Since 1901, The Nobel Prize has been awarded for gripping achievements in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace. The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was later added to the endowments. Africans have received awards in five of the six Nobel prize categories: Peace, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Chemistry. From 1901 – 2017, the Nobel Prizes and the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences were awarded to 950 people and organizations. Some received more than once, making a 923 total of individuals (including 844 men, 48 women) and 27 organizations. Of the 923 individual laureates, less than 50 Nobel laureates are from Africa. Likewise, 5 out of this number were awarded the Nobel prize in the Science fields. Here are the 5 African Scientists who are Nobel Laureates:
Max Theiler (30 January 1899 – 11 August 1972)
Theiler was a South African-American virologist and physician. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1951. This was for his work in developing a vaccine against yellow fever in 1937. As a result, he became the first African-born Nobel laureate.
Allan MacLeod Cormack (February 23, 1924 – May 7, 1998)
Allan Cormack was a South African American physicist who won the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He won the prize along with Godfrey Hounsfield for their independent work on X-ray computed tomography. Cormack’s side interest in x-ray technology led him to develop the theoretical underpinnings of CT scanning. These papers generated little interest until Hounsfield and colleagues built the first CT scanner in 1971. It was built by taking Cormack’s theoretical calculations into a real application.
Ahmed Hassan Zewail (February 26, 1946 – August 2, 2016)
Ahmed Zewail was an Egyptian-American chemist, known as the “father of femtochemistry“.] He was awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on femtochemistry. This made him the first Egyptian to win a Nobel Prize in a scientific field. He received the prize for his pioneering work showing that it is possible to see how atoms in a molecule move during a chemical reaction with flashes of laser light.
Sydney Brenner (13 January 1927 – 5 April 2019)
Brenner was a South African biologist. In 2002, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with H. Robert Horvitz and Sir John E. Sulston. Brenner made significant contributions to work on the genetic code and other areas of molecular biology. Furthermore, he established the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism for the investigation of developmental biology. Moreso, he founded the Molecular Sciences Institute in Berkeley, California, United States.
Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (born 1 April 1933)
Claude Cohen-Tannoudji is a French Algerian physicist. He shared the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics with Steven Chu and William Daniel Phillips for research in methods of laser cooling and trapping atoms. Cohen-Tannoudji was the first physics Nobel prize winner born in an Arab country. Currently, he is still an active researcher, working at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris.