Slide 1 of 23
Coming to America
Throughout America's history, immigrants have played a vital part in shaping the country's growth and progress as a nation. They arrived seeking opportunities that were out of reach in their native lands; in many cases, they were escaping religious or ethnic persecution, or fleeing the horrors of war or natural disasters.
Scientists of all types have numbered among those pursuing a new life in America. In doing so, they brought expertise that significantly contributed to progress in their respective fields, advancing scientific discovery in disciplines ranging from theoretical physics to pathology to biochemistry.
Immigrant scientists have also received some of the highest accolades in science for their pioneering work; since 2000, 40 percent of the Nobel Prizes won by Americans in the areas of chemistry, medicine and physics — 31 of 78 awards — were earned by immigrants, Forbes reported.
Here are 11 scientists who began their scientific journeys in different countries — but eventually, the paths that they followed all converged in America, the country they came to call their home.
John James Audubon: Naturalist and artist (1785–1851)Slide 2 of 23
John James Audubon: Naturalist and artist (1785–1851)
John James Audubon was born in Saint Domingue (now known as Haiti) and grew up in Nantes, France. He was sent to America in 1803 at the age of 18, to avoid conscription into the French army.
Audubon investigated and documented observations of the natural world, showing a special interest in birds. He identified 25 bird species and 12 new subspecies, but he is perhaps best known for his extraordinarily lifelike drawings and paintings of birds in their natural habitats, drawn with careful attention to anatomical detail. His crowning achievement was the book, "Birds of America," which compiled 435 watercolor prints and is considered a landmark of wildlife illustration.Slide 3 of 23
John Muir: Naturalist and writer (1848–1914)Slide 4 of 23
John Muir: Naturalist and writer (1848–1914)
Naturalist and writer John Muir was born in Scotland, emigrating to Wisconsin with his family in 1849. Fascinated by wild spaces from a young age, Muir observed and wrote extensively about the beauty of the natural world. He was especially captivated by the California landscape, particularly Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Muir published 10 books and 300 articles describing his travels, and promoting an appreciation for nature and conservation. He was instrumental in the creation of several national parks, including Yosemite, Petrified Forest, Mount Rainier and Grand Canyon, and he worked closely with President Theodore Roosevelt to establish conservation programs across the country.Slide 5 of 23
Albert Einstein: Theoretical physicist (1879–1955)Slide 6 of 23
Albert Einstein: Theoretical physicist (1879–1955)
Born in Germany, Albert Einstein followed a more convoluted path than most toward his eventual American citizenship.
Einstein renounced his German citizenship in 1896 at the age of 17, and became a Swiss citizen in 1901. He entered the civil service in Germany in 1914 and regained his German citizenship, only to renounce it and flee the country in 1933, spurred by anti-Semitism and the growing power of the Nazi party. After emigrating to America to accept a position as a professor of theoretical physics at Princeton, Einstein became an American citizen in 1940, maintaining dual citizenship with Switzerland.
Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921 for his explanation of the photoelectric effect — how light creates electricity — with the groundbreaking observation that light behaved as a particle as well as a wave. He is also known for developing the theory of special relativity, which describes the relationship between space and time, and the theory of general relativity, defining gravity as linked to the curvature of space and time — the first major theory about gravity since Newton's in 1687.Slide 7 of 23
Gerty Cori: Biochemist (1896–1957)Slide 8 of 23