The National Digest

30 Under 30 In Science 2020: Redefining Impossible From Rockets To Molecules

Clara Foods CEO Arturo Elizondo is making egg proteins without the need for chickens.

Eggs are one of the cheapest and most available sources of protein around. But that’s not good enough for Arturo Elizondo, cofounder and CEO of Clara Foods. “Animals are an incredibly inefficient protein machines,” he says. Which is why his company bypasses chickens entirely, using yeast to convert sugar directly into egg proteins the way brewers make beer.

Take Ahmed Kord, for example. As more of the world is connected to the internet, it’s increasingly  important for devices to send and receive information at the same time. This requires a common communications component called a circulator. For the past few decades, it’s been conventional wisdom that for circulators to work with any kind of high performance, they must be built using magnets. Kord, however, has built several successful prototype circulators without magnets—which means these bulky components can be slimmed down and used in more applications.

Other list makers are upending conventional wisdom in biology. Researcher Ann Lin and her colleagues discovered that a protein thought to be involved in the growth of tumors isn’t. Which means that drugs targeting that protein weren’t treating cancer the way researchers thought—they were treating cancer as a coincidental side effect. The impact of this research could mean that cancer drugs can be more selectively targeted and more effective. Meanwhile, Stefano Daniele and his colleagues showed it was possible to restore limited cell functions to brains that had been “dead” for hours—upending some common thinking about brain death.

The cofounders of WindBorne systems set a world record for longest duration latex balloon flight.

Several entrepreneurs on this year’s list are looking to update the conventional wisdom in their industries, as well. Joe Laurienti, cofounder and CEO of Ursa Major, is working to build standardized rocket engines—saving the 100-plus rocket startups around the globe right now the time and expense of developing their own. Jonathan Segal and Tyler Bernstein’s company, Zeno Power Solutions, has developed a way to turn nuclear waste into a source of energy that can be used for a variety of applications. And Paige Brown and her cofounders at WindBorne Systems have re-invented the weather balloon for the 21st century, allowing for a more consistent and precise collection of local weather data.

This barely covers the complex challenges that this year’s list members are busy tackling. Be sure to read up on all of them.


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