Benjamin Franklin is a well known American renaissance man (his inventions and contributions to society are almost countless, so here, I will focus on his scientific achievements). In 1743, Franklin observed that northeast storms and their origins. From his observations, he worked out a method of to track and predict the path of storms. He recorded his observations in his Poor Richard’s Almanac. He also was amongst the first observers to chart the gulf stream and its variant temperature. Franklin is also the inventor of many commonly used inventions, including, bifocals, the Franklin stoves, flexible urinary catheters (his brother had kidney stones), lighting rods, compartmentaly organized ships, odometers, and glass armonica.
New School: Linus Pauling
Pauling was an American chemist and was amongst the first scientists who did research regarding quantum chemistry and molecular biology. He won a Nobel Prize in 1954 for his work in the nature of the chemical bond, particularly the concept of electronegativity, a scale of how attracted different atoms are to one another. Pauling also researched DNA through X-ray crystallography. He was beaten by Watson and Crick, but provided them with a large amount of information which helped them discoverer the double helix. Pauling was also a staunch opponent of above ground nuclear testing and won the Nobel Peace prize in 1962. Towards the end of his life, he became very interested in the chemistry and application of vitamins, particularly vitamin C and advocated for its increased consumption.