Top 30 Famous Russian Scientists That You Should Know

Top 30 Famous Russian Scientists That You Should Know

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To celebrate scientists and scientific advancements, we have collected a list of the most famous Russian scientists that will inspire us for the greater good.

Many geniuses were born or lived in Russia and gained fame worldwide. They constitute a list of the most important scientists in Russian history and the world. But how did these talented people revolutionize technology? 

We combed through answers from the Nobel Prize, videos, and encyclopedias. This list results from thorough research and contains credible information from top publications.

Here are the 30 most famous Russian scientists whose contributions shaped modern Russian science.

Table of Contents

Famous Russian Scientists

#30. Sergei Korolev (1907-1966): The Father of Practical Astronautics

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: Military Review
Credits: Military Review

What makes Sergei Korolev famous?

Sergei Korolev was born in the Russian Empire in 1906. He was an influential Soviet engineer during the Space Race between the Soviet Union and the US.

Korolev played a key role in the design and development of the Soviet Union’s missiles and artificial satellites. His work made it possible for Yuri Gagarin to become the first person to go to space.

Korolev possessed unparalleled design integration and strategic planning skills. This is evident throughout his career. He won many honors and awards, including the Order of Lenin, which he won three times.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#29. Mikhail Lomonosov (1711-1765): The Founder of Geology

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: The Famous People
Credits: The Famous People

What makes Mikhail Lomonosov famous?

Mikhail Lomonosov was born in the Russian Empire on November 19, 1711. He is famous for his contributions to science, literature, and education.

This Russian polymath specialized in mineralogy, chemistry, natural science, physics, and more. He discovered the atmosphere of Venus and the concept of conservation of mass in chemistry. 

Lomonosov was one of the poets who revolutionized Russian literature. His efforts influenced the establishment of the Russian literary language.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#28. Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944): The Scientist Who Recorded High-Quality Images of 20th Russia

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: Library of Congress
Credits: Library of Congress

What makes Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii famous?

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, born in Murrom, was a photographer and chemist. He is best known for his attempt to document Russia. 

Prokudin-Gorskii was an expert in color photography. He traversed Russia between 1909 and 1915 with the aim of recording the country’s aspects. 

While most of his pictures were lost, the US Library of Science houses most of them. The negatives were useful in producing quality images of 20th-century Russia.

[Source: Library of Congress]

#27. Andrey Kolmogorov (1903-1987): The Pioneering Mathematician

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: The Famous People
Credits: The Famous People

What makes Andrey Kolmogorov famous?

Andrey Kolmogorov was born in Tambov on April 25, 1903. He lost his mother, Maria Kolmogorova, at birth. 

At a young age, Kolmogorov became known for his math talents. He started contributing to his school’s journal, “The Swallow of Spring,” at the age of five.

Andrey Kolmogorov is recognized as a great mathematician for his contributions to algorithmic information theory, computational complexity, topology, and probability theory, among others.

He received many honors and awards for his outstanding contribution to mathematics. The awards included the Wolf Prize, the Lenin Prize, and the Lobachevsky Prize.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#26. Pafnuty Chebyshev (1821-1894): Founding Founder Father of Russian Mathematics

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: Wikipedia
Credits: Wikipedia

What makes Pafnuty Chebyshev famous?

Pafnuty Chebyshev was a mathematician born in Akatovo on May 16, 1821. He is best known for his work in number theory, mechanics, probability, and statistics.

Many concepts in mathematics are named in honor of this great scientist. They include the Chebyshev inequality, the Chebyshev bias, Chebyshev polynomials, and the Bertrand-Chebyshev theorem.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#25. Yuri Oganessian (1933-present): The Co-Discoverer of The Heaviest Element In The Periodic Table

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: Wikipedia
Credits: Wikipedia

What makes Yuri Oganessian famous?

Yuri Oganessian was a Russian-born Armenian scientist best known for his work in nuclear physics.

His research focused on superheavy chemical elements. Oganessian is widely recognized for his contribution to the discovery of the heaviest element in the periodic table. This chemical element was named after him. Therefore, it’s called Oganesson.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#24. Vladimir Vernadsky (1863-1945): One of The Founders of Biogeochemistry and Radiogeology

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: The Famous People
Credits: The Famous People

What makes Vladimir Vernadsky famous?

Vladimir Vernadsky was a Soviet scientist born in Saint Petersburg on February 28, 1863. He is known for his work on biogeochemistry, geochemistry, and radiogeology. 

Although Vernadsky was considered a Ukrainian scientist, he didn’t accept Ukrainian citizenship in 1918. 

Vladimir Vernadsky is most famous for his book, The Biosphere, which popularized the term biosphere. Eduard Suess coined this term in 1885 to explain life on Earth.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#23. Leonid Kantorovich (1912-1986): The Founder of Linear Programming 

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: Scientific Russia
Credits: Scientific Russia

What makes Leonid Kantorovich famous?

Leonid Kantorovich is best known for his contributions to economics and mathematics. He is recognized for developing techniques that address the allocation of resources. Kantorovich also pioneered linear programming in mathematics.

He was born on January 12, 1912 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. For his work, Leonid Kantorovich received the prestigious Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics and the Stalin Prize.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

#22. Alexander Friedmann (1888-1925): The Soviet Scientist Who Explained The Theory of The Expanding Universe Using Mathematical Equations

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: Popular Bio
Credits: Popular Bio

What makes Alexander Friedmann famous?

Alexander Friedmann was a Russian mathematician and physicist born on June 16, 1888, in Saint Petersburg.

He is best known for developing the Friedmann equations that explain the concept of an expanding universe.

[Source: The Physics of The Universe]

#21. Aleksandr Borodin (1833-1887): The Artist Who Made A Name For Himself in Science

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: Classic FM
Credits: Classic FM

What makes Alexsandr Borodin famous?

Alexsandr Borodin was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was an accomplished composer, although his primary focus was scientific research.

Borodin worked as a chemist, where his research in organic synthesis revolutionized the subject. His first major contribution to the field came when he demonstrated nucleophilic substitution. He is credited with being one of the first organic synthesists to demonstrate nucleophilic substitution reactions in organic chemistry.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#20. Trofim Lysenko (1898-1976): The Scientist Who Believed Gregor Mendel Was Wrong

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: Wikipedia
Credits: Wikipedia

What makes Trofim Lysenko famous?

The Russian biologist, Trofim Lysenko, is a controversial figure in the history of agriculture. He was born in 1898 and became an agronomist in the Russian Empire. He would eventually become the director of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.

Lysenko is known for his criticism of science-based agriculture and advocacy of a Lamarckian inheritance, which favored behavior over genetics.

His work at the time focused on improving crop yields by changing plant genetics, but he believed it was impossible to change plant genetics through selective breeding. Lysenko argued that Mendelian genetics was irrelevant and that Lamarckian inheritance should take precedence.

[Source: The Atlantic ]

#19. Vladimir Demikhov (1916-1998): The Father of Organ Transplantation

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: Amusing Planet
Credits: Amusing Planet

What makes Vladimir Demikhov famous?

Vladimir Demikhov was a Russian scientist known for pioneering organ transplantation, which is the process of replacing damaged or diseased organs with healthy ones from another individual.

Demikhov transplanted a second head onto a dog—an unprecedented feat at the time. This experiment revolutionized medicine.

[Source: National Library of Medicine]

#18. George Gamow (1904-1968): The Scientist Who Explained Alpha Decay

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: The Famous People
Credits: The Famous People

What makes George Gamow famous?

George Gamow was a Russian cosmologist, theoretical physicist, and author. His work on the big bang theory earned him a place in the history books as one of the most influential physicists of the 20th century. He is best known for his contributions to nuclear physics and cosmology.

Gamow explained alpha decay using concepts of theoretical physics. His contributions to nuclear physics include developing the liquid drop model, which is useful in studying atomic nuclei.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica ]

#17. Ilya Prigogine (1917-2003): The Nobel Prize-Winning Chemist

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: The Famous People
Credits: The Famous People

What makes Ilya Prigogine famous?

Ilya Prigogine was a Russian physical chemist who was one of the most influential physicists of the 20th century. His studies focused on irreversibility, complex systems, and dissipative structures.

Prigogine received the 1977 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in chemical thermodynamics. He is also known for his work regarding non-equilibrium thermodynamics.

[Source: The Nobel Prize ]

#16. Alexander Stepanovich Popov (1859-1906): The Father of Radio

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: Hackaday
Credits: Hackaday

What makes Alexander Stepanovich Popov famous?

Alexander Stepanovich Popov was born in the Russian Empire. He is famous for his studies in radio science.

Popov invented a device for receiving radio signals. It consisted of a tuned circuit that would detect radio signals by frequency. 

This invention made it possible for people to listen to radio broadcasts. Popov’s invention is still used in many forms, including the television remote control (which uses the same principles).

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica ]

#15. Konstantin Novoselov (1974-present): The Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: Encyclopedia Britannica
Credits: Encyclopedia Britannica

What makes Konstantin Novoselov famous?

Konstantin Novoselov is a Russian-born physicist who shared the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics with Andre Geim for their work on graphene, an allotrope of carbon.

Graphene is a material so thin it can be stretched over a tennis court and still have room to spare. It’s strong enough to stop a bullet and flexible enough to wrap around an atom. Its properties are so impressive that it’s considered the thinnest and strongest known material.

Novoselov and Geim could isolate graphene from graphite—a form of carbon that has already been widely used in products ranging from pencils to plastics—and prove its unique properties. 

[Source: The Nobel Prize ]

#14. Vitaly Ginzburg (1916-2009): One of The Influential Russian Scientists in The Soviet Atomic Project

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: Physics World
Credits: Physics World

What makes Vitaly Ginzburg famous?

Vitaly Ginzburg was a theoretical physicist known for his work on developing thermonuclear weapons in the Soviet atomic project. He also shared the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics with Antony Lengglett and Alexei Abrikosov for their work on superfluidity and superconductors.

[Source: The Nobel Prize]

#13. Pyotr Kapitsa (1894-1984): Award-Winning Scientist Who Studied Matter At Low Temperatures

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: The Famous People
Credits: The Famous People

What makes Pyotr Kapitsa famous?

Pyotr Kapitsa was a Russian-born physicist who made some of the most important contributions to low-temperature physics. He was awarded the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work.

Kapitsa’s research focused on problems related to the structure and properties of matter at very low temperatures. His work helped to create the foundation for our understanding of magnetic and superconductivity phenomena and many other areas of physics.

[Source: The Nobel Prize ]

#12. Zhores Ivanovich Alferov (1930-2019): The Scientist Who Paved The Way For Laser Technology 

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: The New York Times
Credits: The New York Times

What makes Zhores Ivanovich Alferov famous?

Zhores Ivanovich Alferov, born in the Soviet Union, is known for his work in the field of physics. He was one of the most influential Russian scientists during his time. His discoveries have been pivotal to modern electronics and optoelectronics.

Alferov pioneered the study of heterostructure physics and electronics by developing heterojunction in optoelectronics and earned the Nobel Prize in Physics for this work (2000). 

[Source: The Nobel Prize]

#11. Leonhard Euler (1707-1783): The Pioneering Mathematician Who Made Important Discoveries in Physics And Mathematics

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: Biography
Credits: Biography

What makes Leonard Euler famous?

Leonard Euler was a Swiss-born Russian mathematician, logician, physicist, and astronomer. He is best known for his work in several branches of mathematics, physics, and astronomy.

Euler studied mathematics from a young age. He gained admission to the University of Basel at the age of 13. At this institution, Leonhard Euler studied under Johann Bernoulli, one of the greatest mathematicians of all time.

His most prominent works include the discovery of infinitesimal calculus and graph theory. Euler also contributed to topology and analytic number theory. 

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#10. Dmitri Ivanovsky (1864-1920): The Co-Discoverer of Virus

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: Linda Hall Library
Credits: Linda Hall Library

What makes Dmitri Ivanovsky famous?

Dmitri Ivanovsky was a Russian botanist who made many contributions to virology. In addition to co-discovering the virus, Ivanovsky pioneered research in the fields of virology and immunology. 

He studied the effects of viruses on plants, animals, and humans, and his work helped lay the foundation for future studies in those areas.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#9. Alexei Alexeyevich Abrikosov (1928-2017): The Nobel Laureate Who Shaped Our Understanding of Condensed Matter Physics

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: The University of Utah
Credits: The University of Utah

What makes Alexei Alexeyevich Abrikosov famous?

Alexei Alexeyevich Abrikosov was a theoretical physicist from Moscow who made important contributions to understanding condensed matter physics.

In his early years, he worked with Antony James Leggett and Vitaly Ginzburg to explain the properties of matter at low temperatures. This research earned them a joint Nobel Prize in Physics in 2003. 

In addition to his work on the physics of matter at low temperatures, Abrikosov also contributed to the development of quantum electrodynamics (QED).

What is the best Alexei Alexeyevich Abrikosov quote?

“If they can, in their proposals write the word nano. The chances for funding increase.”

[Source: The Nobel Prize]

#8. Pavel Cherenkov (1904-1990): The Nobel Laureate Who Characterized Cherenkov Radiation in Physics

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: The Famous People
Credits: The Famous People

What makes Pavel Cherenkov famous?

Pavel Cherenkov is a physicist born in Russia on July 28, 1904. He was known for his discoveries in physics and research into the theory of Cherenkov radiation.

Cherenkov’s work with Igor Tamm and Ilya Frank was instrumental in their discovery of Cherenkov radiation, which they published in the 1950s. Their discovery was the reason they received the 1958 Nobel Prize in Physics.

[Source: The Nobel Prize]

#7. Nikolay Semyonov (1896-1986): The Nobel Prize-Winning Chemist

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: Google Arts & Culture
Credits: Google Arts & Culture

What makes Nikolay Semyonov famous?

Nikolay Semyonov was a chemist and physicist who was known for his research on chemical processes.

Semyonov’s study focused on chemical transformation, which earned him the 1956 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

He also co-discovered the method other prominent scientists could use to investigate the magnetic field of the atomic nucleus. His work with this subject won him a great deal of acclaim.

What is the best Nikolay Semyonov quote?

“No inspiration comes from nowhere. No invention is based on nothing. You always need to be tuned up and be ready to start receiving the energy you look for.”

[Source: The Nobel Prize ]

#6. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935): The Founding Father of Modern Rocketry

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: New World Encyclopedia
Credits: New World Encyclopedia

What makes Konstantin Tsiolkovsky famous?

When you think of the history of space travel, you likely think of astronauts who traveled to the moon. But did you know that Russian rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky was one of the people who led to the design of this technology?

He is best known for his contributions to research on interplanetary flight, especially the astronautic theory.

Tsiolkovsky believed that rockets could be used for travel in outer space—a belief that would eventually lead to the creation of the Soviet space program. His work influenced many other rocket scientists who created their own theories about how rockets work and how they could travel into outer space.

What is the best Konstantin Tsiolkovsky quote?

“The Earth is the cradle of humanity. But one doesn’t always live in the cradle.”

[Source: NASA]

#5. Dmitri Mendeleev (1834-1907): The Man Who Created The Periodic Table of Elements

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: The Famous People 
Credits: The Famous People 

What makes Dmitri Mendeleev famous?

Dmitri Mendeleev was a Russian chemist who, in 1869, created a version of the periodic table and predicted three new chemical elements.

Mendeleev’s first periodic table (or “Mendeleev table”) described the properties of chemical elements based on their atomic numbers. 

Many scientists at the time did not well receive his work—some even called it “speculation” and “untrue.” Dmitri Mendeleev correctly predicted gallium, germanium, and scandium.

What is the best Dmitri Mendeleev quote?

“I saw in a dream a table where all the elements fell into place as required. Awakening, I immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper.”

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#4. Grigori Perelman (1966-present): The Pioneering Mathematician Who Revolutionized Geometry 

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: The Famous People
Credits: The Famous People

What makes Grigori Perelman famous?

The story of Grigori Perelman is one of many tales of the brilliance and madness that can come with making groundbreaking discoveries. Born in Leningrad in 1966, he began his mathematical career as a student at the Leningrad Secondary School 239.

Grigori Perelman is known for his contributions to Riemannian geometry. He proved the soul theorem and made significant contributions to the field of geometric analysis. 

Leningrad is also famous for proving the Poincare Conjecture, which has changed everything about how mathematicians think about space.

What is the best Grigori Perelman quote?

“Emptiness is everywhere and it can be calculated, which gives us a great opportunity. I know how to control the universe. So tell me, why should I run for a million?”

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#3. Georg Cantor (1845-1918): The Award-Winning Mathematician Who Contributed to Our Understanding of Set Theory

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: The Famous People
Credits: The Famous People

What makes Georg Cantor famous?

Georg Cantor is one of the names that come to mind when you think of Russian mathematicians who have made an impact in math.

He was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. His contributions to mathematics include the development of set theory.

Cantor coined the transfinite numbers theory for these numbers. This concept encountered fierce opposition from established mathematicians like Leopold Kronecker, who did not approve of Cantor’s work.

Georg Cantor earned the highest award receivable by a mathematician, the Sylvester Medal.

What is the best Georg Cantor quote?

“To ask the right question is harder than to answer it.”

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#2. Lev Landau (1908-1968): The Nobel Prize-Winning Theoretical Physicist

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: Evening Standard
Credits: Evening Standard

What makes  Lev Landau famous?

Lev Landau was born in the Russian Empire, and he rose to become one of the most important figures in history. 

Landau is best known for his contributions to theoretical physics, particularly quantum mechanics. He co-discovered the density matrix that is essential in quantum mechanics. He also developed the theory of diamagnetism. 

But it was his concept of superfluidity that earned him global recognition. It helped scientists understand liquid helium II. Lev Landau received the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on this theory.

What is the best Lev Landau quote?

“Everybody has a capacity for a happy life. All these talks about how difficult times we live in, that’s just a clever way to justify fear and laziness.”

[Source: The Nobel Prize]

#1. Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989): The Father of the Soviet Union’s Hydrogen Bomb

Famous Russian Scientists : Credits: Atomic Archive
Credits: Atomic Archive

What makes Andrei Aleksandrovich Sakharov famous?

Andrei Aleksandrovich Sakharov was a Soviet nuclear physicist and activist who became a dissident against the Soviet Union’s government.

He was a brilliant scientist who helped contribute to Russian research into thermonuclear weapons by designing Soviet nuclear weapons, particularly the hydrogen bomb, RDS-37. While he worked towards developing weapons, Sakharov did not participate in World War II. Instead, he served in a factory during this time.

Sakharov would call for peace with his efforts to push for disarmament, earning him the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize.

What is the best Andrei Sakharov quote?

“A country which does not respect the rights of its own citizens will not respect the rights of its neighbors.”

[Source: The Nobel Prize]

Final Thoughts

Russia is a country that has always produced some of the world’s best scientists and inventors. These Russian scientists have contributed in a very significant way to improving the knowledge that is available to our species. 

Another top scientist whose contributions are as revolutionary as the people in our article is Sofia Kovalevskaya, the first female professor in Northern Europe.

The scientists’ quest for answers is inspirational and encouraging at the same time. It gives hope that your dreams can come true if you have enough will and patience to achieve them.

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Joannah W.
Joannah has been a science publisher with close to 20 years of experience. She wants to help students and researchers stay ahead of the trends and developments in the science community by making science more accessible to everyone.

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