Selection Committee

  • Nima Arkani-Hamed, Ph.D.

    Nima Arkani-Hamed, Ph.D.

    Theoretical Physicist
    Institute for Advanced Study
    School of Natural Sciences

    Nima Arkani-Hamed is one of the leading particle physicists of his generation, whose insights have spanned quantum field theory, supersymmetry and string theory. Among his many contributions, he has shown how the extreme weakness of gravity, relative to other forces of nature, might be explained by the existence of extra dimensions of space, into which some of the gravity might ‘leak’. He has taken a lead in proposing new physical theories that can be tested at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and is Director of the Center for Future High Energy Physics in Beijing, which is designing a particle accelerator that would be the largest and most powerful ever built. Arkani-Hamed was was an inaugural winner of the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, and his other prizes include the Sackler Prize, the Gribov Medal and the INFN-Pisa Gamberini prize.

  • John Hardy, Ph.D.

    John Hardy, Ph.D.

    Head of the Department of Molecular Neuroscience and Chair of Molecular Biology of Neurological Disease
    UCL Institute of Neurology

    John Hardy is a geneticist and molecular biologist whose research interests focus on neurological disease. He has made significant contributions to the study of Alzheimer’s disease, including discovering genetic mutations that influence amyloid plaque to build up in the brains of sufferers, and mutations that cause the tangles of ‘tau’ protein that are a marker of Alzheimer’s. His lab has also identified mutations associated with onset and progression of Parkinson’s disease. Hardy is a pioneer in the movement for open access genetic data and open access cell banks. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, and his awards include the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Michael J. Fox Foundation award, the MetLife Foundation Award and the Potamkin Prize.

  • Lucy Hawking, FRSA

    Lucy Hawking, FRSA


    Lucy Hawking graduated from Oxford and started her writing career in journalism, working for newspapers, radio and New York Magazine before becoming an author. Her books, the George series, give young readers an exciting and entertaining introduction to the world of science and math. They have been published in over 40 languages and are now in production as an animated TV series. Hawking has been recognised for her work in science and education with several awards, including the Sapio Prize for Popularizing Science and the UNSW medal for Science Communication. She has been awarded a doctorate in science by Queen Mary University London. Hawking is a fellow of the Royal Society, a trustee of the Autism Research Foundation and vice president of the National Star College, an institution dedicated to allowing people with disabilities to realize their potential.

  • Dr. Mae Jemison, MD

    Dr. Mae Jemison, MD

    Physician, Astronaut, Entrepreneur

    Polymath Dr. Mae Jemison is at the forefront of integrating the physical and social sciences with art and culture to solve problems and foster innovation. Jemison leads 100 Year Starship®, a global initiative to ensure the capabilities for human travel to another star within the next 100 years while transforming life on Earth. Jemison served six years as a NASA astronaut and was the first woman of color in the world to go into space. Trained as an engineer, social scientist and dancer, Jemison, a medical doctor, was the Area Peace Corps Medical Officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia. She founded two technology companies and the non-profit Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence which designs and implements STEM education experiences. A member of Fortune 500 companies’ boards, the National Academy of Medicine and the National Women’s Hall of Fame, Jemison was voted as one of the top seven women leaders in a presidential ballot national straw poll and was the first astronaut to appear on Star Trek.

  • Salman Khan, M.Sc., M.B.A.

    Salman Khan, M.Sc., M.B.A.

    Founder and CEO
    Khan Academy

    Sal Khan is the Founder and CEO of Khan Academy, a nonprofit with the mission of “providing a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere”. Khan Academy is a learning platform which is comprised of practice exercises, instructional videos, dashboard analytics and teacher tools which empower learners in and outside of the classroom to study at their own pace. Khan Academy has over 26 million registered students and covers subjects from math to science, history, economics, computer science and more. Khan Academy is being translated into more than 36 languages and is used in 190 countries globally. Khan holds three degrees from MIT and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He has been profiled by 60 Minutes, featured on the cover of Forbes Magazine, and recognized as one of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World”. In late 2012, Khan released his book The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined.

  • Jacob Lurie, Ph.D.

    Jacob Lurie, Ph.D.

    Professor of Mathematics
    Harvard University

    Jacob Lurie is a professor of pure mathematic at Harvard. He has brought powerful new insights to a range of fields, including Topological Quantum Field Theory, Elliptic Cohomology and Higher Category Theory. At sixteen, Lurie won the gold medal at the International Mathematics Olympiad. At eighteen, he won the Westinghouse Science Talent search. His undergraduate thesis for Harvard won the Morgan Prize. He was made a full professor at Harvard in 2010. His scientific work has been published in two books, Higher Topos Theory (2009) and Higher Algebra (2011), as well as numerous papers. Lurie was one of the inaugural winners of the Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics, and he was awarded a MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship in 2014.

  • Pete Worden, Brig. Gen., USAF, Ret., Ph.D.

    Pete Worden, Brig. Gen., USAF, Ret., Ph.D.

    Chairman, Breakthrough Prize Foundation

    Executive Director, Breakthrough StarShot

    Pete Worden is Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation and Executive Director of its Breakthrough Initiatives. Prieviously he was Director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, and research professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona. He is a recognized expert on space and science issues and has been a leader in building partnerships between governments and the private sector internationally. Dr. Worden has authored or co-authored more than 150 scientific papers in astrophysics and space sciences. He served as a scientific co-investigator for three NASA space science missions – most recently the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph launched in 2013 to study the Sun. He received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for the 1994 Clementine Mission to the moon. Dr. Worden was named the 2009 Federal Laboratory Consortium ‘Laboratory Director of the Year’ and is the recipient of the 2010 Arthur C. Clarke Innovator’s Award.

  • Siddhartha Mukherjee

    Siddhartha Mukherjee

    Siddhartha Mukherjee is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Gene and The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize. An assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a cancer physician, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford, and Harvard Medical School.