- Charles Darwin (1809-1882): Topic Page
British naturalist who revolutionized the study of biology with his theory of evolution based on natural selection. His most famous works include Origin of Species (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871).
- Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002): Topic Page
He was the world’s leading authority on the land snails of the West Indies, and was also known for espousing a modification of the traditional Darwinian theory of evolution, what he called ‘punctuated equilibria’, namely, that new species occasionally appear more quickly than the slow, steady, gradual process of Darwinian natural selection accounts for.
- Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895): Topic Page
English biologist and essayist. A leading advocate of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, Huxley combined his philosophical ideas with scientific exposition. He wrote essays from an ‘agnostic’ viewpoint (a term he introduced) and held that scientific discoveries had neither given support to, nor discredited, religious faith.
- Ernst Mayr (1904-2005): Topic Page
Ornithologist and evolutionist, born in Kempten, Germany. He was assistant curator of zoology at the museum of the University of Berlin (1926–32).
- Sydney Brenner (1927- ): Topic Page
British (South African-born) geneticist and one of the pioneers of genetic engineering.
- Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975): Topic Page
U.S. biologist, born in Russia, noted for work on evolution and genetic variation.
- Joseph Goldstein (1940- ): Topic Page
US geneticist who was awarded a Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1985 with Michael Brown for their work on the regulation of cholesterol metabolism. They discovered that the gene mutated in familial hypercholesterolaemia, a condition in which patients have very high blood cholesterol, is the gene for receptors involved in the removal of cholesterol from the bloodstream.
- Joshua Lederberg (1925-2008): Topic Page
U.S. geneticist, who discovered the phenomenon of transduction in bacteria. Nobel prize for physiology or medicine 1958 with George Beadle and Edward Tatum.
- Barbara McClintock (1902-1992): Topic Page
American genetic botanist. She won a 1983 Nobel Prize for discovering that genes are mobile within the chromosomes of a plant cell.
- Gregor Mendel (1822-1884): Topic Page
Austrian botanist and founder of the science of genetics. Through experiments with plants, chiefly garden peas, he discovered the principle of the inheritance of characteristics through the combination of genes from parent cells.
- Thomas Hunt Morgan (1866-1945): Topic Page
US geneticist and embryologist famous for his pioneering work on the genetics of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster - now extensively used in genetic research - and for establishing the chromosome theory of heredity.
- Hermann Muller (1890-1967): Topic Page
US geneticist who was awarded a Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1946 for his discovery, in 1926, that X-ray irradiation can cause mutation. This showed that mutations are nothing more than chemical changes.
- Alfrec Sturtevant (1891-1970): Topic Page
US geneticist who was the first, in 1911, to map the position of genes on a chromosome. He worked with US biologist Thomas Morgan.
- August Weismann (1834-1914): Topic Page
Basing his ideas in part on his earlier work on the sex cells of hydrozoa, he proposed that all organisms contain a ‘germplasm’, associated especially with the ovum and sperm cells, which he later located in what are now called the chromosomes. In his view, it was germplasm that gave the continuity from parent to offspring.
- Francis Crick (1916-2004): Topic Page
The outstanding advance in the life sciences in this century has been the creation of a new branch of science: molecular biology. In this, Crick has been a central figure and its key concept, that the self-replicating genetic material DNA has the form of a double helix with complementary strands, is due to him and J D Watson.
- James Watson (1928- ): Topic Page
American biologist who with Francis Crick proposed a spiral model, the double helix, for the molecular structure of DNA. He shared a 1962 Nobel Prize for advances in the study of genetics.
- Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958): Topic Page
Franklin deduced from X-ray diffraction photographs of DNA that the long, chain-like DNA molecules might be arranged in a helical form, with the phosphate groups on the outside. Her death at age 37 excluded her from consideration for the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine in 1962, which was shared by Crick, Watson and Wilkins.