mathematicians, Johann Bernoulli was initially pushed to join his family business of drug and spices. He later took up medicine, eventually deviating to math and contributing to infinitesimal calculus, along with Jacob.
Turing Award-winning Swiss computer scientist Niklaus Wirth revolutionized information technology with his invention of computer languages such as ALGOL-W, PASCAL, and MODULA. He has also taught at Stanford and ETH Zürich and penned a number of books on algorithms and data structures. He has also popularized Wirth's law.
Born to a businessman and diplomat father in Bulgaria, Fritz Zwicky was initially sent to Switzerland to study commerce but ended up deviating to math and physics. He then moved to the U.S. to work with Caltech and gained fame for his research on what he called the supernova.
Swiss-born Belgian physicist Auguste Piccard is best remembered for his research on the Earth’s upper stratosphere. He designed his own ships to explore the depth of the seas and also built balloons to study cosmic rays. His bathyscaphe remains one of his best-known inventions. He also co-discovered the magnetocaloric effect.
Johann Heinrich Lambert was a Swiss polymath whose contributions to the fields of physics, mathematics, map projections, astronomy, and philosophy are considered important by many scholars. He is credited with introducing hyperbolic functions into trigonometry. He is also credited with inventing a hygrometer, which is used to measure the quantity of water vapor in soil and air.
Alfred Werner was a Swiss chemist who is credited with developing the fundamental for modern coordination chemistry. In 1913, he became the first inorganic chemist to receive the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which he won for proposing the correct configuration of transition metal complexes.
Apart from being the first to discover nucleic acid, Swiss biochemist Friedrich Miescher also isolated protamine, a protein associated with nucleic acid. Born to a scientifically rich family, he initially wished to become a doctor, but rendered partially deaf due to typhoid, he later chose physiological chemistry.
Felix Bloch was a Swiss-American physicist who served as the first Director-General of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) from 1954 to 1955. Before joining CERN, Bloch worked on the Manhattan Project during the Second World War after which he started focusing on investigations into nuclear magnetic induction, for which he received the 1952 Nobel Prize in Physics.
Born in a small Polish village, Ignacy Mościcki grew up to become a chemist, an academic, and a researcher, before he stepped into politics. He later served Poland as its longest-serving president. Initially a supporter of Polish dictator Józef Piłsudski, he became more liberal after Piłsudski’s death.
Alexandre Yersin was a physician and bacteriologist. He is credited with co-discovering Yersinia pestis, the bacillus that causes the bubonic plague. Also an agriculturist, Yersin pioneered the cultivation of rubber trees. He is revered by the Vietnamese people because of his association with Hanoi Medical University; a private university in Da Lat is named in his honor.
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.
A close associate of Isaac Newton, Swiss mathematician Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, was, according to many, the reason for Newton’s nervous breakdown after they fell apart. He is best remembered for co-discovering the phenomenon of zodiacal light and for inventing the shadow theory of gravitation.
Swiss physicist Alfred Kleiner is best remembered for his studies on statistical physics. A physics professor at the University of Zurich, he was later also associated with ETH Zurich. He also became the doctoral thesis supervisor of Albert Einstein after Einstein had major differences with his previous advisor, Heinrich F. Weber.
Russian-French surgeon Serge Voronoff, or the Monkey Gland Man, stunned everyone by implanting monkey testicles in his patients to cure impotence. He had apparently also injected himself with dog and guinea pig testicle extracts. Unfortunately, the scientific community dismissed his claims as simply the result of placebo effect.
Swiss mathematician Jakob Steiner is remembered for pioneering the field of projective geometry. Born to a farmer, he didn’t have initial schooling and couldn’t write until age 14. His parents were against his decision to join school at 18. He later rose to be a significant figure of synthetic geometry.
Swiss mathematician Marcel Grossmann was the son of a textile factory manager but became a geometry professor instead of following in his father’s path. He later co-established the Swiss Mathematical Society and collaborated with Albert Einstein on a paper that formed the basis of Einstein’s theory of gravity.
Richard R. Ernst is a Swiss physical chemist whose work on Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy earned him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1991. Over the course of his career, Ernst has been honored with other awards, including the John Gamble Kirkwood Medal. In 2009, he became the subject of a documentary film titled Science Plus Dharma Equals Social Responsibility.
Born to a doctor, Gabriel Cramer showed an interest in math since childhood. He received his doctoral degree at 18 and was named the co-chair of the University of Geneva at 20. Known for his research on algebraic curves, he is also remembered for devising Cramer’s rule and Cramer’s paradox.
Paul Hermann Müller was a Swiss chemist known for his discovery of insecticidal qualities and the use of DDT in the control of vector diseases. He received the 1948 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for this work. He began his career as a research chemist and later became the Deputy Director of Scientific Research on Substances for Plant Protection.
Born in China, to an Austrian-born lawyer, Edmond H. Fischer studied in a Swiss boarding school and also aspired to be a musician. The Nobel Prize-winning biochemist is now best known for his path-breaking research on reversible phosphorylation, which regulates cell protein activity. He also taught at the University of Washington.
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.
Nobel Prize-winning Croatian-Swiss chemist Lavoslav Ružička is remembered for his research on cyclic compounds. He also taught in the Netherlands and Switzerland. Apart from studying the rings of muskone and civetone molecules, he also discovered the molecular structures of male hormones such as testosterone and androsterone.
Werner Arber is a Swiss geneticist and microbiologist whose discovery of restriction endonucleases earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1978; he shared the award with Daniel Nathans and Hamilton Smith. Arber's work alongside Nathans and Smith led to the progression of recombinant DNA technology. Werner Arber is also credited with co-founding the World Cultural Council.
Nobel Prize-winning Swiss mathematician Heinrich Rohrer is best remembered for co-designing the scanning tunneling microscope along with fellow Nobel winner Ernst Ruska. He was also associated with the IBM Research laboratory and even conducted research on thermal conductivity at Rutgers University in New Jersey while on his honeymoon in the US.
Nobel Prize-winning Swiss biophysicist and chemist Kurt Wüthrich is best known for developing the NMR technique for studying large biological molecules. Initially a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, he was also later associated with the Scripps Research Institute. He later became a permanent resident of China.
Vladimir Prelog was a Croatian-Swiss organic chemist known for his research into the stereochemistry of organic molecules and reactions. He received his Sc.D under the guidance of prominent chemist and composer Emil Votoček. He had a successful academic career and received the 1975 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He was also a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.
Rolf M. Zinkernagel is a Swiss professor who teaches Experimental Immunology. In 1996, he was honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work pertaining to the immune system. In 1999, his scientific work also earned him Australia's highest civilian honor, the Companion of the Order of Australia.
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.
Marcel Benoist Prize-winning Swiss physicist Paul Scherrer is remembered for coming up with the Debye-Scherrer method of X-ray diffraction analysis along with Dutch-American physicist Peter Debye. He also served ETH Zurich as its HOD of physics and the Swiss Atomic Energy Commission as its president.
Born in Switzerland, Charles Édouard Guillaume grew up to win the Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of the nickel-steel alloys invar and elinva. He also served the International Bureau of Weights and Measures as its director, while his research covered horology and space radiation, too.
German chemist Richard Willstätter is best remembered for his Nobel Prize-winning research on chlorophyll and the structures of other plant pigments. He taught at ETH Zürich and the universities of Berlin and Munich but later resigned from his post at Munich as a protest against anti-Jew attacks.
German chemist Christian Friedrich Schönbein is best remembered for his discovery of ozone and the fuel cell. He also discovered guncotton, or nitrocellulose, as a result of a kitchen accident. He was an apprentice at a chemical firm at 13 and grew up to teach at the at the University of Basel.
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.
Swiss chemist Tadeusz Reichstein is remembered for his Nobel Prize-winning research on the hormones of the adrenal cortex. He also taught pharmaceutical chemistry and organic chemistry at the University of Basel and independently discovered the synthesis of vitamin C. At 99, he was the oldest-living Nobel laureate until his death.
Astronaut Claude Nicollier scripted history by becoming the first Swiss person to travel into space. His 4 Space Shuttle missions include 2 missions for the servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope. He has also held electrical engineering and spatial technology classes at the École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne.
A professor of ecological economics and industrial ecology, Julia Steinberger had been associated with the universities of Leeds and Zurich before joining the University of Lausanne. The daughter of Nobel-winning physicist Jack Steinberger, Julia has also led the award-winning research project Living Well Within Limits and supports Greta Thunberg’s climate activism.
Initially a physician, Germain Henri Hess later focused on chemistry and eventually came up with the Hess's law of thermochemistry. The Swiss-born scientist had grown up and conducted his research in Russia, where his artist father worked. His book Fundamentals of Pure Chemistry was a staple text in Russia for years.
Paul Bernays was a Swiss mathematician best remembered for his association with the German mathematician David Hilbert. Bernays is also remembered for making significant contributions to the philosophy of mathematics, axiomatic set theory, and mathematical logic. Paul Bernays is credited with publishing a two-volume work titled Grundlagen der Mathematik, which houses the famous Hilbert–Bernays paradox.