It's that time of year again. What started as an online-only project in 2013, our annual 30 Top Thinkers Under 30 package has quickly become something of an institution, closely watched over the last few years by those working in the social and behavioral sciences.
When we launched this special report, we were told, repeatedly, that it was rare for someone to have accomplished anything of significance in academia before his or her mid-thirties. We were aware of that going in, of course, but the legwork required to find true stand-outs, we knew, would make this special—would make this a list of individuals actually worth following.
To find them, we asked every academic we knew to recommend someone. We leaned on our board of directors and editorial advisors, all experts in their fields. We canvassed colleges and universities, combed through hundreds of CVs, and urged friends to ask friends of friends. Every list has required months of research, but the number of nominees we've received has far outnumbered the number of spots we've given ourselves to fill, suggesting that there are a lot of remarkable overachievers out there, and a lot more to look forward to.
Our stated criteria: We were looking for intellectuals in the fields we cover most aggressively who, because of their ambition or brilliance or originality of thought, are likely to be famous in the next five to 10 years. Have we hit our mark? Now in our third year, it's still too early to tell, but we'll continue to track these impressive people in the coming months and years. Starting with next year's list, in addition to publishing 30 new profiles, we're going to take a look back: We'll track down some of those who made our original list and see what they've been up to since.
Here's what we do know: This year's nominees include a young scholar fighting labor exploitation among immigrant children; data analysts at work on solar-power innovation and climate change; an astrophysicist who brings his expertise to bear on alternative energy and national security; and a Canadian prodigy who wrote the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees global report on LGBTI refugees.*
Our profiles of these young luminaries anticipate the problems of tomorrow and highlight the progress of a new generation as it works toward crafting innovative solutions.
We're already looking for inductees for next year's list, which will anchor a special issue on visionaries in the fields of education, economics, the environment, and social justice. If you know someone worthy of consideration, email us at email@example.com. We can't wait to hear from you.
*Update — March 7, 2016: This story has been updated to reflect the nationality of the prodigy behind the UNHCR report.
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