MIT innovators were in the spotlight again this year as Forbes unveiled its annual list of the top leaders, founders, and creators under 30 years old. Spanning 20 fields that range broadly from science to enterprise technology to social impact, the 30 Under 30 list includes 23 MIT alumni and five other members of the Institute community.
The contributions of this group run the gamut from developing tablets that can rapidly disinfect water to furthering sustainable plastics manufacturing. Alums on the list are expanding educational opportunities, creating next-generation electrolyzers, designing technology for the blind, and much more.
“Unconventional thinking is at the heart of Forbes’ Under 30 list, and amidst war, market crashes, and layoffs, tomorrow’s brightest minds continue to forge new paths forward,” Forbes assistant managing editor Steven Bertoni said in unveiling the list. Visit Forbes’ 30 Under 30 website for the full list and to learn more about those from MIT. Also, check out how MIT did last year.
Pelkins Ajanoh ’18 (Social Impact)
CassVita has invented a patent-pending biotechnology for increasing the shelf life of cassava, a woody shrub, thereby raising the incomes of over 1,000 smallholder farmers.
Andrew “Drew” Bent ’18 (Education)
Together with cofounder Mariah Olson and other partners, Bent built a free, peer-to-peer tutoring web app that helps more than 27,000 learners from 150 countries.
Briana Chen ’16 (Healthcare)
Postdoctoral Fellow, Columbia University
Chen’s work has uncovered that women are twice as likely as men to develop depression but often have some different symptoms. She is creating the first female-specific antidepressants.
Kezi Cheng ’15 (Manufacturing & Industry)
Cofounder, Flo Materials
Cheng cofounded Flo Materials to commercialize a new class of recyclable polymers to enable sustainable plastics manufacturing. The company is working to scale its materials for use by eyewear frame manufacturers.
Supratim Das SM ’18, MBA ’22, PhD ’22 (Energy)
Senior Associate, Corporate Development, Electric Hydrogen
Das heads corporate development at Electric Hydrogen, which has devised next-gen electrolyzers and raised $200 million toward building an electrolysis plant to enable clean, abundant hydrogen.
Brad Eckert ’15 (Consumer Technology)
The Koko product Full Sleep monitors and analyzes sleep patterns using radar technology without wearables or cameras. The product includes a sleep program and a sleep coach.
Youhong Guo, Postdoc (Science)
Postdoctoral Researcher, MIT
Guo develops new polymer materials for practical, sustainable purposes—for example, nanostructured hydrogel tablets that can rapidly disinfect water or turn salt water fresh.
Cameron Halliday SM ’19, MBA ’22, PhD ’22 (Energy)
Cofounder and CEO, Mantel Capture
Mantel’s carbon capture technology involves using molten borate salts to absorb carbon dioxide created in high-temperature environments such as boilers, kilns, and furnaces. The goal is to reduce industry emissions.
Rupamathi Jaddivada PhD ’20, Postdoc (Energy)
Director of Innovation, SmartGridz
Jaddivada develops electric power systems at SmartGridz, which aims to increase access to reliable low-carbon electricity. She has devised power system simulation and automation software.
Karan Kashyap ’17, MEng ’17 and Matthew McEachern ’17, MEng ’18 (Enterprise Technology)
Posh Technologies builds artificial intelligence chatbots for regional banks and other financial institutions to communicate with customers. The technology comes out of research Kashyap and McEachern conducted at MIT.
Allison Koenecke ’14 (Science)
Assistant Professor, Cornell University
Koenecke’s work is aimed at correcting bias in underlying algorithms. She is an expert on racial disparities in speech recognition systems, showing they yield poorer results for Black users.
Victoria Li ’15 (Finance)
As therapists increasingly get their income from multiple sources, their accounting has gotten more complicated. Li cofounded Heard in 2019 to help therapists manage back-office finances.
Jasper Lienhard ’15, PhD ’22 (Manufacturing & Industry)
Cofounder, Foundation Alloy
Foundation Alloy is commercializing a new class of metal materials that Lienhard says can be “fabricated with less time, less energy, and better outcomes than legacy materials.”
Peter McHale MBA ’22 (Manufacturing & Industry)
Cofounder, Gaia AI
Gaia AI is applying artificial intelligence and robotics to make forests a viable carbon sequestration solution by helping landowners, project developers, and investors measure the carbon content of a forest with high accuracy.
Olamide Oladeji SM ’18 and Izunna Okonkwo ’16 (Social Impact)
Oladeji and Okonkwo cofounded Pastel with Abuzar Royesh to provide offline-enabled software tools for small businesses. Pastel operates in 40 countries.
Zara Perumal ’16, MEng ’18 (Enterprise Technology)
Cofounder, Overwatch Data
Overwatch Data automates global risk detection for companies. Perumal previously researched cyberattacks on elections and used machine learning to track disinformation.
Malena Rice, Postdoc (Science)
Postdoctoral Fellow, MIT
Rice, who will start a professorship at Yale in 2023, is on a hunt for undiscovered planets in the distant solar system using a new machine-learning algorithm.
Charles Roques-Carmes SM ’18, PhD ’22, Postdoc (Science)
Postdoctoral Researcher, MIT
Roques-Carmes designs nanostructures in which light’s properties are drastically modified. This could lead to more sensitive X-ray detectors and low-dose X-ray CT scanners.
Daniel Schwalbe-Koda PhD ’22 (Science)
Postdoctoral Fellow, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Schwalbe-Koda is developing new, low-cost, sustainable materials by tasking large supercomputers with simulating formulas that have the highest probability of working.
Nicholas Selby SM ’18, PhD ’21 (Energy)
Director of Engineering, Renewvia Solar Africa
Renewvia designs, installs, owns, and operates commercial and community solar power systems across multiple continents. Selby is currently building solar-powered minigrids to bring electricity to thousands of refugees and to rural communities.
Tomás Vega SM ’19 (Social Impact)
Cofounder, Augmental Tech
Vega and cofounder Corten Singer are building a “mouth mouse”: a smart oral splint that enables hands-free human-computer interaction—empowering people living with impaired hand control to live more independently.
Chonghe Wang, Doctoral Student (Science)
Doctoral Student, MIT
Wang is working on wearable ultrasound technology that could monitor deep tissue vital signs in the human body.
Felix Wong, Postdoc (Healthcare)
Cofounder, Integrated Biosciences
Integrated Biosciences has developed a platform to help identify potential drug targets by analyzing cellular stress responses. At MIT, Wong’s studies focus on discovering life-saving drugs, specifically antibiotics.
Quansan Yang, Postdoc (Science)
Postdoctoral Fellow, MIT
Yang creates microchips that are ecoresorbable and bioresorbable, eliminating electronic waste while still working at a high level. He’s also created a miniature implantable cooling technology in a biodegradable platform to give pain relief.
Yajing Zhao SM ’18, PhD ’22 (Energy)
Zhao founded Mesophase to develop a surface coating to improve energy efficiency at power plants. When applied to power plant condensers, the coating can improve output by up to 7 percent.
Jonathan Zong SM ’20 (Science)
PhD Candidate, MIT
Zong works with blind collaborators and study participants to design new interfaces for non-visual data. The systems he co-creates translate charts and graphs into keyboard-navigable structures that offer text descriptions of data.