Friday, October 16, 2009

Nathan Eagle Named One of Technology Review's Top Innovators Under 35

I picked up a copy of MIT's Technology review at the bookstore the other day and was delighted to see Nathan Eagle chosen as one of the top young innovators under 35. I met Nathan while attending the Santa Fe Institute's Complex Systems Summer School this past June. He is a research fellow at the Santa Fe Institute and his work involves using data from mobile phones to analyze social structures and enhance public policy:

For years, Eagle has been mining cell-phone data captured by service providers around the world. Using algorithms he developed as a graduate student at MIT, he strips all identifying information from call logs and looks for patterns in where people go and how they use their phones--patterns that can reveal how social networks are affected by outside forces. For instance, he is working with city planners in Kenya and Rwanda to understand how slums grow and change in response to events such as natural disasters and declines in crop prices. And earlier this year, Eagle began using phone-derived data to build a more accurate model of the spread of malaria in Africa. Previous models had relied on spotty information about people's movements, collected in sporadic surveys. With a better picture of how the disease spreads, governments can improve the policies designed to fight it.

Read the whole thing to find out more about how Nathan is also trying to use mobile phones as a platform for creating micro-jobs for people in developing countries. You can read more about his company, Txteagle, here and here. Watch this video of Eagle discussing his ideas.

Some other top innovators who caught my attention include:
  • Michelle Khine (32) for her work using 'Shrinky-Dinks' as a production method for making high-tech diagnostic chips.
  • José Gómez-Márquez (32) for his inspiration from toy design to create practical medical devices for poorer countries.
  • Aydogan Ozcan (30) for using inexpensive chips and sophisticated software to make microscope lenses obsolete.
  • Anat Levin (31) for developing new cameras and algorithms to capture the potential of digital images.
  • Adrien Treuille (30) for developing complex physics systems that can run on everyday PCs.
  • James Carey (32) for using 'black silicon' to build inexpensive, super-sensitive light detectors.
See the whole list for a group of incredibly brilliant people and exciting, new technologies.

A big congratulations to Nathan and the rest this year's TR 35 award winners. These guys almost make me miss being an engineer...

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