University of Edinburgh
#13 Overall Influence

University of Edinburgh

Public research university in Edinburgh, Scotland

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By James Barham, PhD

In spite of dating back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the University of Edinburgh is only the fourth-oldest university in Scotland (after St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Aberdeen), hence the sixth-oldest in the English-speaking world (with Oxford and Cambridge, of course, in first and second positions).

As the city of Edinburgh itself grew in importance, however, its university also came to dominate its Scottish rivals. That is why, for such a relatively “young” university, Edinburgh is associated with a quite remarkable list of intellectual luminaries, including the following, including, during the seventeenth century, the well-known Presbyterian theologian, Samuel Rutherford.

During the following eighteenth-century – the Scottish Enlightenment – Edinburgh was home to a veritable galaxy of celebrated thinkers, including:

  • Philosophers, David Hume, Adam Smith, & Adam Ferguson
  • Theologian and mathematician, Thomas Bayes
  • Theologian, educator, and signer of the US Declaration of Independence, John Witherspoon
  • Physician and US Declaration of Independence—signer, Benjamin Rush
  • Lawyer, US Declaration of Independence – signer, and US Supreme Court Justice, James Wilson
  • Physicist, Joseph Black
  • Geologist, James Hutton
  • Celebrated author of the Life of Johnson, James Boswell

During the Victoria era, two of the most-influential scientists of all time, the naturalist Charles Darwin and the physicist James Clerk Maxwell, both studied here. Other nineteenth-century, Edinburgh-connected scientists include the botanist Robert Brown (the first person to observe what is now called “Brownian motion”); the physician Joseph Lister (a pioneer of antiseptic surgery); and Alexander Graham Bell (the inventor of the telephone).

We may also mention:

  • Philosopher, James Frederick Ferrier
  • Novelists Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, & Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Playwright, J.M. Barrie
  • Neoclassical architect, William Henry Playfair
  • Satirist and cultural critic, Thomas Carlyle

As for the twentieth century, among 19 Nobel Prize – winners who have been associated with the University of Edinburgh, we may mention:

  • Max Born and Peter Higg–physics
  • Peter Mitchell–chemistry
  • Hermann Muller, Alexander Fleming, and May-Britt Moser–physiology or medicine

There have been four Edinburgh-connected Turing Award – winners, namely:

  • Robin Milner
  • Alan Kay
  • Leslie Valiant
  • Geoffrey Hinton

Scientific breakthroughs that have occurred here include the first cloning of a mammal (the sheep Dolly) and the first genetically engineered hepatitis B vaccine. Edinburgh scientists also helped design the world’s first industrial-assembly robotic system.

From Wikipedia

The University of Edinburgh , founded in 1582, is the sixth oldest university in the United Kingdom and English-speaking world and one of Scotland's ancient universities. The university has five main campuses in the city of Edinburgh, which include many buildings of historical and architectural significance such as those in Old Town. The university played an important role in Edinburgh becoming a chief intellectual centre during the Scottish Enlightenment, contributing to the city being nicknamed the "Athens of the North".

Source: Wikipedia

Influential People

Who are University of Edinburgh's Most influential alumni?

University of Edinburgh's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of . University of Edinburgh’s most academically influential people include George Kelly , Nigel Shadbolt, and Alison Jaggar.

George Kelly
George Kelly

American psychologist and therapist

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Nigel Shadbolt
Nigel Shadbolt

Prinicipal of Jesus College, Oxford; Professor of Computer Science; Chairman of the Open Data Institute

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Alison Jaggar

Feminist philosopher

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James Burnett, Lord Monboddo
James Burnett, Lord Monboddo

Scottish judge, scholar of language evolution and philosopher

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Aaron Sloman

Philosopher and researcher on artificial intelligence and cognitive science

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A. S. Neill
A. S. Neill

Scottish educator and theorist

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Henry Widdowson

British linguist

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Thomas Mitchell
Thomas Mitchell

Scottish surveyor and explorer of south-eastern Australia

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James Cowles Prichard
James Cowles Prichard

English physician and anthropologist

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John Rae

Canadian economist

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Ebenezer Erskine
Ebenezer Erskine

Scottish theologian

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D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson
D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson

Scottish biologist, mathematician, and classics scholar

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