Stanford well represented in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list

Jonathan Mayer
Cybersecurity fellow Jonathan Mayer is among the Stanford-related young thought leaders under 30 recently recognized by Forbes. (Photo: Linda Cicero)

The editors of Forbes magazine have announced the members of the publication’s annual 30 Under 30 list, which highlights young thought leaders, entrepreneurs and scientists in 15 disciplines. Several Stanford graduates, students, affiliated scholars and faculty made this year’s list. Here is how Forbes described their accomplishments.

Genevera Allen, 28
Assistant Professor of Statistics, Rice University; BCM Neurological Institute
Data do not get bigger than an fMRI brain scan – even a 10-minute scan takes up 4 gigabytes. Allen, a statistician and neuroscientist who earned her PhD at Stanford, found a better way to assemble that mass of information to find brain areas that are turned on, yielding information about how we think. She’s applying the same techniques to genetics, the study of gut bacteria and, perhaps, retailing.

Tracy Chou, 26
Software engineer, Pinterest
Chou is a rising-star software engineer working on a mix of product, platform and infrastructure at Pinterest. Before Pinterest, Chou turned down an offer from Facebook to become the second engineer hired at Quora. She interned at both Facebook and Google and was a Mayfield Fellow at Stanford. She holds a BS in electrical engineering and an MS in computer science from Stanford.

Adam de la Zerda, 29
Assistant Professor, Departments of Structural Biology and (by courtesy) of Electrical Engineering, School of Medicine, Stanford
Here’s a crazy idea: Use sound waves to image the body at the molecular level. De la Zerda, who may be the youngest faculty member at the School of Medicine at Stanford, is making it work, using the technology to take pictures of brain tumors, blood and living mice. His early efforts led to a startup, OcuBell, focused on eye disease.

Lucas Duplan, 22
Founder, Clinkle
Just over a year after receiving his undergrad computer science degree from Stanford, Duplan is running one of the most hyped and controversial startups in the nation, Clinkle, which seeks to disrupt the way financial transactions are done – with a digital wallet used on mobile phones. He has shocked Silicon Valley with his ability to raise $30 million from the likes of Richard Branson, Peter Thiel and Andreessen Horowitz for an unreleased secret product and attract talent like former Netflix CFO Barry McCarthy, who is now Clinkle’s COO.

Lisa Falzone, 28
Cofounder, Revel Systems
Falzone helped created an iPad point-of-sale system used by some big chains, including Little Caesars, Popeyes and Pizza Patron. Revel handles reporting, cloud storage and business insights. Falzone, a Stanford grad, says it’s better than the more hyped Square. Revel has raised almost $14 million, including $10 million in 2013.

Jake Heller, 29
Cofounder, Casetext
Heller, a former Stanford Law Review president, co-founded Casetext to make the world’s laws free and understandable, using a Wikipedia-like approach to crowdsource the work for this endeavor. So far the project has raised over $1.5 million from investors, including Y Combinator, SV Angel, CrossLink Capital and Ashton Kutcher. Casetext is already used by over 100,000 lawyers to do research every month.

Tim Hwang, 27
Partner, Robot, Robot & Hwang, Stanford Center for Legal Informatics Fellow
Hwang researches disruptive tech and automation in the legal marketplace as the sole human partner at the offices of Robot, Robot & Hwang. He also investigates regulatory framework around intelligent systems with Microsoft’s Danah Boyd at the Data and Society Research Institute, and is developing tabletop games to teach real-world policy scenarios, including a pen-and-pencil RPG on Too Big to Fail.

Adam Kell, 25
Cofounder, FlameStower
Kell, a graduate engineering student at Stanford, has invented a compact, portable power source for camping and wilderness adventures that generates electricity with heat from cook stoves or campfires. The heat energy is transformed into electric current that can charge USB-powered devices like cell phones. Kell’s startup, FlameStower, is working to deploy the technology to needy families in sub-Saharan Africa.

Nate Levine, 22
Founder, OpenGov
In 2012, at age 20, Nate Levine cofounded OpenGov, a software platform that helps governments make intelligent, data-driven decisions and communicate financial information with their constituents. The startup has raised over $7 million and works with more than 50 municipalities, school districts and other local government organizations, involving over 7 million people nationwide. Levine – who began the project as a sophomore at Stanford but has postponed completion of his bachelor’s degree – is focused on building new tools to revolutionize how cities share data with one another and how they approach the budgeting process.

Daniel Maren, Andrew Ponec, Darren Hau, 20, 20, 20
Cofounders, Dragonfly Systems
Dragonfly Systems is working to make solar panel systems cheaper, more efficient and reliable. “We’ve completely redesigned an often-overlooked component, the junction box, in a way that streamlines installation and improves reliability while boosting power output,” says Maren. The trio, who have postponed completion of their bachelor’s degrees at Stanford, have gotten interest from the likes of SunPower and Altenergy, which are eager to try it out.

Jonathan Mayer, 26
Cybersecurity fellow, Center for International Security and Cooperation
Mayer is pursuing the first-ever JD/PhD in computer science at Stanford, and has already contributed to a Federal Trade Commission investigation into Google for circumventing Apple privacy settings, resulting in a $22.5 million fine for the search giant, one of the largest FTC fines ever. He also measures the privacy impact of NSA phone and Internet surveillance, and has worked with Mozilla on a new Firefox cookie policy.

Divya Nag, 22
Cofounder, Stem Cell Theranostics and StartX Med
Nag dropped out of Stanford to start Stem Cell Theranostics, which has commercialized technology for producing induced pluripotent stem cells. The company turns cells – usually from a piece of skin – into embryonic-like stem cells, then uses them to create heart cells. These cells can live in petri dishes and be used to test new drugs. Someday they might even replace heart tissue that dies during a heart attack.

Garrett Neiman, 25
Cofounder, CollegeSpring
Neiman started the nonprofit in 2008 while still an economics undergraduate at Stanford. His mission is to help low-income students achieve higher SAT scores and college acceptances. It is California’s largest nonprofit provider in the space, with 5,000 students served and $5 million raised, including backing from Stanford President John Hennessy, angel investor Ron Conway and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Shiza Shahid, 24
Cofounder, Malala Fund
When Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani daring to advocate for girls’ education, was shot by the Taliban in 2012, Shahid, who had met Malala in 2009, got on a plane. She helped oversee Malala’s medical care in London. The Stanford grad and McKinsey consultant became the 16-year-old’s chief strategist on the spot. Shahid co-founded the Malala Fund to promote girls’ education. Grants to date: $400,000, half from the World Bank and half from Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

Tony Wan, 28
Managing editor, EdSurge News
Over the past two years, Wan has helped shape EdSurge as a go-to source for education technology. With a BA in history from UC San Diego and a master’s in East Asian studies from Stanford, he covers entrepreneurial companies and has a still-small-yet-growing following online and on the speaker circuit. Before joining EdSurge, he helped start Luckybird Games, which developed educational math games.

Daniela Witten, 29
Assistant Professor of Biostatistics, University of Washington
Witten, who earned her BS, MS and PhD at Stanford, uses statistical machine learning methods to analyze the large data sets coming out of DNA sequencing and other fields. She is the co-author of a textbook on machine learning, and has published more than 30 articles on new techniques for analyzing these types of data sets, as well as, more recently, a critique of how bad statistics can result in erroneous conclusions.