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Who are the most influential thinkers 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 change dynamically as our artificial intelligence system learns new things and incorporates new publications and citations. Academics are constantly doing research and publishing new insights, with the result that our measure of influence is subject to continual adjustments. For quality assurance reasons, however, we forgo real-time changes, with most public updates happening only quarterly. In any case, don’t be surprised to see our rankings change over time.

Methodology: How and Why We Rank by Influence …

Gender designations here are based off data sourced from Wikidata.

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List of the most influential people in Earth Sciences, for the years 1970 – 2020

Cecil Howard Green
# 1
Cecil Howard Green

1900 - 2003 (103 years)

#2919 person's overall influence

Cecil Howard Green KBE was a British-born American geophysicist who trained at the University of British Columbia and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Bernhard Eitel
# 2
Bernhard Eitel

1959 - Present (62 years)

#8000 person's overall influence

Bernhard Eitel is a German earth scientist and geographer.

Michael E. Mann
# 3
Michael E. Mann

1965 - Present (56 years)

#2378 person's overall influence

Michael E. Mann is the director of the Earth System Science Center for Pennsylvania State University, a climatologist, and geophysicist. He has earned an A.B. in applied mathematics and an A.B. in physics from the University of California at Berkeley, before earning an M.S. and M.Phil in physics, an M.Phil in geology, and a Ph.D in geology & geophysics from Yale University. His work has resulted in new techniques for recording and evaluating past climate data and how to distinguish between useful climate data and statistical noise.

Naomi Oreskes
# 4
Naomi Oreskes

1958 - Present (63 years)

#2517 person's overall influence

Naomi Oreskes is a Professor of the History of Science, and an Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. She earned a B.S. in mining geology from the Royal School of Mines of the Imperial College of London. She went on to earn a Ph.D in geological research and history of science from Stanford University. Her body of work has encompassed geology, scientific methods, climate change, plate tectonics and the history and philosophy of science.

David Karoly
# 5
David Karoly

1955 - Present (66 years)

#14197 person's overall influence

David John Karoly is an Australian atmospheric scientist, currently based at CSIRO.

# 6
Ken Caldeira
#7767 person's overall influence

Kenneth Caldeira is an atmospheric scientist who works at the Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Global Ecology. He researches ocean acidification, climate effects of trees, intentional climate modification, and interactions in the global carbon cycle/climate system. He also acted as an inventor for Intellectual Ventures, a Seattle-based invention and patent company headed up by Nathan Myhrvold.

Clive Oppenheimer
# 7
Clive Oppenheimer

1964 - Present (57 years)

#37486 person's overall influence

Clive Oppenheimer is a professor of volcanology at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Geography. He earned a B.A. from University of Cambridge, where he studied their Natural Sciences Tripos, and a Ph.D from Open University. Oppenheimer has done substantial research work in Antarctica.

R. Stephen J. Sparks
# 8
R. Stephen J. Sparks

1949 - Present (72 years)

#36116 person's overall influence

Sir Robert Stephen John Sparks is the Changing Wills Professor of Geology for the University of Bristol’s Department of Earth Sciences (where he has been since 1989) and one of the leading volcanologists in the world. Sparks earned a B.Sc and a Ph.D from Imperial College in London. His work on igneous petrology and volcanology has been cited more than 10,000 times, making him among the ISI’s Most Highly Cited Researchers. His research has included fluid mechanics, sedimentology, and geophysics and included risk assessment for environmental hazards such as seismic disturbances and volcanic flow...

# 9
Keith Runcorn

1922 - 1995 (73 years)

#9719 person's overall influence

Keith Runcorn was a British physicist whose paleomagnetic reconstruction of the relative motions of Europe and America revived the theory of continental drift and was a major contribution to plate tectonics.

Kerry Emanuel
# 10
Kerry Emanuel

1955 - Present (66 years)

#10099 person's overall influence

Kerry Andrew Emanuel is an American professor of meteorology currently working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. In particular he has specialized in atmospheric convection and the mechanisms acting to intensify hurricaness. He was named one of the Time 100 influential people of 2006.

Robert Hazen
# 11
Robert Hazen

1948 - Present (73 years)

#20823 person's overall influence

Robert Miller Hazen is an astrobiologist and mineralogist. He earned a B.S. and S.M. in earth science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D in mineralogy and crystallography from Harvard University. Hazen is currently the Clarence Robinson Professor of Earth Science at George Mason University and the Executive Director of the Deep Carbon Observatory, a global research study of the impacts of carbon. He is also a research scientist for the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Earth and Planets Laboratory.

Christopher Jackson
# 12
Christopher Jackson

1977 - Present (44 years)

#34499 person's overall influence

Christopher Jackson is a professor of geology at Imperial College London. He earned a B.Sc and a Ph.D from the University of Manchester. Jackson’s work has focused on the evolution of sedimentary basins through stratigraphic, structural, and geodynamic forces. His revolutionary work has earned him a reputation as the leading interpreter of geological and seismic data of his generation.

# 13
George P. L. Walker

1926 - 2005 (79 years)

#48724 person's overall influence

George Patrick Leonard Walker was a British geologist who specialized in mineralogy and volcanology.

# 14
Ekhard Salje

1946 - Present (75 years)

#38369 person's overall influence

Ekhard Karl Hermann Salje, FRS is Professor of Mineralogy and Petrology and former Head of the Department of Earth Sciences, Cambridge University.

Prem Chand Pandey
# 15
Prem Chand Pandey

1945 - Present (76 years)

#58204 person's overall influence

Prem Chand Pandey is an Indian scientist and academic in the fields of Satellite Oceanography, Remote Sensing, Atmospheric Science, Antarctic and Climate Change

Isabelle Daniel
# 16
Isabelle Daniel

1968 - Present (53 years)

#62499 person's overall influence

Isabelle Daniel is a mineralogist for the Claude Bernard University Lyon 1. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s in Earth sciences at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon and her Ph.D from Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1. She went on to also earn a master’s in geology from the University of Rennes. Her research has focused on mineral interactions under the most extreme conditions available and the extreme pressure or temperatures create conditions inhospitable for life. She also studies the biosignatures of early life in near impossible conditions.

# 17
Timothy Ball

1938 - Present (83 years)

#43116 person's overall influence

Timothy Francis Ball is a Canadian public speaker and writer who was a professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Winnipeg from 1971 until his retirement in 1996. Ball then became very active in promoting climate change denial, giving public talks and writing opinion pieces and letters to the editor for Canadian newspapers. He has been a member of energy industry funded lobbying groups, and wrote for the climate change denial website Tech Central Station.

Kristin Vala Ragnarsdottir
# 18
Kristin Vala Ragnarsdottir

1954 - Present (67 years)

#42204 person's overall influence

Krístin Vala Ragnarsdóttir was born in Iceland. She is Professor of Sustainability Science with the Institute of Earth Sciences and the Institute of Sustainability Studies at the University of Iceland. She also served as the University of Iceland’s Dean of the School of Engineering and Natural Sciences from 2008 until 2012. Vala was the first woman to serve as Dean of a School at the University.

# 19
Kusala Rajendran
#71198 person's overall influence

Kusala Rajendran is an Indian seismologist and currently a professor at the Centre for Earth Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, India. She prefers to call herself an earth scientist. She has primarily worked on earth quakes and their source mechanisms. She has worked extensively on earth quake patterns in India and is considered to be one of the pioneers in this field.

# 20
Robert Kates

1929 - 2018 (89 years)

#53515 person's overall influence

Robert W. Kates was an American geographer and independent scholar in Trenton, Maine, and University Professor at Brown University.

# 21
Alan Nursall
#44482 person's overall influence

Alan Nursall is a Canadian scientist and television personality, who reports on science news for the Canadian television series Daily Planet and the Alan Nursall Experience on the Discovery Channel. He is head of the Telus World of Science - Edmonton.

Keith Beven
# 22
Keith Beven

1950 - Present (71 years)

#49814 person's overall influence

Keith John Beven is a British hydrologist and distinguished Emeritus Professor in Hydrology at Lancaster University. According to Lancaster University he is the most highly cited hydrologist.

# 23
Jan Veizer

1941 - Present (80 years)

#58742 person's overall influence

Ján Veizer is the Distinguished University Professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Ottawa and Institute for Geology, Mineralogy und Geophysics, of Bochum Ruhr University. He held the NSERC/Noranda/CIFAR Industrial Chair in Earth System Isotope and Environmental Geochemistry until 2004. He is an award-winning isotope geochemist; his research interests have included the use of chemical and isotopic techniques in determining Earth's climatic and environmental history.

# 24
Jerry D. Mahlman

1940 - 2012 (72 years)

#52014 person's overall influence

Jerry Mahlman was an American meteorologist and climatologist.

Ted Fujita
# 25
Ted Fujita

1920 - 1998 (78 years)

#16494 person's overall influence

was a Japanese-American meteorologist whose research primarily focused on severe weather. His research at the University of Chicago on severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and typhoons revolutionized the knowledge of each. Although he is best known for creating the Fujita scale of tornado intensity and damage., he also discovered downbursts and microbursts, and was an instrumental figure in advancing modern understanding of many severe weather phenomena and how they affect people and communities, especially through his work exploring the relationship between wind speed and damage.

Richard Alley
# 26
Richard Alley

1957 - Present (64 years)

#52243 person's overall influence

Richard Alley is the Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University and among the most highly cited researchers in the world. He attended Ohio State University before earning a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

John Tuzo Wilson
# 27
John Tuzo Wilson

1908 - 1993 (85 years)

#1150 person's overall influence

John Tuzo Wilson was a Canadian geophysicist and geologist who achieved worldwide acclaim for his contributions to the theory of plate tectonics.

# 28
Susan Kieffer

1942 - Present (79 years)

#58916 person's overall influence

Susan Elizabeth Werner Kieffer is an American physical geologist and planetary scientist. Kieffer is known for her work on the fluid dynamics of volcanoes, geysers, and rivers, and for her model of the thermodynamic properties of complex minerals. She has also contributed to the scientific understanding of meteorite impacts.

# 29
Bernard Wood
#55260 person's overall influence

Bernard John Wood is a British geologist, and Professor of Mineralogy at the Department of Earth Sciences at Oxford University. He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He has received awards from a number of other learned societies including the Mineralogical Society of America, the Geochemical Society, the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland, the European Geosciences Union, the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung , the Max Planck Gesellschaft , the Deutsche Mineralogische Gesellschaft and the Geological Society of London.

Matthew Zook
# 30
Matthew Zook
#30394 person's overall influence

Matthew Zook is an American geographer and professor in the Department of Geography, University of Kentucky. He studies the geography of the Internet, the GeoWeb, economic geography and domain names In 2009 Matthew Zook and Mark Graham cofounded the FloatingSheep blog to understand the interactions between the GeoWeb and the offline world. In 2011 Zook cofounded the New Mappings Collaboratory at the University of Kentucky to focus on public engagement in Lexington, 'big data' and user-generated Internet content, as well as the affordances of place-based thinking, analysis, and representatio...

Piers Sellers
# 31
Piers Sellers

1955 - 2016 (61 years)

#13153 person's overall influence

Piers John Sellers OBE was a British-American meteorologist, NASA astronaut and Director of the Earth Science Division at NASA/GSFC. He was a veteran of three space shuttle missions. Sellers attended Cranbrook School, Cranbrook, Kent, United Kingdom, until 1973, and achieved a bachelor's degree in ecological science from the University of Edinburgh in 1976. In 1981 he gained a doctorate in biometeorology from the University of Leeds. In 2011, Sellers retired from the NASA Astronaut Corps.

# 32
Edward Bullard

1907 - 1980 (73 years)

#6683 person's overall influence

Sir Edward "Teddy" Crisp Bullard FRS was a British geophysicist who is considered, along with Maurice Ewing, to have founded the discipline of marine geophysics. He developed the theory of the geodynamo, pioneered the use of seismology to study the sea floor, measured geothermal heat flow through the ocean crust, and found new evidence for the theory of continental drift.

# 33
Herbert Huppert

1943 - Present (78 years)

#34782 person's overall influence

Herbert Eric Huppert is an Australian-born geophysicist living in Britain. He has been Professor of Theoretical Geophysics and Foundation Director, Institute of Theoretical Geophysics, at the University of Cambridge, since 1989 and Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, since 1970.

Alexander Gerst
# 34
Alexander Gerst

1976 - Present (45 years)

#67318 person's overall influence

Alexander Gerst is a German European Space Agency astronaut and geophysicist, who was selected in 2009 to take part in space training. He was part of the International Space Station Expedition 40 and 41 from May to November 2014. Gerst returned to space on June 6, 2018, as part of Expedition 56/57. He was the Commander of the International Space Station. He returned to Earth on December 20, 2018. Since the end of his second mission, he holds the record for most time in space of any active ESA astronaut , succeeding Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli, and German ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter, who f...

# 35
John Pickles

1952 - Present (69 years)

#48774 person's overall influence

John Pickles currently serves as the Phillips Distinguished Professor of International Studies in the Department of Geography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Pickles attended the University of Oxford, where he obtained a bachelor's degree in Geography, with a minor in Geology, and a master's degree in Geography. He later earned doctorate degrees from the University of Natal, South Africa, and the Pennsylvania State University, United States. Pickles is a scholar in the areas of critical cartography, phenomenology, geography of media and communication and post-socialist s

# 36
Vladimir Keilis-Borok

1921 - 2013 (92 years)

#46452 person's overall influence

Vladimir Isaacovich Keilis-Borok was a Russian mathematical geophysicist and seismologist.

Nigel Thrift
# 37
Nigel Thrift

1949 - Present (72 years)

#20772 person's overall influence

Sir Nigel Thrift is the Executive Director of the Schwarzman Scholars and a noted geographer. Thrift studied geography at the University of Wales and earned a Ph.D from the University of Bristol. He has been influential in the fields of geography and economics, and is even credited with inventing the term soft capitalism.

# 38
Wendy Larner

1963 - Present (58 years)

#27940 person's overall influence

Wendy Larner is a New Zealand social scientist who has focussed on the interdisciplinary areas of globalisation, governance and gender. She is currently Provost at Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. In July 2018 she became the President of the Royal Society Te Apārangi, taking over from Richard Bedford.

James Lovelock
# 39
James Lovelock

1919 - Present (102 years)

#1004 person's overall influence

James Ephraim Lovelock, is an English independent scientist, environmentalist, and futurist. He is best known for proposing the Gaia hypothesis, which postulates that the Earth functions as a self-regulating system.

# 40
Stewart Turner

1930 - Present (91 years)

#74621 person's overall influence

Stewart Turner FAA FRS is an Australian geophysicist. He was educated at North Sydney Boys High School and Sydney University. He was awarded the 1851 Exhibition Scholarship to Cambridge. Since his retirement in 1996 has been Emeritus Professor and Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University. He is an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Royal Society , and was awarded the Australian Academy of Science's Matthew Flinders Medal and Lecture in 1990. Turner was Foundation Professor of Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian Nat...

Stuart Corbridge
# 41
Stuart Corbridge

1957 - Present (64 years)

#14535 person's overall influence

Stuart Edward Corbridge, FRGS is a British geographer and academic specialising in geopolitics, development studies, and India. Since September 2015, he has been Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University. From 2013 to 2015, he was Provost and Deputy Director of the London School of Economics. He was also Professor of Development Studies at LSE.

Bruce P. Luyendyk
# 42
Bruce P. Luyendyk

1943 - Present (78 years)

#60650 person's overall influence

Bruce P. Luyendyk is Professor Emeritus of marine geophysics at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and a geophysicist and oceanographer. He earned his B.Sc. in geology and geophysics from San Diego State University and a Ph.D. from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego. He completed his postdoctoral studies at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

# 43
Richard Doell

1923 - 2008 (85 years)

#41449 person's overall influence

Richard Doell was a distinguished American scientist known for developing the time scale for geomagnetic reversals with Allan V. Cox and Brent Dalrymple. This work was a major step in the development of plate tectonics. Doell shared the Vetlesen Prize with Cox and Dalrymple.

# 44
Allan V. Cox

1926 - 1987 (61 years)

#28062 person's overall influence

Allan Verne Cox was an American geophysicist. His work on dating geomagnetic reversals, with Richard Doell and Brent Dalrymple, made a major contribution to the theory of plate tectonics. Allan Cox won numerous awards, including the prestigious Vetlesen Prize, and was the president of the American Geophysical Union. He was the author of over a hundred scientific papers, and the author or editor of two books on plate tectonics. On January 27, 1987, Cox died in an apparent suicide.

Stephen J. Mackwell
# 45
Stephen J. Mackwell
#73552 person's overall influence

Stephen J. Mackwell is an internationally recognized researcher in geophysics, specializing in laboratory-based studies of the physical, chemical and mechanical properties of geological materials. He is also interested in the transport of fluid components in mantle and crustal rocks on the microscopic and macroscopic scales, and on the effects of such components on mechanical properties. He has authored or co-authored over 80 articles in international scientific journals and is an editor of a book on comparative climatology of terrestrial planets published by the University of Arizona Press.

# 46
Ellen Mosley-Thompson

1952 - Present (69 years)

#70012 person's overall influence

Ellen Mosley-Thompson is a glaciologist and climatologist. She is a Distinguished University Professor at The Ohio State University and Director of the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at OSU. She is known as a pioneer in the use of ice cores from the Polar Regions for paleoclimatic research and is an influential figure in climate science. She is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union and an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences.

# 47
Sachchida Nand Tripathi

1971 - Present (50 years)

#104974 person's overall influence

Sachchida Nand Tripathi is an Indian scientist who works in the field of Atmospheric Sciences. He is a Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and adjunct Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He received Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Awards-2014 for Science and Technology, the highest science award in India, in the Earth sciences category.

# 48
Jason Eric Box

1970 - Present (51 years)

#68970 person's overall influence

Jason Eric Box is professor in glaciology at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. For 10 years he worked at Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University, eventually a tenured physical climatology and geography associate professor in the department of geography. He has made more than 20 expeditions to Greenland since 1994, has spent more than one year on Greenland ice as a result of these expeditions, was for five consecutive years the lead author of the Greenland section of NOAA's annual State of the Climate report, was a contributing author to the IPCC AR4, and has authore

Terry Plank
# 49
Terry Plank

1963 - Present (58 years)

#109902 person's overall influence

Terry Plank is professor of earth science at Columbia University and for the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. A noted volcanologist and geochemist, Plank has studied the chemistry of volcanic minerals, and studied the development and emergence of magma flows. She earned a bachelor’s degree in earth sciences from Dartmouth College and her Ph.D from Columbia University.

Marcia McNutt
# 50
Marcia McNutt

1952 - Present (69 years)

#8440 person's overall influence

Marcia McNutt is the 22nd President of the United States’ National Academy of Sciences. She earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Colorado College and a Ph.D in earth sciences from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.