Mentors & Leadership

Mentors from Past Congresses Include…

The Grand Masters

Mario Capecchi, Ph.D.

Winner, 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Winner, 2003 Wolf Prize in Medicine
Winner, 2001 Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research
Recipient, 2001 National Medal of Science

Dr. Capecchi, a biophysicist, is a Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Utah School of Medicine.  He is best known for his groundbreaking work in gene targeting in mouse embryo-derived stem cells.  He was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Medicine, along with Martin Evans and Oliver Smithies for their work in finding ways to manipulate the mammalian genome by inserting new genes into cells.  This research has led to the breeding of “knock-out mice” and “knock-in mice” — animals with a single gene removed or inserted. Dr. Capecchi’s knock-out mice allow scientists complete freedom on how to manipulate the DNA sequences in the genome of living mice.


His research interests include the molecular genetic analysis of early mouse development, neural development in mammals, production of murine models of human genetic diseases, gene therapy, homologous recombination and programmed genomic rearrangements in the mouse.

John C Mather Academy Science Director

John C. Mather, Ph.D.

Winner, 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics
Science Director (2015-2018), The National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists

Dr. John C. Mather, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics, studied cosmic microwave background radiation and received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California. As a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, Dr. Mather led a team to propose the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite mission to study cosmic microwave background radiation. This work, for which he won a Nobel Prize, helped cement the Big Bang theory of the universe. According to the Nobel Prize committee, “the COBE-project can also be regarded as the starting point for cosmology as a precision science.” Dr. Mather has served on advisory and working groups for the National Academy of Sciences, NASA, and the National Science Foundation.

Sylvia A. Earle, Ph.D.

Explorer in Residence, National Geographic Society
Founder, Sylvia Earle Alliance, Mission Blue, Deep Ocean Exploration and Research Inc.

Dr. Earle is an author of more than 200 publications and leader of more than 100 expeditions with over 7,000 hours underwater. Dr. Earle’s research concerns the ecology and conservation of marine ecosystems and development of technology for access to the deep sea. She is the subject of the Emmy Award-Winning Netflix documentary, Mission Blue; was named TIME magazine’s first Hero for the Planet and a Living Legend by the Library of Congress; and is a winner of the 2009 TED Prize, the Royal Geographic Society 2011 Patron’s Medal and the National Geographic 2013 Hubbard Medal.

David Wineland, Ph.D.

Winner, 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics
Recipient, 2007 National Medal of Science

David Wineland, Ph.D. was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics for “ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems.” His ingenious experiments are advancing the possibility of building a super-fast computer based on quantum physics. Dr. Wineland is also the recipient of the 2007 National Medal of Science in the engineering sciences.


Dr. Wineland has been a member of the National Institute of Standards and Technology for nearly 40 years. Starting in graduate school, an enduring goal of Dr. Wineland’s work has been to increase the precision of atomic spectroscopy, the measurement of the frequencies of atoms’ characteristic vibrations. This expanded to the development of accurate atomic clocks and demonstrations of the basic building blocks of a quantum computer.

Dean Kamen

Recipient, 2000 National Medal of Technology and Innovation
Legendary Inventor

As an inventor, Dean Kamen holds more than 440 U.S. and foreign patents. While still a college undergraduate, he invented the first wearable infusion pump, and later the first wearable insulin pump for diabetics. In 1976, Mr. Kamen founded his first medical device company, AutoSyringe, Inc., to manufacture and market his medical device inventions.


After selling AutoSyringe, Inc., Mr. Kamen founded DEKA Research & Development Corporation. Among the many inventions, DEKA is working on is an advanced prosthetic arm in development for DARPA that will advance the quality of life for returning injured soldiers. Mr. Kamen and DEKA also created the Segway® Human Transporter.


Mr. Kamen was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 2000. He was also awarded the Lemelson-MIT Prize in 2002 and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in May 2005. He is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering and has been a member of the National Academy of Engineering since 1997.


In addition to DEKA, one of Mr. Kamen’s proudest accomplishments is founding FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an organization dedicated to motivating the next generation to understand, use and enjoy science and technology.

George M. Whitesides, Ph.D.

Recipient, 1999 National Medal of Science
Professor of Chemistry, Harvard University

Dr. Whitesides is the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor at Harvard University. He has received dozens of awards, the most recent of which is the Dreyfus Prize in the Chemical Sciences for his creation of new materials that have significantly advanced the field of chemistry and its societal benefits. He has also received the Priestley Medal, which is the highest honor bestowed by the American Chemical Society, and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry for his pioneering chemical research in molecular self-assembly and innovative nanofabrication techniques. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has been appointed a Fellow of numerous societies. A prolific author of more than 950 scientific articles and patent holder who has received many awards, he received the highest Hirsch index rating of all living chemists in 2011.


Dr. Whitesides is currently researching physical and organic chemistry, materials science, biophysics, complexity, surface science, microfluidics, self-assembly, micro- and nanotechnology, science for developing economies, origin of life, and cell-surface biochemistry. Given this broad range of research, he is active in several Wyss Institute enabling technology platforms: Adaptive Material Technologies, Bioinspired Robotics, Biomimetic Microsystems, and Programmable Nanomaterials.

J. Craig Venter, Ph.D.

Recipient, 2009 National Medal of Science
Scientist, Entrepreneur and Genomics Genius

J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., is regarded as one of the leading scientists of the 21st century for his numerous invaluable contributions to genomic research. In 2013, he co-founded Human Longevity, Inc. (HLI), the genomics-based, technology-driven company creating the world’s largest and most comprehensive database of whole genome, phenotype and clinical data designed to enable pharmaceutical companies, insurers, and healthcare providers to impact and improve health. HLI is developing and applying large-scale computing and machine learning to make novel discoveries to revolutionize the practice of medicine.


In addition to HLI, Dr. Venter is also Founder, Chairman, and CEO of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), a not-for-profit, genomics-focused research organization with approximately 250 scientists and staff, and is Co-Founder, Executive Chairman, and Co-Chief Scientist of Synthetic Genomics Inc., a privately held company dedicated to commercializing genomic-driven solutions to address global needs such as new sources of energy, new food and nutritional products, and next generation vaccines.

Jack Szostak, Ph.D.

Winner, 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Winner, 2006 Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research

Dr. Szostak, a biologist and chemist, is currently a Professor of both Genetics and Chemistry at Harvard University and the Alexander Rich Distinguished Investigator at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.  He has made a career as a pioneer in genetics; specifically, his discoveries helped to clarify the events that lead to chromosomal recombination and the function of telomeres, the specialized DNA sequences at the tips of chromosomes. He is also credited with the construction of the world’s first yeast artificial chromosome. That feat helped scientists to map the location of genes in mammals and to develop techniques for manipulating genes.


Currently, Dr. Szostak’s lab focuses on the challenges of understanding the origin of life on Earth, and the construction of artificial cellular life in the laboratory.

Marc Raibert, Ph.D.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Boston Dynamics

Dr. Raibert is CEO and founder of Boston Dynamics, a company that develops some of the world’s most advanced dynamic robots, such as BigDog, Atlas, Cheetah, SandFlea and the AlphaDog. These robots are inspired by the remarkable ability of animals to move with agility, mobility, speed and grace. Before starting Boston Dynamics, Raibert was Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT from 1986 to 1995. Before that, he was Associate Professor of Computer Science and Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon from 1980 to 1986. While at MIT and Carnegie Mellon Raibert founded the Leg Laboratory, a lab that helped establish the scientific basis for highly dynamic legged robots. Raibert earned a Ph.D. from MIT in 1977. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Megan Smith

Megan J. Smith

Chief Technology Officer of the United States (2014-2017)

CEO, shift7

Ms. Smith served as Chief Technology Officer to guide the Obama Administration’s information-technology policies and initiatives. Previous to assuming her role at the White House, Smith served as VP of Google[x], a Google facility that develops the company’s “moonshots,” or high-achieving technological advancements. She was Vice President of Business Development at Google for nine years and also served as general manager of, the company’s social impact arm.

Michael Brown Ph.D.

Michael S. Brown, M.D.

Winner, 1985 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Recipient, 1988 National Medal of Science

Dr. Brown won the Nobel Prize for discoveries concerning the regulation of cholesterol metabolism and the discovery of the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor, which controls cholesterol in the blood and cells. He showed that mutations in this receptor cause Familial Hypercholesterolemia, a disorder that leads to premature heart attacks. His work laid the groundwork for drugs called statins that block cholesterol synthesis, increase LDL receptors, lower blood cholesterol and prevent heart attacks. Statins are taken daily by more than 20 million people worldwide. Dr. Brown served for 16 years on the Board of Directors of Pfizer, and he is currently a Director of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.

Rainer Weiss, Ph.D.

Rainer Weiss, Ph.D.

Winner, 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics
Winner, 2016 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics
Professor of Physics, Emeritus at MIT

Dr. Weiss is a Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is known for his pioneering measurements of the spectrum of the cosmic microwave background radiation, his inventions of the monolithic silicon bolometer and the laser interferometer gravitational wave detector, and his roles as a co-founder and an intellectual leader of both the COBE (microwave background) Project and the LIGO (gravitational-wave detection) Project. Dr. Weiss is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, and The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he is a member of the American Astronomical Society, the New York Academy of Sciences, and Sigma Xi.

Richard Roberts, Ph.D.

Winner, 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Dr. Roberts was educated in chemistry at Sheffield University and molecular biology at Harvard University. He worked for 20 years at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory where his group discovered RNA splicing for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1993. In 1992, he moved to New England Biolabs as Director of Eukaryotic Research before becoming Chief Scientific Officer in 2005. He has had a long-standing interest in bioinformatics, which most recently had been applied to his research on restriction enzymes.

Robert M. Metcalfe, Ph.D.

Inventor of Ethernet
Founder, 3Com
Recipient, 2005 National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Dr. Metcalfe is an internet pioneer starting at MIT, Harvard, and Stanford who invented Ethernet at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center and founded the 3Com Corporation. Throughout his career at 3Com, Dr. Metcalfe served as founder, chairman, CEO, VP Sales and Marketing, and General Manager of the Software, Workstation, and Hardware divisions. Dr. Metcalfe is now Emeritus Partner at Polaris Venture Partners. In 2011, Dr. Metcalfe became Professor of Innovation in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. He is an MIT Life Trustee Emeritus, member of the National Academy of Engineering, and in 2005 he received the National Medal of Technology for his leadership in the invention, standardization, and commercialization of Ethernet.”

Sheldon Glashow Ph.D.

Sheldon Glashow, Ph.D.

Winner, 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics

Dr. Glashow is an American theoretical physicist who received the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the electroweak theory, which explains the unity of electromagnetism and the weak force. Dr. Glashow also developed theories regarding quarks, or elementary particles, and is credited with advancing our understanding of these particles with the proposal of a new quark called a charm.

Stephen Ray Mitchell, M.D., MBA

Dean for Medical Education, Georgetown University

Dr. Mitchell currently serves as the Joseph Butenas Professor and Dean of Medical Education at Georgetown and is responsible for the overall operation, development, curriculum, and student affairs for the School of Medicine. He also opened and continues to be the director of the Georgetown University Hospital Childhood Arthritis Center.


Dr. Mitchell has been honored numerous times for his teaching excellence, including receiving multiple “Golden Apples” for medical student education at Georgetown. In addition, he has received the Kaiser Permanente Award from the faculty for the outstanding clinical teacher in the Medical Center, as well as every residency teaching award in the Department of Medicine, including induction into the Sol Katz Society.

Sylvester James Gates, Jr., Ph.D.

Recipient, 2013 National Medal of Science

Dr. Gates is an American theoretical physicist, who is known for his work on supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory. His doctoral thesis was the first one at MIT to deal with supersymmetry. Dr. Gates coauthored Superspace, the first comprehensive book on the topic of supersymmetry and he completed a DVD series titled Superstring Theory: The DNA of Reality for The Teaching Company. In 2013, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, becoming the first African-American physicist so recognized in its 150 ­year history. Dr. Gates is currently a Ford Foundation Professor of Physics at Brown University, the Director of the String and Particle Theory Center, Affiliate Professor of Mathematics, and serves on the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science Commission on Forensic Science, and on the Maryland State Board of Education.

The Prodigies

Eric Chen

Grand Prize Winner, 2014 Intel Science Talent Search
Grand Prize Winner, 2013 Google Science Fair
Grand Prize Winner, 2013 Seimens Competition in Math, Science & Technology

At 17, Eric Chen won all three major science prizes – Intel, Google, and Siemens – for his research on new drugs designed to fight dangerous strains of the influenza virus.


The flu virus is deadly and costs millions of dollars in lost productivity. The emergence of a new strain could be a potential epidemic. Eric is working to design new drugs to fight this deadly infection. He did so by finding compounds that turn off a viral protein called the endonuclease.”


The emergence of new highly lethal influenza viruses such as H5N1 and H7N9 poses a grave threat to the world. Eric’s project aimed to discover novel influenza endonuclease inhibitors as leads for a new type of anti-flu medicine, effective against all influenza viruses including pandemic strains. By combining computer modeling and biological studies, he identified a number of novel, potent endonuclease inhibitors. He also performed comprehensive structural analysis, laying groundwork for further design and optimization of the anti-flu drug candidates.


Eric is currently studying at Harvard University.

Jack Andraka

Grand Prize Winner, 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

Breakthrough Inventor, Scientist and Cancer Researcher

When Jack was 15-years-old he created a new diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer that is 28 times faster, 26,000 times less expensive and over 100 times more sensitive than the current diagnostic tests. And, if that’s not impressive enough, the test also works for ovarian and lung cancer.

His diagnostic test earned him first prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s largest pre-college science research competition.

Jack is currently studying at Stanford University.

Paige Brown

First Place Medal of Distinction in Global Good
2016 Intel Science Talent Search

Paige Brown is the first place medal of distinction winner of the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search, for her research studying the water quality of six environmentally impaired local streams with high E. coli and phosphate contamination levels. She is currently developing a cost effective filter largely made of calcium alginate strands to remove the phosphate from storm water systems. She is studying chemical engineering at Stanford University.

Shree Bose

Grand Prize Winner, 2011 Google Science Fair

As an eighteen-year-old Shree Bose triumphed over 10,000 other competitors to become the grand prize winner of the first-ever Google Science Fair in 2011. For her winning research, Shree looked at the chemotherapy drug, cisplatin, that is commonly taken by women with ovarian cancer. The problem is that the cancer cells tend to grow resistant to cisplatin over time and Shree discovered a way to counteract that thus opening new avenues for research.


Shree is a graduate of Harvard University and is now enrolled in the M.D.-Ph.D. program at Duke University.

Vineet Edupuganti

Grand Prize Winner, 2016 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology

Vineet Edupuganti was the national winner of the 2016 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology for the development and modeling of a high-performing, low-cost biodegradable battery that can dissolve after a period of useful operation. This technology can be used to power ingestible medical devices, environmental sensors and other applications where dissolvable power sources are desirable. Vineet received a 3rd place grand award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in 2015 and 2016 and also received the special award for Best Project in Chemistry from the American Chemical Society (ACS) at the same competition. Vineet is currently attending Stanford University and hopes to find real world applications for his research that he can eventually take to market as an entrepreneur.

The Masters of Life Success and Happiness

Brendon Burchard

Brendon Burchard is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives that Make You Feel Alive. He is also the founder of High Performance Academy, the legendary personal development program for achievers, Brendon is regularly recognized as “one of the top business and motivation trainers in the world.” (Inc. magazine,, ABC, and more). Brendon’s books, videos, newsletters, products, and appearances now inspire two million people a month worldwide. His books have been #1 bestsellers on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and bestseller lists.

Sean Stephenson

Dr. Sean Stephenson was predicted not to survive at birth because of a rare bone disorder that stunted his growth and caused his bones to be extremely fragile.

Despite his challenges, he took a stand for a quality of life that has inspired millions of people around the world including Sir Richard Branson, President Clinton, and his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Dr. Stephenson has appeared on everything from Oprah to Jimmy Kimmel, in addition to online videos with millions of views. The Biography Channel did an hour feature on his life called “Three Foot Giant.”

Dr. Stephenson’s message has been heard at live events in over 15 countries and 47 states over the past 21 years. His latest book, Get Off Your “But”, has been released in ten different languages around the world.

As a board-certified therapist, Dr. Stephenson sees clients in a unique 12-hour session to enhance their confidence and speaking ability. He and his wife, Mindie Kniss, reside in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Deborah Bedor, Ph.D.

CEO, College Admission Central

As one of the nation’s top admissions experts, Dr. Deborah Bedor has had the pleasure of coaching and advising Top Tier, Ivy League, and celebrity pre-college students for the past 25 years, guiding them to acceptance into our nation’s finest universities. Dr. Bedor is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude; recipient of the Schaff Memorial Prize for Scholarship; and holds both a master’s degree and doctorate.


Dr. B, as she is called, works with students globally on every part of the college application—strategizing, developing, and implementing the most unique and winning presentation of each student’s college portfolio and application. Everyone who works with Dr. Bedor becomes a stand-out candidate. Big ideas are her specialty.

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