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The Five Most Influential Modern-Day Scientists

Some people might say science is boring, uncool, or nerdy. Those people have never met the five most influential scientists of the modern era. From the incredible intellect of Stephen Hawking, to the men who brought science to the masses, science is seriously cool. If you’ve never heard of these five gifted scientists, strap yourself to your seat because you’re about to be blown away.

5. Stephen Hawking

stephen hawking

Stephen Hawking attended Oxford in England, then Cambridge. He has written hundreds, if not thousands, of articles about physics. He discovered and named several laws about black holes, a favorite subject of his for study. He has written a series of children’s books, and his most famous work, A Brief History of Time, made the subjects of physics, time, and the nature of the universe accessible for the common person. He continues his research today and his name has become synonymous with “genius.”

4. Bill Nye:

bill nyeWilliam Sanford Nye (known by his popular moniker Bill Nye the Science Guy,) studied at Cornell University in New York. His influence is felt strongly by anyone who has seen his popular TV series for children which covered a wide range of scientific topics, from Bernoulli’s Principle, to earthquakes, to changes in states of matter, his upbeat and friendly persona made science fun and engaging for school-aged children. Now that his show has wrapped, he goes on TV as a science consultant and often corrects misinformation about scientific topics.

3. Jane Goodall:

jane goodallJane Goodall studied at Newnham and Darwin college in Cambridge. From a young age, she fell in love with animals, chimpanzees in particular. She traveled to the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. She arrived at Kasakela chimpanzee community and spent 45 years studying the chimpanzees living there. Goodall was not a classically trained scientist at the time and thus broke with many ongoing conventions of scientific study, including naming her subjects and making unconventional observations. Thanks to her intense and atypical study of chimpanzees, the sciences of behavior, anthropology and ethology experienced a number of advances, overturning pre-conceived notions about primate behavior.

2. Neil de Grasse Tyson:

neil de grasse tysonNeil de Grasse Tyson studied at Columbia and Harvard. He is an extremely popular and talented scientist who focuses on astrophysics, communication and physical cosmology. His science credentials are flawless, and he is influential today because of his outspoken advocacy for science education. At the time of this writing, he is Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space. At the American Museum of Natural History he is a research associate. He also makes frequent appearances as a science consultant for numerous media outlets.

1. Rosalind Franklin

rosalind franklin

Rosalind Franklin studied at Newnham College in Cambridge and is credited with discovering DNA. Using her training with X-Ray machines she was able to take pictures of the DNA structure. Through these pictures, experiments and excellent scientific work, she was able to determine the helix shape of DNA. Her photo of DNA was shown to the men who are popularly credited with its discovery (Crick and Watson) and who were first to publish their paper about the helix structure. Though they did not actually steal her research, her early death and the sexist nature of science work at the time made her work take somewhat less precedence. Now, DNA is well understood as the basis of how life came to be and how organisms pass traits to their offspring. Without her contribution to the field of DNA and life sciences, our understanding of the world around us would be much less advanced.

With hard work and a little bit of luck, you could become an influential scientist too. For more information about getting started with science, visit

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