Scott Manalis, 29
One of the first things you notice about Scott Manalis’s CV is a substantial list of patents. A tour of his orderly but jam-packed lab, replete with an ultrasensitive microaccelerometer and microelectromechanical devices, confirms that Manalis likes to build gadgets that work on the scale of nanometers and micrometers. Trained in applied physics,and an expert on the equipment used to image and manipulate atoms, he hopes to create revolutionary new tools for advancing molecular biology. He wants to get direct information on DNA or protein molecules by binding them to, say, silicon transistors or tiny cantilevers. His dream, he says, is that within five to 15 years, he’ll be able to “stick a probe into a cell, connect it to a computer” and get real-time information on the cell’s proteins and genes. Such a tool would be invaluable to molecular biologists, replacing weeks or months of laboratory analysis. It may take a while, but Manalis is already creating the technology to make his dream reality.