Here are five hot young scientists working right now to change the world. Maybe we can sell some t-shirts with their faces on them or get kids to say, “Check out his awesome stereo microscope! I want one of those for my lab!”

Melding Paradigms

jeremy-england-physicsJeremy England is a 29-year-old professor at MIT, a school that knows something about young genius. He’s working right now on new ideas about the physics behind fundamental biological processes like the folding of proteins. England says that making some sense of life down at the molecular level is all about building a connection between two ways of thinking about the world, one of biological function and the other about the underlying physics of the atoms.

 

Analyzing the Genome

Daniela-WittenDaniela Witten, 26, is behind the interpretation of data on the human genome. There’s a lot of raw data, but it needs to be put into context — and Witten’s artificial intelligence algorithms do just that. She says she uses convex optimization tools to address large-scale problems, and is most interested in developing special machine-learning techniques for problems in genetics.

 

Training Nanobots

rizia-bardhanRizia Bardhan is 29 and a postdoc at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where her research deals with the many amazing possibilities of nanotechnology, microscopic robots that can be “trained” to do everything from store energy and release it strategically to diagnosing and curing diseases that are now untreatable. In an interview she said that when she thinks of science, she thinks of major problems that she can help solve.

 

Hunting Black Holes

imre-bartosOne of those multifaceted young minds that drive others crazy with envy, Columbia University graduate student Imre Bartos, 29, studies everything from the formation of black holes to the physics of how mosquito eyes see the world. In the paper “Hunting Black Holes with a Gas Cloud,” he explains that a gas cloud encountering a black hole in its path will be partially devoured by the black hole, and his mission is to detect the telltale x-rays that are emitted during the process.

Making Robots Laugh

hearther-knight-roboticsAnd lest readers think these young scientists are all work and no play, the 28-year-old Chief Executive of the Marilyn Monrobot company, Heather Knight, is creating interactive theater and new applications for robotics by casting her shows with robots. She told Design News that she considers humor to be one of our “most important human attributes,” so if she can teach humor to robots, they will be able to better connect with humans.