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Solar Energy Engineering & Commercialization

A research guide outlining various resources useful to students in the Solar Energy Engineering & Commercialization program at Arizona State University.

Biographies and Where to Find Biographical Information

Search Strategies:

  • In electronic resources, try the name both in direct format (john smith) as well as indirect format (smith, john)
  • Look for variations in their name such as nicknames, initials, and alternative spellings.
  • If looking for autobiographies, search the individual as an author
  • If looking for items about the individual (includes both autobiographies and biographies written by others), search the individual as KEYWORD or SUBJECT.

General Science & Engineering Biographical Resources

  1. Abbott, David, ed. The Biographical Dictionary of Scientists: Engineers and Inventors . London: Blond Educational, 1984. 
  2. Q141 .B56x volume 6 Science Reference
    TA139 .B56 1986 West Reference and Stacks 

    From Nicolas Appert to Vladimir Kosma Zworykin, this work provides biographical information on famous engineers and inventors from antiquity to the present. In addition to some general biographical information, each entry concentrates mainly on the contributions each person made to the field of engineering. Line drawings are used in order to enhance the text. The length of each biographical entry varies from one half to one or more pages. A glossary and a subject index can be found at the end of the volume.
  3. Biographical Memoirs. Washington: National Academy Press, 1877- .
    Q141 .N2 Science Reference (Has v4, v12 (1,4,6), v14, v20 (9-10), v24-v58, v61, v63, v65)

    Biographical information on members of the National Academy of Sciences are presented within these volumes. Each biographical entry focuses on the education and the scientific contributions that each member made to his/her field. Entries can range from several to ten or more pages. A signed photograph accompanies each biographical memoir. In addition a bibliography of works published by the National Academy of Sciences member can be found at the end of each biographical discussion.

    In addition to being freely available on the web at the 
    National Academy site, many volumes of the memoirs are also available in the Ebrary collection. 
  4. Carvill, James. Famous Names in Engineering. London: Butterworths, 1981.
    TA139 .C37 1981 Science Reference

    Arranged alphabetically by last name of the individual, this work represents a compilation of biographical sketches of the lives and works of the major pioneers in engineering. It should be noted that many of the people listed were also known as physicists, mathematicians, etc. Accompanied by a portrait these biographical sketches are approximately one page in length. A diagram or graph is used to illustrate the contribution each made to the engineering field. In the beginning of the work the names of the individuals are arranged alphabetically, by subject, and chronologically. In addition, a brief bibliography is presented for each of the pioneers listed.
  5. Catalog of the Scientific Community: 16th and 17th centuries 

    Compiled by Richard S. Westfall, this site provides detailed biographies on members of the scientific community during the 16th and 17th centuries. Emphasis for each entry are vital facts regarding the person profiled as well as their contributions to science. This is a searchable site. Nineteen fields are available for searching. Among them are name, nationality, scientific discipline, means of support, religion, patronage, etc.
  6. Biographies: The Scientists
    Biographies: The Inventors of the Industrial Revolution

    Web site offering brief biographical information including contributions in the fields of Law, Literature, Philosophy, Economics, The Scientists, The Inventors, Historians, and Early Acadians & Nova Scotians.
  7. Eric Weisstein's World of Scientific Biography 

    Arranged alphabetically or by discipline, this set developed by Eric Weisstein presents brief biographies of famous scientists from antiquity to the present. These brief biographies run from one to several paragraphs in length. No picture or photograph is included. 
  8. Faces of Science: African Americans in the Sciences

    African American scientists are alphabetically listed under their major scientific discipline. For each person listed, the birth and death dates (when applicable), place of birth, and the individuals' contributions to the sciences are presented. A photograph accompanies many entries. 
  9. Famous Engineers (American Society for Engineering Education)
    List of inventors and engineers famous in their fields, plus people who studied engineering but became artists, entertainers, politicians, and CEOs. 
  10. Famous Engineers (iCivilEngineer)
    Amount of information varies; includes links to other web sites with information on the engineer.
  11. Famous Engineer Series (PDHengineer)
    Stories of engineers with interesting twists, oddities and irony.
  12. 4000 Years of Women in Science 

    Biographical information on women scientists. Length of biographies vary.
  13. Gale Virtual Reference Library

    • American Men & Women in Science (22nd/2005 and 23rd/2007 edition
  14. Gillispie, Charles Coulston, ed. Dictionary of Scientific Biography . 18 vols. New York: Scribner (published under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies), 1970-1990.
    Q141 .D5x Science Reference, West Reference, Hayden Reference 

    This classical biographical set includes deceased scientists who have made significant contributions to the world of science; the more significant, the better chance for inclusion. It considers persons from ancient Greece through and including the twentieth century. For each person listed, a biographical sketch discussing the scientist's contribution to his/her specific field is noted. These biographical depictions can run from several to 20 or more pages. Diagrams and mathematical formulas are used in order to supplement and explain the text. A lengthy bibliography listing works by and about the scientist, can be found at the end of each entry. This massive work also contains a subject index which allows one to determine scientists that were associated with a specific idea, such as "proofs that the world is round." This is an excellent work. 
  15. Great Canadian Scientists

    An in-depth look at over 250 great Canadian scientists of our time. The type of scientist and major achievement is listed first. For each scientist chosen birth and death dates (when appropriate), residence, office, family members, title, status, degrees, awards, mentors, personality, favorite music and other interests are presented in an outline style. In addition the site offers textural information regarding the scientists work. A photograph of each of the scientists is also included. 
  16. Hutchinson Dictionary of Scientific Biography. 2nd ed. Helicon Publishing, 2005.   

    Arrangement is alphabetical by last name of the scientists.
  17. Indexes of Biographies 

    This is not an index in the most traditional sense of the word. Rather this site provides short biographical sketches of scientists and engineers from antiquity to the present. Arrangement is alphabetically by last name as well as chronologically.
  18. Invention Dimension: Inventor of the Week Archives

    This site depicts those inventors that were featured on Invention Dimension, which highlights a different inventor each week. For each inventor listed a picture and some general information on the invention is given. Please note this site takes some time to load.
  19. Memorial Tributes . 10 volumes . Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Engineering, 1979-2002.
    TA139 .N34A 1979 Science Reference
    Volumes 57, and 10 are available online via Ebrary

    The purpose of this biographical compilation is to honor the deceased members and foreign associates of the Academy of Engineering. Coverage begins as of December 1964. The biographical sketches considers vital biographical information and the contributions each made to the engineering field. A portrait of each person accompanies the sketch.
  20. People and Discoveries

    What's the story behind electroshock therapy? Who's responsible for increasing the size of the universe? The answers to these and many other questions await you in this web site, which represents a databank consisting of 120 entries about 20th century scientists and their stories. 
  21. Scientist Biographies

    Brief biographies and contributions to the field of science. 
  22. Simmons, John. The Scientific 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Scientists, Past and Present  Secaucus, N.J.: Carol Publishing Group, 1996.
    Q148 .S55 1996 Science Reference, West Stacks 

    Beginning with Isaac Newton and the Newtonian Revolution to Archimedes and the Beginning of Science, this work provides short biographical sketches on each of the 100 most influential scientists according to the author, John Simmons. For each scientist listed, basic biographical information, along with the major contributions made to science are given. In addition a portrait of each can be found at the beginning of the entry. Most entries are approximately 4 to 5 pages in length. The writing is very clear, i.e. one does not need to be a scientist to enjoy and appreciate the work that was done by the chosen 100. Inexcusable omissions, honorable mentions, and also-rans are featured near the end of the work. A list of source notes, a bibliography, and a name/subject index completes the volume. 
  23. Strange Science: Biographies

    Biographies of just some of the people--scientists, artists and collectors--who contributed to what we know today.
  24. Zierdt-Warshaw, Linda, Alan Windler, and Leonard Bernstein. American Women in Technology: An Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2000.
    T36 .Z54 2000 Science Reference, West Reference 

    This work provides biographical information on women that have made a contribution to technology. Technological fields, besides engineering, include among others, medicine, pharmacology, space exploration, and agriculture. The biographical information provided includes, in most cases, birth and death dates, a synopsis of their work, and a short bibliography. In some cases photographs are included.

    In addition to the biographies a wide variety of additional terms are discussed, such as the Manhattan Project, Argonne National Laboratory, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, etc.

  25. Also browse the ASU Library Catalog for the following:

Business Biographical Resources:

To find information on company executives, try the following business databases:

  1. Mergent Online
  2. North American Million Dollar Database
  3. Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage

Also browse the ASU Library Catalog for:

General Biographical Resources:

The following items provide biographical information for people from a wide range of professions and/or are famous (infamous) for a variety of reasons.

  1. Biography and Master Genealogy Index
    Indicates where biographical information is available about individuals, both living and deceased, from every field of activity and from all areas of the world, so you are able to quickly determine which publications to consult.  The types of publications indexed are biographical dictionaries, who's who, subject encyclopedias, etc; however, periodical articles or books of biography about a single individual are not included (see the "Books" and "Journal Articles" TABs above to find these types of items). 
  2. Distinguished Women of Past and Present
  3. Encyclopedia Britannica
  4. Gale Virtual Reference Library

    • Dictionary of Women Worldwide
    • Encyclopedia of World Biography
  5. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
    Information about people who contributed to the history of the British Isles.

Note: If the ASU Library don't have the book or journal article that you need, you may request the item via our Interlibrary Loan Service.

The ASU Library acknowledges the twenty-three Native Nations that have inhabited this land for centuries. Arizona State University's four campuses are located in the Salt River Valley on ancestral territories of Indigenous peoples, including the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee Posh (Maricopa) Indian Communities, whose care and keeping of these lands allows us to be here today. ASU Library acknowledges the sovereignty of these nations and seeks to foster an environment of success and possibility for Native American students and patrons. We are advocates for the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge systems and research methodologies within contemporary library practice. ASU Library welcomes members of the Akimel O’odham and Pee Posh, and all Native nations to the Library.