(January 5, 1864 – January 5, 1943)
A product of vision and acumen, George Washington Carver overcame daunting challenges to become one of the most renowned botanists in history. His agricultural revolutions transformed America. Having dedicated more than 50 years of his life to agronomical research (including 47 years as professor), his reputation stemmed from brilliant experiments on plant breeding, crop rotation, chemurgy, permaculture and alternative cropping. Amidst this fame, the TIME magazine dedicated one of its 1941 editorials to him (which was then a rare honor for a black American). Carver’s research on legumes, fruits and vegetables paved the way for lucrative alternatives to cotton. He not only devised better cultivation methods, but provided farmers with comprehensive bulletins which dealt with food and cash crops. Apart from being one of the most brilliant and influential biologists that ever lived, he was also among the first scientists who prioritized both ecological conservation and environmental protection. His ingenuity secured him consultancies to many institutes and companies. He coached Sweden’s Crown Prince Olaf Gustaf Adolf on botany, in addition to advising three U.S. Presidents (Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge and Franklin Roosevelt). Considering that he was born in bondage and endured color-bar restrictions, it is amazing that he achieved great honors. For example, the 1948 edition of 3 cents postage stamp bore his portrait, the half-dollar coin minted from 1951 to 1954 featured him, and the Second World War Liberty Ship SS George Washington Carver was built in his honor. Also dedicated to him are the 59-kilometer-wide Carver lunar impact crater and the 7042 Carver asteroid.