The World Economic Forum today announces its Class of 2020 Young Scientists, representing 25 exceptional researchers at the forefront of scientific discovery.
Recognition of the Young Scientists comes at a time when the need for evidence-based policy has never been clearer. Although the challenge of COVID-19 has unintentionally diverted attention away from other research work – despite the pressing global issues that these efforts address – the need for science to test, predict and explain how different phenomena affect human and ecological outcomes is greater than ever. The Young Scientists were nominated by leading research institutes according to criteria including research excellence, leadership potential and commitment to serving society.
These brilliant academics, 40 and under, have been selected on the basis of their achievements in expanding the boundaries of knowledge and practical applications of science in issues as diverse as child psychology, chemical oceanography and artificial intelligence.
Eight of this year’s Young Scientists study in Europe, while seven work in Asia, six are based in the Americas, two in South Africa and a further two in the Middle East. Fifteen – more than half – of the 25 Young Scientists are women.
“We are looking forward to working with the Class of 2020 Young Scientists to help leaders from the public and private sector better engage with science and in doing so, help young researchers become stronger ambassadors for science, which the world needs now and will continue to need post-COVID-19,” said Alice Hazelton, Programme Lead, Science and Society, World Economic Forum.
Here are the World Economic Forum’s Young Scientists of 2020:
- Sarah Fawcett (University of Cape Town, South Africa, South African): Fawcett researches the role of ocean chemistry and biology in climate, as well as the impacts of human activities on marine environments using measures of elements such as carbon and nitrogen
- Salome Maswime (University of Cape Town, South Africa, South African): Maswime seeks to understand surgical health systems and causes of maternal death during caesarean section in poorly resourced areas to improve surgical care across populations
From the Americas:
- Gao Wei (California Institute of Technology, USA, Chinese): Gao develops skin-interfaced wearable biosensors that will enable analytics through sweat rather than blood, leading to non-invasive and real-time analysis and timely medical intervention
- Francisca Garay (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile, Chilean): Garay is studying what are the most basic building blocks of the universe by developing technologies to accelerate and enhance the capabilities of particle accelerators
- Diego Garcia-Huidobro (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile, Chilean): Garcia-Huidobro uses human-centred design methods to develop sustainable and scalable community-level health interventions in Chile
- Jennifer Ronholm (McGill University, Canada, Canadian): Ronholm is working to strengthen the microbiome of agricultural animals to resist infections in the absence of antibiotics, with the aim of reducing the spread of antimicrobial resistance
- Stefanie Sydlik (Carnegie Mellon University, USA, American): Sydlik designs new materials that stimulate the body’s healing response to enable the regeneration of natural bone as an alternative to metal implants currently used to heal bone injuries
- Fatma Zeynep Temel (Carnegie Mellon University, USA, Turkish): Temel uses mathematical models and physical prototypes to test and explore biologically inspired designs, leading to the development of small-scale robots and sensors
- Lee Sue-Hyun (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, South Korea, Korean): Lee researches how memories are recalled and updated, and how emotional processes affect human memory, to inform therapeutic interventions for mental disorders
- Meng Ke (Tsinghua University, China, Chinese): Meng seeks to understand the socio-economic causes of population ageing and declining population rates to suggest what public policy measures and innovations can be used to address them
- Shi Ling (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, China, Chinese): Shi researches the vulnerability of cyber-physical systems to protect safety-critical infrastructures – such as power utilities and water transportation systems – from attacks
- Sho Tsuji (University of Tokyo, Japan, Japanese): Tsuji seeks to understand how an infant’s social environment affects language acquisition – a key predictor of future literacy – to inform culturally sensitive, science-based, societal interventions
- Wu Dan (Zhejiang University, China, Chinese): Wu is researching technological advances in MRI techniques to improve its ability to detect tumours and stroke, as well as monitor foetal brain development
- Yi Li (Peking University, China, Chinese): Yi researches social-communicative impairments in children with autism in China to develop more precise screening and diagnosis, as well as innovative treatment approaches in the country
- Ying Xu (Chinese Academy of Sciences, China, Chinese): Ying’s research focuses on enhancing China’s low-orbit Beidou navigation satellite system, which could lead to advances in the commercial aerospace industry
- Celeste Carruth (ETH Zurich, Switzerland, American): Carruth is developing a new 2D ion trap experiment for quantum information processing that is expected to be more reliable and cheaper to scale up than competing technologies and aims to lead to breakthrough quantum computing results
- Nicola Gasparini (Imperial College London, United Kingdom, Italian): Gasparini is developing novel technologies to treat severe and incurable vision problems caused by degeneration of the retina, which affects almost 200 million people worldwide
- Joe Grove (Imperial College London, United Kingdom, British): Grove investigates how viruses enter human cells and evade the immune system to reveal new biology and inform the design of future vaccines
- Philip Moll (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, German): Moll is developing new methods to make micro-scale modifications to material structures with the potential to improve quantum computing
- Mine Orlu (University College London, United Kingdom, British): Orlu is designing patient-tailored pharmaceutical and healthcare technologies that contribute to healthy and independent ageing across the life course
- Michael Saliba (University of Stuttgart, Germany, German): Saliba is developing inexpensive, stable and highly efficient perovskite solar cells that will enable the acceleration of sustainable energy technology
- Andy Tay (Imperial College London, United Kingdom, Singaporean): Tay is developing new technology and materials to engineer immune cells, tissues and systems, with the aim of preventing and treating cancer
- Jan Dirk Wegner (ETH Zurich, Switzerland, German): Wegner develops novel artificial intelligence methods to analyse large-scale environmental data and accelerate humanity’s ability to solve ecological problems
From the Middle East:
- Joseph Costantine (American University of Beirut, Lebanon, Lebanese): Constantine’s research leverages electromagnetism to design a new generation of wireless communication systems, biomedical sensors and wirelessly powered devices through radio frequency energy harvesting
- Joanna Doummar (American University of Beirut, Lebanon, Lebanese): Doummar seeks to better understand complex underground drainage systems, known as karst aquifers, to better address and solve national water quality and quantity challenges