The chemists and biologists among you may have already deduced from whom we derive our name: Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleyev (alternatively spelled Mendeleev), who developed the periodic table of elements, and Gregor Mendel, who is often called the "father of modern genetics".
We liked the analogies: Just as Gregor Mendel studied the inheritance of traits in plants, Mendeley will enable you to trace how ideas and academic theories evolve and cross-pollinate each other. Dmitri Mendeleyev formed the periodic table based on the properties of known elements, then used this data to predict the properties of elements yet to be discovered - and Mendeley will help you discover new literature based on the known elements in your library.
That was the short version. If you're interested, here's the full story of how our name evolved from B-movie monster to Mendeley.