American physicist Arthur Compton is best-known for introducing Compton wavelength, discovering Compton scattering, first identifying the Compton–Getting effect in the intensity of cosmic rays along with Ivan A. Getting, and for the Compton generator. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1927 for discovering Compton effect. He also remained a prominent figure during the Manhattan Project.
Paul Stamets is an American entrepreneur and mycologist. An ardent supporter of mycoremediation and medicinal fungi, Stamets sells various mushroom products. In 2014, he was honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science with an Invention Ambassador award. In 2019, he contributed immensely to the creation of a documentary film titled Fantastic Fungi.
Astronomer Amy Mainzer has been associated with NASA's NEOWISE mission and specializes in asteroid detection. The Stanford and Caltech alumna now teaches at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory of the University of Arizona and has also appeared on the History Channel series The Universe and in several documentaries.
Karl Gordon Henize was a space scientist and astronaut who authored seventy papers on astronomy. He was posted at various observatories round the world. Later on, he joined NASA as scientist-astronaut and flew on space shuttle Challenger as a mission specialist.
Lyman Spitzer was an American theoretical physicist, mountaineer, and astronomer. He was known for his research into star formation and plasma physics. He is credited with the invention of the stellarator plasma device and he was the one who first conceived the idea of telescopes operating in outer space. He was a founding member of the World Cultural Council.
Best known for his pathbreaking study on angiogenesis, Judah Folkman discovered that tumors required blood vessels to survive, while on duty as a navy doctor. The son of a rabbi, he chose to study medicine instead of following in his father’s footsteps and ended up graduating from Harvard.
Though William Wallace Campbell initially studied civil engineering, he later developed a love for astronomy. Starting his career as a math professor, he later taught astronomy and became the director of the Lick Observatory. He is best remembered for his research on astronomical spectroscopy and binary stars.
Geneticist James V. Neel is known for his extensive research on genetic epidemiology and often studied sickle-cell disease and thalassemia. He also studied the effect of ionizing radiation on the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. He had also penned several books and over 600 scientific articles.
John Jacob Abel was a biochemist and pharmacologist who established the pharmacology department at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. While at Hopkins, he made several important medical advancements. He made significant contributions in the field of hormone extraction and founded the Journal of Biological Chemistry. He was a recipient of the Conne Medal and the Kober Medal.
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George Harrison Shull gained fame not just as a plant geneticist but also for his pioneering discovery of hybrid corn, or maize. He also coined the term heterosis. He taught at Princeton for 27 years and also established the journal Genetics, serving as its managing editor.
Though interested in photography and astronomy since an early age, Charles Dillon Perrine failed to fund a proper college education. His zeal earned him a job at the Lick Observatory. Apart from discovering two moons of Jupiter, Himalia and Elara, he also served as the director of the Argentine National Observatory.
Invertebrate paleontologist Charles Schuchert had initially been part of his father’s furniture business. After his father’s death, he developed an affinity for studying fossils while working to support his family. He later came to be known as a pioneer in the study of paleogeography and also taught at Yale.
MIT and Harvard alumnus James L. Elliot returned to MIT as a professor after completing his postdoctoral research at Cornell. He is best remembered for discovering Uranus’s rings. His research also included Pluto and Triton. He also contributed to astrophotography by developing a special telescope camera for the Las Campanas Observatory.
Donald Edward Osterbrock is best remembered for his research on the Milky Way and the stellar structure and later specialized in the history of astronomy. His studies on the nebulae and galaxies are invaluable. He was associated with Caltech and had also been the director of the Lick Observatory.
A pilot’s son, Charles Stuart Bowyer excelled in physics and became a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. A pioneer of extreme ultraviolet astronomy, he spearheaded the launch of the first EUVE satellite and also pushed for the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. He died of COVID-19 complications.
Born into poverty, William Coblentz could only finish high school by age 22. His talent in physics helped him make it to Cornell University. He later became one of the pioneers of infrared spectroscopy and also studied blackbody radiation. He headed the U.S. National Bureau of Standards’ Radiometry Section, too.