The Dynasties of Science

The auto industry had the Fords, oil had the Rockefellers, and politics had the Kennedys. Science, too, has its legacy lineages.

By Lacy Schley|Monday, April 10, 2017

The Curies

Marie_Curie_c1920
Marie_Curie_c1920
Marie Curie
Pierre Curie
(1859-1906)
Physicist and chemist

Originally specialized in crystallography, but joined his wife’s research. Their discovery of radioactive elements radium and polonium earned them the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics, shared with Henri Becquerel.

Marie Curie
(1867-1934)
Chemist and physicist

Won a second Nobel Prize, in chemistry, in 1911, for continued study of radioactive elements.

Irène Joliot-Curie
(1897–1956)
Chemist

Shared the 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with her husband for research on radioactivity and for creating the first artificial radioactive element, phosphorus.

Ève Curie Labouisse

(1904–2007)
Writer, journalist and diplomat
Best remembered for writing Madame Curie, a best-selling biography of her mother.

The Alvarezes

515px-Luis_Alvarez_-_Nobel_with_Balloon
515px-Luis_Alvarez_-_Nobel_with_Balloon
Luis Walter Alvarez
Wikimedia Commons
Luis Fernandez Alvarez
(1853–1937)
Physician

Developed a better way to diagnose the macular form of leprosy.

Walter C. Alvarez
(1884–1978)
Physician
Pioneered the study of the stomach’s electrical activity and founded electrogastrography, a non-invasive technique for diagnosing certain digestive conditions.

Luis Walter Alvarez
(1911–1988)
Physicist

Contributed to the Manhattan Project and several key government radar projects in World War II; won the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physics for work on a liquid hydrogen bubble chamber.

Walter Alvarez
(1940– )
Geologist
Along with his father, developed the hypothesis that an asteroid impact wiped out the dinosaurs.

The Leakeys

800pxMaryDouglasNicolLeakey19131996andherhusbandLouisSeymourBazettLeakey19031972
800pxMaryDouglasNicolLeakey19131996andherhusbandLouisSeymourBazettLeakey19031972
Louis and Mary Leakey digging in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania.
Wikimedia Commons
Louis Leakey
(1903–1972)
Archaeologist and paleoanthropologist

Key figure in advancing the theory of our African origins; also promoted primate field research and helped Jane Goodall get her start.

Mary Leakey
(1913–1996)
Archaeologist and paleoanthropologist

Sometimes working with Louis and sometimes on her own, made several major hominin finds, including Homo habilis, our distant ancestor.

Colin Leakey
(1933– )
Plant biologist

Currently a leading expert on the genetics of beans.

Richard Leakey
(1944– )
Paleoanthropologist
Primarily known for coordinating several important African digs, his leadership of Kenyan cultural and wildlife conservation groups, and his positions in Kenyan government.

Meave Leakey
(1942– )
Paleoanthropologist

Has led teams in Africa’s Turkana Basin that have discovered new hominin species.

Louise Leakey
(1972– )
Paleontologist and anthropologist

Heads the Koobi Fora Research Project, which focuses on finding human fossils in the Turkana Basin.

The Herschels

504px-John_Herschel00
504px-John_Herschel00
John Herschel
Wikimedia Commons
Sir William Herschel
(1738–1822)
Astronomer

Besides discovering Uranus and making many other astronomical observations, was the first to map the Milky Way’s disk-like shape.

Sir John Herschel
(1792–1871)
Astronomer, mathematician, chemist and photographer

Among many other things, helped found the Royal Astronomical Society; made significant contributions to cataloging the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky and to the field of photography.

Caroline Lucretia Herschel
(1750–1848)
Astronomer

Valuable assistant to her brother and an astronomer in her own right: Her discoveries include eight comets.

Alexander Stewart Herschel
(1836–1907)
Astronomer

Made many observations of astronomical objects, including meteors and comets.

William James Herschel
(1833–1917)
British officer
One of the first people to use fingerprints for identification.
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