Do you know any examples of people who became scientists in the later period of their lives?
The only person of this kind I know is Craig Venter
Venter was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. In his youth, he did not take his education seriously, preferring to spend his time on the water in boats or surfing.[citation needed] According to his biography, A Life Decoded, he was said to never be a terribly engaged student, having Cs and Ds on his eighth-grade report cards.[5]
Although he was against the Vietnam War,[6] Venter was drafted and enlisted in the United States Navy where he worked in the intensive-care ward of a field hospital.[7] While in Vietnam, he attempted to commit suicide by swimming out to sea, but changed his mind more than a mile out.[8] Being confronted with wounded, maimed, and dying soldiers on a daily basis instilled in him a desire to study medicine[9] — although he later switched to biomedical research.

Venter graduated from Mills High School and began his college career at a community college, College of San Mateo in California. He received his B.S. degree in biochemistry in 1972, and his Ph.D. degree in physiology and pharmacology in 1975, both from the University of California, San Diego. At UCSD, he studied under biochemist Nathan O. Kaplan,[10] and married former Ph.D. candidate Barbara Rae.[11][12][13][14] After working as an associate professor, and later as full professor, at the State University of New York at Buffalo, he joined the National Institutes of Health in 1984. In Buffalo, he divorced Dr. Rae-Venter and married his student, Claire M. Fraser,[12] remaining married to her until 2005.[15]

So, basically, the guy didn’t do well in school at all (Cs and Ds), went to war, went to a community college, then afterwards got his B.S. when he was already 25-26 y.o. , Ph.D. at 28-29.

Now he is rich, famous. He was listed on Time magazine’s 2007 and 2008 Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. In 2010, the British magazine New Statesman listed Craig Venter at 14th in the list of "The World’s 50 Most Influential Figures 2010".
Also, he’s a recipient of Kistler Prize (2008), ENI award (2008), National Medal of Science (2008).

Do you know any other examples?

Maybe not necessarily that much later in life, but at least where it happened rather unpredictably, sporadically. Like this guy didn’t see it coming (him becoming a scientist) until he was in his late 20s , early 30s.

Most notable example gets the points!


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Categories: Dear UBI

One Response

  1. Lightsmith says:

    Ben Franklin should qualify as a notable example of someone who did most of his scientific work later in life.
    "At age 42, Franklin retired from the printing profession. He then devoted his time to other studies, especially science. These were very productive years in his life, bringing him world-wide fame as a scientific thinker."

    "It’s a scandal, because Benjamin Franklin was, without a doubt, the greatest scientist of his age. Although he receives almost no credit for it today, Franklin’s theory of electricity lies at the heart of modern electrostatics. Through his invention of the lightning rod, Franklin was the first person to prove that pure science could benefit ordinary people."

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