As a recent biology grad, I have many an idol in the field. Would I deliberately name my child after one of them? Doubtful, but there is certainly a wide variety of wonderful names to choose from!
James Watson- One of the first, along with Crick, Franklin, and Maurice Wilkins, to recognize the double helical structure of DNA. I can’t see sweet and sophisticated James ever going out of style.Watson would make an interesting choice for the daring namer, and would fit in with popular surname names.
Francis Crick- Collaborated with Watson in the discovery of the double helical structure of DNA.Francis is dated, but could be usable, considering the vintage trend. I cannot bring myself to advocate for naming a child Crick!
Rosalind Franklin- An X-ray crystallographer whose X-ray diffraction images led Watson and Crick to their realization of the structure of DNA. Franklin died at the age of 37, and therefore did not share in the Nobel Prize awarded for the work. Her contribution to the discovery and status as a pioneering figure for young women in science continue to be recognized nonetheless. Rosalind would be a beautiful, sophisticated vintage choice. Franklin may be so old it’s new again.
Carl Linnaeus- (Also Carolus Linnaeus and Carl Von Linne) Known as the father of modern taxonomy. Carl is clean and simple; Linnaeus might be a bit out there. The female name Linnea, however, comes from the genus name for the twinflower, which is named for Linnaeus himself.Linnaea would be a usable alternate spelling.
Thomas Huxley- An English biologist nicknamed “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his public support of Darwin’s ideas. Thomas is a great classic, and Huxley would make a unique, modern choice, with Huck as a potential nickname.
Gregor Mendel- The “father of modern genetics,” Mendel is best known for discovering the laws of inheritance by studying pea plants. I find Gregor to be a darling international option. Mendel would be an unusual and very obvious reference.
Elizabeth Blackburn- A molecular biologist who has made important contributions to the study of telomeres and the telomerase enzyme. You can never go wrong with a sophisticated classic likeElizabeth, and it has such a great variety of nicknames!
Frederick Sanger– The winner of two Nobel Prizes, Sanger made important strides in the areas of protein structure and DNA sequencing. While Frederick is a handsome choice, Sanger is a bit much for me. But hey, there were 7 Sadler’s, 8 Satchel’s, and 7 Sender’s born last year, so maybe Sanger will appeal to someone.
Kary Mullis A major contributor to the improvement of the polymerase chain reaction, an important method for amplifying DNA sequences. Both Kary and Mullis would make unique, potentially unisex choices.
Matthias Schleiden A German botanist best known for his contribution to cell theory, along with Theodor Schwann and Rudolph Virchow. I think Matthias is a very accessible international option. It’s off the grid and fairly rare in the USA, yet it’s stylish and on-trend. With its connection to Matthew, Matthias suits the ‘different, not weird’ criteria perfectly!
I do regret the lack of females on this list. Of course, the list is not comprehensive, and I hope that with these ladies paving the way, there will be even more wonderfully-named women to add in the years to come!
Feel free to add your own favorite biologist’s name to the list!