Scientists are perhaps one of the most important groups of people who have the ability to impact our lives more profoundly than any other. In a sense, their wealth is secondary to the contribution they can and have made to societies and communities. Here is our pick of scientists who have not only made money, they have also made contributions that have improved our lives and our understanding of the world in ways that are beyond our imagination.
1. Kathleen Taylor
Net Worth: $500,000
Made famous by her book “Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control” published in 2004, in which she took on the subject of “brainwashing” of individuals in different circumstances. In the book, she analyses “brainwashing” by comparing the techniques used by cults and totalitarian regimes, such as communist societies. She posited that brainwashed people have more rigid pathways and they are less likely to be able to rethink situations or be receptive to new information or creative stimuli.
she also laid out a tool to combat influence and a totalist mindset which she called FACET: Freedom, Agency, Complexity, Ends-not-means, and Thinking.
A researcher at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy, and Genetics in Oxford University, Taylor graduated from Oxford with undergraduate as well as doctorate degrees. Her Ph.D. was in computational neuroscience. She also received a master’s degree in psychology from Stirling University in Scotland.
She is the recipient of the THES/OUP Science Essay competition and the THES Humanities and Social Sciences Writing Prize. Brainwashing was runner-up in the 2005 Times Higher Education Supplement Young Academic Author Award and it also made the shortlist for the 2005 MIND “Book of the Year Award” and the longlist of the 2005 Aventis “Science Book Prize”, where it was described as containing “elegant and accessible prose”.
Kathleen has published other books, notably, The Brain Supremacy in 2012 and The Fragile Brain in 2016, the former explores the latest advances in neuroscience and their impact on societies and ethics and the latter examines dementia and its effects on victims, families, and society.
While there is no publicly available financial information about Taylor’s net worth, we estimate her net worth as of 2020 to be approximately $500,000.
2. Neil deGrasse Tyson
Net Worth: $5 million
Neil Tyson is an astrophysicist, planetary scientist, author, and science presenter. He has been decorated with various awards, including the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal in 2004, the Klopsteg Memorial Award in 2007, and the Public Welfare Medal in 2015.
He is perhaps most popularly known as the presenter of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a television series which is the successor to Carl Sagan’s 1980s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. Tyson has often been invited to talk shows on television and has appeared in Bill Maher’s program, on Saturday Night Live, and other shows.
One of his notable successes was overseeing the $210 million reconstruction project when he was director of the Planetarium in 2000.
Tyson graduated from Harvard University, the University of Texas at Austin and Columbia University where he received his undergraduate, master’s, and PhD degrees. He was a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University from 1991 to 1994.
In 2015, he began hosting a late-night talk show called Star Talk on the National Geographic Channel where Tyson interviewed pop culture celebrities and asked them about their life experience with science.
Tyson has also broadcasted extensively on his views on science and spirituality. He once famously said:
“For me, when I say spiritual, I’m referring to a feeling you would have that connects you to the universe in a way that it may defy simple vocabulary. We think about the universe as an intellectual playground, which it surely is, but the moment you learn something that touches an emotion rather than just something intellectual, I would call that a spiritual encounter with the universe.”
As of 2020, Neil deGrasse Tyson is estimated to have a net worth of $5 million. He is, after all, a celebrity scientist.
3. Stephen Hawking
Net Worth: $20 million
Stephen Hawking is one of the most well-known scientists for his discoveries and theories of black holes in space. In particular, he discovered that black holes emitted radiation. Hawkings was also often in the news because of his atheism, often clashing with traditional religions.
Stephen Hawkins was, of course, the brilliant theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author that we’ve come to know through news media, his presentations, public lectures, and cameo roles in television series. He was the Lucasian professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 until 2009.
Hawkins enrolled in Oxford at the age of 17 and graduated with a first-class degree in physics. He began his graduate work in Trinity Hall Cambridge in 1962 and obtained his Ph.D. in applied mathematics and theoretical physics, specializing in general relativity and cosmology in 1963.
He achieved commercial success with his work on cosmology, often giving public lectures and published numerous books. His A Brief History of Time was on the bestseller list of the Sunday Times for 237 weeks.
Hawkings was popular also because he took part in an interview alongside Arthur C. Clarke, and Carl Sagan in God, the Universe and Everything Else, where the three cosmologists talked about the existence of God, the universe, and the possibility of life in Space.
Hawkings also appeared in various television series and documentaries. He was in an episode of Star Trek: The Third Generation in 1993, voiced an episode of The Simpsons, appeared in documentaries titled after himself, and even had a recurring role in The Big Bang Theory. He allowed his voice to be used in the Academy Award-winning film The Theory of Everything in which British actor, Eddie Redmayne played Hawkings.
Hawking was a Fellow of the Royal Society, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. In 2002, Hawking was ranked number 25 in the BBC’s poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. He died on 14 March 2018 at the age of 76, after living with motor neurone disease for more than 50 years.
The contribution made by this incredible cosmologist to the world of cosmology and quantum physics has been invaluable. As of 2020, Stephen Hawkings was estimated to have a net worth of $20 million at the time of his death in 2018.
4. Richard Dawkins
Net Worth: $15 million
Richard Dawkins was a fierce critic of religion and the belief that God exists. His two famous books, The Blind Watchmaker published in 1986 argued that evolution is a process that is like a blind watchmaker, in that reproduction, mutation and selection are not controlled or guided by a designer or super-being. In the God Delusion, Dawkins contended that a supernatural creator does not exist and that religious faith is a delusion.
Dawkins studied zoology at Balliol College, Oxford University, graduating in 1962. He was under the tutelage of Nobel Prize-winning ethologist Nikolaas Tinbergen who was his supervisor for his MA and Ph.D. Tinbergen was a pioneer in the study of animal behavior, particularly in the areas of instinct, learning, and choice. Dawkins’s research in this period concerned models of animal decision-making.
Dawkins gave numerous public lectures, a lot of which were his theories about evolution and the lack of any intelligent design or religion.
For his work, Richard Dawkins received honorary degrees from numerous universities, and In 1987, Dawkins received a Royal Society of Literature award and a Los Angeles Times Literary Prize for his book The Blind Watchmaker. In the same year, he received a Sci. Tech Prize for Best Television Documentary Science Programme of the Year for his work on the BBC’s Horizon episode The Blind Watchmaker.
As of 2020, this sometimes controversial but brilliant evolutionary biologist is estimated to have a personal fortune of $15 million.
5. Jane Goodall
Net Worth: $20 million
Jane Goodall is known worldwide for her study of chimpanzee social and family life. She started living with these primates in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania in 1960. She was the first to discover that chimpanzees had unique and individual personalities, and responded like humans to joys, sorrows, and anger. Instead of naming her study subjects by numbers, she gave them names like Greybeard and Frodo, which was unusual at the time.
There have been numerous documentaries made about Jane’s work and her journey back to Tanzania, the most famous of which is the 2010 Jane’s Journey starring Jane Goodall, Angelina Jolie, and Pierce Brosnan. Needless to say, she’s also written scores of books and published numerous articles.
She is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and the Roots & Shoots program and she has worked extensively on conservation and animal welfare issues. She has served on the board of the Nonhuman Rights Project since its founding in 1996. In April 2002, she was named a UN Messenger of Peace. Goodall is also an honorary member of the World Future Council.
Jane first came into contact with primates when she visited the farm of a friend in the Kenya highlands in 1957. As she had been interested in animals and their behavior, she was encouraged by her friend to telephone Louis Leakey the famous Kenyan archaeologist and paleontologist to discuss animals. Leakey offered her a job as his secretary and sent Goodall to Olduvai Gorge in Tanganyika (present-day Tanzania), where he then informed her of his plans for her. In 1960, having raised funding, Goodall was sent by Leakey to Gombe Stream National Park to observe and study chimpanzees.
It was also Leakey who in 1962 sent Goodall to the University of Cambridge to study where she graduated with a Ph.D. without even having graduated with her undergraduate degree.
Jane is often invited to talk on television and radio programs and her wisdom and intellect are both continue to educate and guide us all today.
Jane is also the recipient of numerous honors and awards. In 2019, Time magazine named her as of the 100 most influential people in the world.
As of 2020, we estimate Jane Goodall to have a personal fortune of some $20 million.
6. James Watson
Net Worth: $20 billion
James Watson is a molecular biologist, geneticist, and zoologist. In 1953, he co-authored an academic paper with Francis Crick proposing the double helix structure of the DNA molecule. Watson, Crick, and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material”.
In subsequent years, it has been recognized that Watson and his colleagues did not properly attribute colleague Rosalind Franklin for her contributions to the discovery of the double helix structure.
Watson earned degrees at the University of Chicago, 1947 and Indiana University Ph.D., 1950. Following a post-doctoral year at the University of Copenhagen with Herman Kalckar and Ole Maaløe, Watson worked at the University of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory in England, where he first met his future collaborator Francis Crick. From 1956 to 1976, Watson was on the faculty of the Harvard University Biology Department, promoting research in molecular biology.
From 1968 Watson served as director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), greatly expanding its level of funding and research. At CSHL, he shifted his research emphasis to the study of cancer, along with making it a world-leading research center in molecular biology. In 1994, he started as president and served for 10 years. He was then appointed chancellor until he resigned in 2007 after a controversial comment he made about a genetic link between intelligence and race.
In 2019, following the broadcast of a documentary in which Watson reiterated these views on race and genetics, CSHL revoked his honorary titles and severed all ties with him.
Watson has written many science books, including the textbook Molecular Biology of the Gene (1965) and his bestselling book The Double Helix (1968). Between 1988 and 1992, Watson was associated with the National Institutes of Health, helping to establish the Human Genome Project, which completed the task of mapping the human genome in 2003.
As of 2020, James Watson who was an early investor in Facebook is estimated to be worth $20 billion.
7. Gordon Moore
Net Worth: $9.3 billion
Gordon Moore enrolled at the California Institute of Technology in 1950 where he graduated in physics and obtained his doctoral degree in chemistry in 1954.
Moore did his post-doctoral research at the Applied Physics Laboratory at John Hopkins University from1953 to 1956.
Initially joining Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory a division of Beckman Instruments, Moore left to join Fairchild Semiconductors corporation. While at Fairchild, Moore famously predicted that the rate of the number of components (in transistors, resistors, and other capacitors) in an integrated circuit board would grow at least at the time in the next ten years. He later said it would grow every two years, leading to the phrase Moore’s Law.
In 1968, Robert Noyce and Moore founded NM Electronics which later became Intel Corporation. Moore served as its executive vice president until 1975 when he was made chairman. Moore would serve as chairman and chief executive office until 1987. Under Noyce and Moore, Intel pioneered new technologies in computer memory, integrated circuit boards, and microprocessor designs.
Moore has received numerous distinguishing awards and honors for his work and inventions. As of 2020, Gordon Moore is estimated to have a personal wealth of $9.3 billion.
8. Ronda Stryker
Net Worth: $6 billion
Ronda Stryker is a granddaughter of Homer Stryker, the founder of medical equipment manufacturer Stryker Corporation. Stryker Corporation develops and distributes products which include implants used in joint replacement and trauma surgeries; surgical equipment and surgical navigation systems; endoscopic and communications systems; patient handling and emergency medical equipment; neurosurgical, neurovascular and spinal devices; as well as other medical device products, used in a variety of medical specialties.
Ronda a director of Stryker Corporation for over 30 years, as of 2020, and she has been at the forefront of many of the company’s innovations and product development.
Stryker has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado, and a master’s from Western Michigan University. She is also a member of the Harvard Medical School board of fellows.
As of 2020, Ronda Stryker is estimated to have a personal fortune of about $6 billion.
9. James Dyson
Net Worth: $6.5 billion
James Dyson is a British inventor, industrial designer, landowner, and entrepreneur who founded Dyson Ltd. He is best known as the inventor of the Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner, which works on the principle of cyclonic separation. According to the Sunday Times Rich List 2020, he is Britain’s richest person with an estimated net worth of £16.2 billion.
He served as the Provost of the Royal College of Art from August 2011 to July 2017, and opened a new University, the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology, on Dyson’s Wiltshire Campus in September 2017.
Dyson spent one year (1965–1966) at the Byam Shaw School of Art, and then studied furniture and interior design at the Royal College of Art (1966–1970) before moving into engineering.
Dyson’s early invention was the Sea Truck in 1970 while studying at the Royal College of Art. His first original invention, the Ballbarrow, was a modified version of a wheelbarrow using a ball instead of a wheel. This was featured on the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World television program. Dyson stuck with the idea of a ball, inventing the Trolleyball, a trolley that launched boats. He then designed the Wheelboat, which could travel at speeds of 64 kilometers per hour (40 mph) on both land and water.
Dyson’s other famous invention is the dual cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner. He had the idea of using cyclonic separation to create a vacuum cleaner that would not lose suction as it picked up dirt. He became frustrated with his Hoover Junior’s diminishing performance. He found that the dust bag pores kept becoming clogged with dust reducing suction. The cyclone idea came from a sawmill that used cyclone technology.
Dyson, today is a resident in Singapore and has moved a large part of his business Dyson Ltd to.
As of 2020, James Dyson is thought to have a personal wealth of $6.5 billion.
10. Tim Berners Lee
Net Worth: $60 million
Tim Berners Lee is best known for inventing perhaps the most important and life-changing invention of the 21st century, and some would say of all time. He is the inventor of the World Wide Web.
Berners Lee is a computer scientist and Professorial Fellow of Computer Science at the University of Oxford and a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
On 12 March 1989, Berners-Lee created an information management system, then implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the internet in mid-November. He is currently the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) which oversees the continued development of the Web. He is also the founder of the World Wide Web Foundation and is a senior researcher and holder of the 3Com founders’ chair at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). He is a director of the Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI) and a member of the advisory board of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence.
In 2004, Berners-Lee was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his pioneering work. In April 2009, he was elected a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences.
He was named in Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century and has received a number of honors and accolades for his invention and work. He was honored as the “Inventor of the World Wide Web” during the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in which he appeared working with a vintage NeXT Computer at the London Olympic Stadium. In 2016, he was awarded the Turing Award “for inventing the World Wide Web, the first web browser, and the fundamental protocols and algorithms allowing the Web to scale.
As of 2020, Tim Berners Lee is estimated to have built up a net worth of $60 million.