Vladimir Vernadsky (1863-1945), a Russian scientist, is considered to be one of the founders of geochemistry and biogeochemistry. The son of a professor, Vernadsky graduated from St. Petersburg University in 1885 and became curator of the university's mineralogical collection in 1886. In 1890 he became a lecturer on mineralogy and crystallography at Moscow University, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1897.
He served as a professor at Moscow University from 1898 to 1911. After the Revolution he was active in scientific and organisational activities. He founded and directed (from 1927) the biogeochemical laboratory of the Academy of Sciences at Leningrad (St. Petersburg).
Vernadsky's initial work was in mineralogy. He was also a pioneer in geochemistry. He made a detailed study of the Earth and chemical processes going on in its crust, including the migration of chemical elements.
Vernadsky was one of the first scientists to recognise the tremendous potential of radioactivity as a source of energy, and he was also one of the first to put forward the idea that radioactivity is vital to many processes of the Earth's life. His later years were taken up with the study of the life processes in the atmosphere and in the Earth's crust.
Vernadsky is regarded the founder of the theory of the biosphere, that is the total mass of living organisms, which process and recycle the energy and nutrients available from the environment. His name is well known today. For example, an avenue and a metro station in Moscow bear the name of Vernadsky.