When he first started working on space engineering, Jeroen Cappaert, 27, probably didn’t expect to fight pirates one day. But that’s just one of the applications the satellites he’s designed are being put to use for by the company he cofounded, Spire Global. The company was founded in 2012 and has launched eight satellites so far which focus data collection on the oceans – “The three quarters of the world that almost nobody looks at,” says Cappaert.
Cappaert is just one of the standouts on this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 in Science list, which features a group of people across an astonishing array of different sciences, from astronomy to marine biology to psychology to artificial intelligence and more.
Other standouts include Lujendra Ojha, 25, whose studies of geological formations on Mars have provided the best evidence yet that liquid water may flow on the surface of the Red Planet. The Nepalese-born Ojha is currently a grad student at Georgia Tech and when he’s not busy studying Mars, he’s a guitarist in a heavy metal band.
And with all the new scientific information coming in daily from people like those on this list, the research of Iliana Vargas, 28, could come in handy. She’s a cognitive neuroscientist whose research focus is on how long-term memories form. She’s been testing ways to use sound to improve people’s memories as they sleep, which could be applied to make it easier to learn things. (And also hopefully keep you from losing your keys.)
That research might then be used one day by Alexander Lavin, 26, a researcher at artificial intelligence company Numenta, which is looking to develop artificial intelligence by reverse-engineering the human neocortex. Lavin is something of a polymath, having been a literal rocket scientist at NASA and Blue Origin before turning his hand to AI development.
Lavin isn’t the only polymath on this year’s list. There’s also Matt Gaidica, 28, who started out as an electrical engineer, founded a software company, then left that company to write a book about asymmetries in the brain. Now he’s purusing a PhD in Neuroscience, with a research focus on Parkinson’s Disease.
A number of members of the list this year found their interest in science sparked early. For example, there’s Embriette Hyde, 28, a project manager at the American Gut Project who became interested in science at a young age when she tried to figure out why yawns are contagious. Colin Carlson, 19, famously graduated from college at age 15 and now studies how parasites interact with ecosystems. And Arnav Chhabra, 24, published his first peer-reviewed paper while he was in high school.
Both Dieuwertje Kast, 27, and Sarah Guthals, 27, are already helping spark the imaginations of the scientists of tomorrow. Kast is the STEM programs manager for the USC Joint Educational Project, where she helps develop science curricula for grades K-12. And Guthals is a cofounder of ThoughtSTEM, which teaches students to code. She’s also published several papers in the area of educating young students about science.
For the complete list of the Science 30 Under 30, check out the landing page here.