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Who are the most influential people in world?

Identify leaders in your chosen discipline, research top professors in your area of study, and search for schools based on the luminaries who most inspire you!

Note: These rankings dynamically change as our AI learns new things and new publications and citations are made. Academics are actively researching and publishing new insights, leaving our measure of more recent influence subject to continual adjustments. While we delay real-time changes for quality assurance reasons, be not surprised as you see our rankings change over time.

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Gender designations here are based off data sourced from Wikidata.

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List of the most influential people in Biology, for the years 2010 – 2020

Richard Dawkins
# 1
Richard Dawkins

1941 - Present (79 years)

#13 person's overall influence

Richard Dawkins is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford and former University of Oxford’s Professor for Public Understanding of Science, but he is best known for his work in evolutionary biology. He studied zoology at Balliol College, Oxford, earning a bachelor’s degree, M.A., and Ph.D.

Carolyn Bertozzi
# 2
Carolyn Bertozzi

1966 - Present (54 years)

#3431 person's overall influence

Carolyn Bertozzi is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University, and is an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She earned a B.A. in chemistry from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

Richard Lewontin
# 3
Richard Lewontin

1929 - Present (91 years)

#160 person's overall influence

Richard Lewontin is a geneticist, evolutionary biologist, mathematician, and commentator. He earned a B.S. in biology from Harvard College, a master’s degree in mathematical statistics, and a Ph.D. in zoology from Columbia University. Lewontin is best known for his work in theoretical and experimental population genetics.

J. Craig Venter
# 4
J. Craig Venter

1946 - Present (74 years)

#742 person's overall influence

Craig Venter is a biotechnologist and entrepreneur who is the founder or co/founder of Human Longevity, Inc., Synthetic Genomics, Celera Genomics, The Institute for Genomic and the J. Craig Venter Institute. He studied at the College of San Mateo in California before earning a B.S. in biochemistry and a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology from the University of California at San Diego.

Jennifer Doudna
# 5
Jennifer Doudna

1964 - Present (56 years)

#1374 person's overall influence

Jennifer Doudna is a Li Ka Shing Chancellor Chair Professor for the Department of Chemistry and Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, she has been a professor at the University of California at San Francisco and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and senior investigator at the Gladstone Institutes. She earned a B.A. in biochemistry from Pomona College and a Ph.D. in biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology from Harvard Medical School.

Edward O. Wilson
# 6
Edward O. Wilson

1929 - Present (91 years)

#89 person's overall influence

Edward O. Wilson is the world’s leading expert on ants, a specialty known as myrmecology, but that’s not all. He is also considered the father of biodiversity and the father of sociobiology. He is the Pellegrino University Research Professor Emeritus of Entomology at the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and a lecturer at Duke University. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in biology from the University of Alabama. He was named to the Harvard Society of Fellows, which enabled him to travel around the world studying ant species from Australia to Cuba. He graduated

Marcus Feldman
# 7
Marcus Feldman

1942 - Present (78 years)

#2533 person's overall influence

Marcus Feldman is co-director of the Center for Computational, Evolutionary, and Human Genomics and the Burnet C. and Mildred Finley Wohlford Professor of Biological Sciences, and director of the Morrison Institute for Population and Resource Studies at Stanford University. He earned degrees in mathematics and statistics from the University of Western Australia, a master of science in mathematics from Monash University, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University.

James D. Watson
# 8
James D. Watson

1928 - Present (92 years)

#96 person's overall influence

James D. Watson is a zoologist, geneticist and molecular biologist. He earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Indiana University. He is most recently well-known due to his controversial comments about race and genetics, for which he has been largely ostracized.

Mónica Bettencourt-Dias
# 9
Mónica Bettencourt-Dias

1974 - Present (46 years)

#3231 person's overall influence

Monica Bettencourt-Dias is the Director of Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência. A biochemist and cellular biologist, she is also the head of the Cell Cycle Regulation research group. She earned her undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of Lisbon, and graduated from University College London with a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology. She split her postdoctoral time between the University of Cambridge and Birkbeck College, where she researched kinases and scientific communication. She earned a Diploma in Science Communication from Birkbeck College in 2004, which aros

Emmanuelle Charpentier
# 10
Emmanuelle Charpentier

1968 - Present (52 years)

#2042 person's overall influence

Emmanuelle Charpentier is the Founding and Acting Director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens and an Honorary Professor at Humboldt University. She completed her undergraduate studies at the Pierre and Marie Curie University, which is now known as the Faculty of Science at Sorbonne University. She went on to earn a research doctorate from the Institut Pasteur.

Tom Knight
# 11
Tom Knight
#1364 person's overall influence

Tom Knight is a synthetic biologist and computer engineer for his company, Ginkgo Bioworks. He began his studies at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology at the tender age of 14, taking advantage of the school’s close proximity to his home.

Paul Nurse
# 12
Paul Nurse

1949 - Present (71 years)

#1479 person's overall influence

Sir Paul Maxime Nurse , is an English geneticist, former President of the Royal Society and Chief Executive and Director of the Francis Crick Institute. He was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Leland Hartwell and Tim Hunt for their discoveries of protein molecules that control the division of cells in the cell cycle.

Frances Arnold
# 13
Frances Arnold

1956 - Present (64 years)

#3355 person's overall influence

Frances Arnold is the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Biochemistry for the California Institute of Technology. She earned a B.S. in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University and an M.S. and Ph.D in chemical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. She earned a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her discovery of methods of using directed evolution to facilitate enzyme development.

George P. Smith
# 14
George P. Smith

1941 - Present (79 years)

#4841 person's overall influence

George Pearson Smith is an American biologist and Nobel laureate. He is a Curators' Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, US.

Jo Handelsman
# 15
Jo Handelsman

1959 - Present (61 years)

#11124 person's overall influence

Jo Handelsman was born in New York City. She is Professor of Plant Pathology, Vilas Research Professor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, and Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, all at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Handelsman obtained her bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Cornell University in 1979, and her PhD in molecular biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1984.

# 16
Robert M. Goodman

1945 - Present (75 years)

#12514 person's overall influence

Robert "Bob" M. Goodman is a prominent plant biologist and virologist, and has served as the executive dean of agriculture and natural resources at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey since June 2005. He is the executive dean of Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and the executive director of Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.

# 17
Eva Jablonka

1952 - Present (68 years)

#4544 person's overall influence

Eva Jablonka is an Israeli theorist and geneticist, known especially for her interest in epigenetic inheritance. Born in 1952 in Poland, she emigrated to Israel in 1957. She is a professor at the Cohn Institute for the History of Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University. In 1981 she was awarded the Landau prize of Israel for outstanding Master of Science work and in 1988, the Marcus prize for outstanding Ph.D. work. She is a proponent of academic freedom, recognising that on such matters, "academic and political issues cannot really be kept apart", although she is not a propo...

Jiankui He
# 18
Jiankui He

1984 - Present (36 years)

#2072 person's overall influence

Jiankui He is a biophysics researcher, former professor at Southern University of Science and Technology, and the creator of the first gene-edited babies. He earned a B.S. from the University of Science and Technology of China and a Ph.D. from Rice University. While at Rice University, he began working with CRISPR, and throughout his career, has used CRISPR on human embryos, mice and monkeys.

Greg Winter
# 19
Greg Winter

1951 - Present (69 years)

#9323 person's overall influence

Sir Gregory Paul Winter is a Nobel Prize-winning British biochemist best known for his work on the therapeutic use of monoclonal antibodies. His research career has been based almost entirely at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and the MRC Centre for Protein Engineering, in Cambridge, England.

Alfonso Valencia
# 20
Alfonso Valencia

1959 - Present (61 years)

#1337 person's overall influence

Alfonso Valencia is director of the Spanish National Bioinformatics Institute and the Life Sciences department at Barcelona Supercomputing Center. He is a professor for the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies and former president of the International Society for Computational Biology. He earned his Ph.D. in molecular biology from the Autonomous University of Madrid before completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory.

Hamilton Smith
# 21
Hamilton Smith

1931 - Present (89 years)

#1706 person's overall influence

Hamilton Smith, M. D., is a microbiologist, distinguished professor and scientific director of Synthetic Biology & Bioenergy at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in San Diego, California. He earned a B.A. in mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1952 and a M.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1956. He interned at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis and completed a Medical Residency at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. From 1962 to 1967 he did a fellowship in the Human Genetics department, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. From 1967 to 1998 he was Professor of...

Masatoshi Nei
# 22
Masatoshi Nei

1931 - Present (89 years)

#7273 person's overall influence

Masatoshi Nei is a Carnell Professor with the department of biology at Temple University. An evolutionary biologist, he studied at both Kyoto University and the University of Miyazaki.

Feng Zhang
# 23
Feng Zhang

1981 - Present (39 years)

#4299 person's overall influence

Feng Zhang is a core member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, the James and Patricia Poitras Professor in Neuroscience for the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and for Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After immigrating to the U.S. from China with his mother at the age of 11, he attended school in Iowa. He earned his B.A. in Chemistry and Physics from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in chemical and biological engineering from Stanford University.

Steven J. Cooke
# 24
Steven J. Cooke

1974 - Present (46 years)

#6545 person's overall influence

Steven J. Cooke is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Conservation Physiology and a full professor and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Science and Biology for Carleton University. He earned a bachelor of environmental studies and a master’s of biology from the University of Waterloo before earning his doctorate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is best known for his work studying fish physiology, ecology, conservation physiology, fish behavior, and human dimensions of complex environmental problems.

Randy Schekman
# 25
Randy Schekman

1948 - Present (72 years)

#3975 person's overall influence

Randy Wayne Schekman is an American cell biologist at the University of California, Berkeley and former editor-in-chief of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2011, he was announced as the editor of eLife, a new high-profile open-access journal published by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society and the Wellcome Trust launching in 2012. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1992. Schekman shared the 2013 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with James Rothman and Thomas C. Südhof for their ground-breaking work on cell membrane vesicle tr...

Stuart Kauffman
# 26
Stuart Kauffman

1939 - Present (81 years)

#339 person's overall influence

Stuart Kauffman is an emeritus professor of biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, an affiliate faculty member for the Institute of Systems Biology, a medical doctor, theoretical biologist, and researcher of complex systems. He earned his B.A. at Oxford University and an M.D. at the University of California at San Francisco.

Burkhard Rost
# 27
Burkhard Rost

1961 - Present (59 years)

#1593 person's overall influence

Burkhard Rost is head of the Department of Computational Biology & Bioinformatics for the Technical University of Munich. He is also the chair of the Study Section Bioinformatics Munich with the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. He studied physics at the University of Giessen and physics, history, philosophy, and psychology at the University of Heidelberg, where he earned his Ph.D.

Werner Arber
# 28
Werner Arber

1929 - Present (91 years)

#1353 person's overall influence

Werner Arber is a geneticist and microbiologist. He studied at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the University of Geneva. His doctorate was completed at the University of Geneva, where he studied electron microscopy and lambda bacteriophages.

Adam Hart
# 29
Adam Hart
#6445 person's overall influence

Adam Hart is a Professor of Science Communication in the School of Natural and Social Sciences at the University of Gloucestershire. He is also an author, broadcaster, and scientist for the BBC. He earned a B.A. in zoology at University of Cambridge’s Churchill College and a Ph.D. from the University of Sheffield. He is a well known scientist specializing in entomology.

David Baltimore
# 30
David Baltimore

1938 - Present (82 years)

#496 person's overall influence

David Baltimore is director of the Joint Center for Translational Medicine and President Emeritus and Robert Andrews Milliken Professor of Biology at the California Institute of Technology. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and a Ph.D. in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he also conducted his postdoctoral research on virus replication.

Peter Walter
# 31
Peter Walter

1954 - Present (66 years)

#4915 person's overall influence

Peter Walter is a German-American molecular biologist and biochemist and Professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

Marian Stamp Dawkins
# 32
Marian Stamp Dawkins

1945 - Present (75 years)

#5905 person's overall influence

Marian Stamp Dawkins is a British biologist and professor of ethology at the University of Oxford. Her research interests include vision in birds, animal signalling, behavioural synchrony, animal consciousness and animal welfare.

Carl Woese
# 33
Carl Woese

1928 - 2012 (84 years)

#387 person's overall influence

Carl Richard Woese was an American microbiologist and biophysicist. Woese is famous for defining the Archaea in 1977 by phylogenetic taxonomy of 16S ribosomal RNA, a technique he pioneered that revolutionized microbiology. He also originated the RNA world hypothesis in 1967, although not by that name. Woese held the Stanley O. Ikenberry Chair and was professor of microbiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

Jacques Dubochet
# 34
Jacques Dubochet

1942 - Present (78 years)

#4564 person's overall influence

Jacques Dubochet is a retired Swiss biophysicist. He is a former researcher at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, and an honorary professor of biophysics at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland.

Nicola Spence
# 35
Nicola Spence

1961 - Present (59 years)

#8319 person's overall influence

Nicola Spence is the Chief Plant Health Officer and Deputy Director for plant and bee health at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

# 36
Toshio Yanagida

1946 - Present (74 years)

#25589 person's overall influence

is a Japanese biophysicist famous for his pioneer research in single molecule biology, and made important contributions to single molecule fluorescence microscopy.

David Eagleman
# 37
David Eagleman

1971 - Present (49 years)

#10151 person's overall influence

David Eagleman is an American neuroscientist, author, and science communicator. He teaches as an adjunct professor at Stanford University and is CEO of NeoSensory, a company that develops devices for sensory substitution. He also directs the non-profit Center for Science and Law, which seeks to align the legal system with modern neuroscience. He is known for his work on brain plasticity, time perception, synesthesia, and neurolaw.

Eric Lander
# 38
Eric Lander

1957 - Present (63 years)

#1340 person's overall influence

Eric Lander is founding director of the Broad Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, Professor of Biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Professor of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. He graduated from Princeton University as valedictorian, with a B.S. in mathematics. He went on to attend Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, where he earned his Ph.D. He is a founder of Verastem and a founding advisor of Foundation Medicine.

Jerry Coyne
# 39
Jerry Coyne

1949 - Present (71 years)

#723 person's overall influence

Jerry Coyne is professor emeritus at the University of Chicago for the Department of Ecology and Evolution. He earned a B.S. in biology from the College of William & Mary. He was drafted while attending graduate school at Rockefeller University, but returned to his studies upon his return, earning a Ph.D. in biology from Harvard University. He went on to a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California at Davis. He is an expert in speciation and ecological and evolutionary genetics.

Nancy Rothwell
# 40
Nancy Rothwell

1955 - Present (65 years)

#4810 person's overall influence

Nancy Rothwell is the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester, the director of AstraZeneca, a global pharmaceuticals company, and a physiologist. She is also a trustee of Cancer Research UK and chair of the Research Defence Society. She earned her first class degree in physiology and a Ph.D from Queen Elizabeth College.

Sydney Brenner
# 41
Sydney Brenner

1927 - 2019 (92 years)

#333 person's overall influence

Sydney Brenner was a South African biologist. In 2002, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with H. Robert Horvitz and Sir John E. Sulston. Brenner made significant contributions to work on the genetic code, and other areas of molecular biology while working in the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. He established the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism for the investigation of developmental biology, and founded the Molecular Sciences Institute in Berkeley, California, United States.

Richard Axel
# 42
Richard Axel

1946 - Present (74 years)

#2320 person's overall influence

Richard Axel is an American molecular biologist and university professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Columbia University and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His work on the olfactory system won him and Linda Buck, a former postdoctoral research scientist in his group, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2004.

Christopher Voigt
# 43
Christopher Voigt
#32361 person's overall influence

Christopher Voigt is an American synthetic biologist, molecular biophysicist, and engineer.

Gerd Müller
# 44
Gerd Müller

1953 - Present (67 years)

#2995 person's overall influence

Gerd B. Müller is an Austrian biologist who is professor at the University of Vienna where he heads the Department of Theoretical Biology in the Center for Organismal Systems Biology. His research interests focus on vertebrate limb development, evolutionary novelties, evo-devo theory, and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis. He is also concerned with the development of 3D based imaging tools in developmental biology.

Jared Diamond
# 45
Jared Diamond

1937 - Present (83 years)

#779 person's overall influence

Jared Mason Diamond is an American geographer, historian, anthropologist, ornithologist, and author best known for his popular science books The Third Chimpanzee ; Guns, Germs, and Steel ; Collapse , The World Until Yesterday , and Upheaval . Originally trained in biochemistry and physiology, Diamond is known for drawing from a variety of fields, including anthropology, ecology, geography, and evolutionary biology. He is a professor of geography at UCLA.

Walter Gilbert
# 46
Walter Gilbert

1932 - Present (88 years)

#747 person's overall influence

Walter Gilbert is an American biochemist, physicist, molecular biology pioneer, and Nobel laureate.

Ewan Birney
# 47
Ewan Birney

1972 - Present (48 years)

#4094 person's overall influence

John Frederick William Birney is joint director with Rolf Apweiler of the European Bioinformatics Institute , in Hinxton, Cambridgeshire and deputy director the European Molecular Biology Laboratory . He also serves as non-executive director of Genomics England, chair of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health and honorary professor of bioinformatics at the University of Cambridge. Birney has made significant contributions to genomics, through his development of innovative bioinformatics and computational biology tools. He previously served as an associate faculty member at the Wellcome...

Sam Harris
# 48
Sam Harris

1967 - Present (53 years)

#1863 person's overall influence

Samuel Benjamin Harris is an American author, philosopher, neuroscientist, and podcast host. His work touches on a wide range of topics, including rationality, religion, ethics, free will, neuroscience, meditation, psychedelics, philosophy of mind, politics, terrorism, and artificial intelligence. Harris came to prominence for his criticism of religion, and Islam in particular, and is described as one of the "Four Horsemen of Atheism", along with Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett.

Philip Bourne
# 49
Philip Bourne

1953 - Present (67 years)

#2755 person's overall influence

Philip Eric Bourne is an Australian bioinformatician, non-fiction writer, and businessman. He is currently Stephenson Chair of Data Science and Director of the School of Data Science and Professor of Biomedical Engineering and was the first Associate Director for Data Science at the National Institutes of Health, where his projects include managing the Big Data to Knowledge initiative, and formerly Associate Vice Chancellor at UCSD. He has contributed to textbooks and is a strong supporter of open-access literature and software. His diverse interests have spanned structural biology, medical i

Roger D. Kornberg
# 50
Roger D. Kornberg

1947 - Present (73 years)

#4384 person's overall influence

Roger David Kornberg is an American biochemist and professor of structural biology at Stanford University School of Medicine. Kornberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2006 for his studies of the process by which genetic information from DNA is copied to RNA, "the molecular basis of eukaryotic transcription."