When Forbes released its 30 under 30 list for 2018, 14 former Duke students found themselves among the ranks of innovators across a variety of fields, ranging from energy to games. The annual 30 under 30 list includes 600 "young stars" under age 30 in 20 different industries. The Chronicle looked at why the 14 former Duke students were selected.
Jake Stauch, 26, made Forbes’ list of 30 under 30 for games created by his startup NeuroPlus. The company has developed a brain-controlled video game to help children with ADHD improve their attention spans, which a Duke researcher recently found was three-to-four times more effective than traditional treatments.
"Obviously it's an incredible honor to be named to the list," he said.
Stauch, who attended Duke from 2009 to 2012 before leaving to focus on his startup, was a researcher at the Duke Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, competed in the Duke Startup Challenge and founded a residential accelerator program for student entrepreneurs called InCube. He currently works with the Melissa and Doug Entrepreneurship program to coach student entrepreneurs at Duke and still lives in the area.
Caroline Fairchild, 27, graduated from Duke cum laude in 2012 with a degree in Public Policy, a minor in English and a Policy Journalism and a Media Studies Certificate. She earned a spot on this year’s 30 under 30 list for media because of her work as the managing news editor for LinkedIn, and prior to her promotion to that position she headed up the platform’s digital strategy on professional women and workplace gender issues. Before joining LinkedIn she founded The Broadsheet, Fortune’s first daily newsletter for women.
"It's such an honor to be included on a list with so many fantastic young leaders, including several who also went to Duke," Fairchild wrote. "I developed my passion for business journalism within the halls of The Chronicle office, and I feel very lucky to now be able to share that passion with big audiences both on and off LinkedIn."
Jacob Tobia, 26, earned a spot on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in media for selling their book “Sissy” to Putnam Books for six figures and working as a social media manager for the Emmy-award winning show “Transparent.” Tobia has become known nationally as a voice for nonbinary and gender non-conforming individuals, and previously worked with the United Nations Foundation and the Human Rights Campaign.
They graduated summa cum laude from Duke in 2014 with a Program II major and were a Distinguished Alumni Award Nominee in 2016-2017, a Benjamin N. Duke scholar and a Truman Scholarship recipient from 2014-2017. During their time at Duke, Tobia served as Duke Student Government’s Vice President of Equity and Outreach in 2014-2015. They are also a member of the Duke Entertainment Media Arts Network.
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Scott Martin, Pratt ‘14, is 25 and was named to the 30 under 30 Energy list for his work on a zero emission power system at 8 Rivers Capital. Named NET Power, the project works on an electric generation system that captures its own carbon emissions. Martin graduated with distinction and magna cum laude with a bachelor of science of engineering degree in mechanical engineering. During his time at the University, he was the captain and president of the Duke Ice Hockey team and member of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.
Twenty-seven year old Karim Khalil, Pratt ‘12, earned a spot on the 30 under 30 Energy list for developing a technology that recaptures water vapor that normally escapes power plants through evaporation, and then recycles the vapor into the cooling system. Khalil co-founded the Infinite Cooling startup using this technology. He graduated from Duke with a bachelor of science of engineering degree and majored in mechanical engineering.
Hannah Kate Sieber
Hannah Sieber, Trinity ‘13, cofounded EcoFlow Tech, which developed and produces a battery pack that holds its charge for one year and, at full capacity, can recharge a phone more than 30 times or a mini-fridge for 10 hours. The battery is sturdy and water resistant, and can be recharged with solar power, in addition to the traditional wall socket option. Sieber graduated with degrees in Chinese Studies and International Comparative Studies with highest distinction. During her time at Duke, Sieber was a part of Delta Gamma sorority and Business Oriented Women.
Twenty-nine year old Michael Dechert earned a spot on Forbes’ list for finance because of his role as an analyst for Farallon Capital Management, where he is a part of the value investment team for the $22 billion hedge fund and is responsible for $500 million of positions. He previously worked as a private equity investor at Hellman and Friedman.
Dechert graduated from Duke summa cum laude in 2010 with a bachelor of science degree in economics and the markets and management certificate. During his time on campus, he was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, a national honor society.
Tom Dadon, 26, earned a spot on the 30 under 30 list for finance because of his role as the head of mergers and acquisitions at The Kraft Heinz Company—a company with a $90 billion market capitalization. He worked on Heinz’s $45 billion merger with Kraft, and was in his current position when the company unsuccessfully attempted to buy Unilever for $143 billion.
He graduated summa cum laude from Duke in 2013 with a bachelor of science degree in economics. During his time on campus, Dadon was a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity and the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
Thea Neal, 29, won a spot on Forbes’ list of 30 under 30 in marketing and advertising for her work running the social media platforms for Hallmark’s 2000 gold crown stores. She’s been the social media leader at Hallmark Cards since 2016, and during her first year in that role her work gained more than three million engagements by users and more than 50 million impressions. She’s also the on-camera host for Party 101, which is the Hallmark-branded online DIY show.
Neal graduated from Duke’s graduate school with a master of arts degree in liberal studies in 2012, after earning her bachelor of arts degree in journalism in 2010 from Michigan State University. She wrote in an email that being on the list was a great moment for her.
"I believed in myself, but I'm still incredibly honored (and shocked) to be capable of something I've dreamed about since I was a kid," Neal wrote.
Ivonna Dumanyan and Gabrielle Levac
Ivonna Dumanyan, Pratt ‘16, and Gabrielle Levac, Trinity ‘14, were named to the 30 under 30 healthcare list for co-founding Fathom AI. Dumanyan tore two muscles while she was a member of the women’s rowing team. She and Levac, who was a part of the cross country and track and field team at Duke, developed a wearable artificial intelligence platform that helps mitigate injury through risk factor detection and early intervention.
Dumanyan graduated with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering in 2016 and a master's degree in mechanical engineering in 2017. Levac graduated with a bachelor of science degree in statistics, with a markets and managements certificate and a sociology minor.
Mike Posner, 29, earned a spot on the list of Forbes’ 30 under 30 for music because of his work not only as a singer, but also as a songwriter. In addition to singing the pop hits “Cooler than Me” and “I Took a Pill in Ibiza,” the multi-platinum artist has written for Justin Bieber, Wiz Khalifa and Avicii. “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” earned the Michigan-native a Grammy Nomination in 2016.
He graduated from Duke in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. Posner was a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity and worked with Small Town Records. He performed with Big Sean during Duke’s LDOC in 2009.
Daisy Jing, 28, created a company called Banish four years ago to offer organic, all-natural acne solutions and has grown the company to expect $3.5 million in revenue for this year—a feat that earned her a spot on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list for Manufacturing and Industry. Her acne channel on YouTube currently has more than 200,000 subscribers.
Jing graduated from Duke in 2010 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Economics and minors in religion and psychology. While on campus, she was a member of Duke’s Business Oriented Women and Chi Omega Sorority.
Charlie Neiman, 29, made the Forbes 30 under 30 list for media because of his work with sports content partnerships and business development at Amazon. He was influential in bringing live sports programming to the company's online platform, from co-negotiating deals for the NFL's Thursday Night Football to tennis' Next Gen ATP Finals for the online streaming service. He previously worked at Youtube developing their sports content, including the GoPro network—which has over 1.5 billion views.
Neiman graduated from Duke in 2010 with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and a minor in Sociology. On campus, he was involved with club water polo and was a member of Kappa Alpha Order Fraternity
Editor's note: This article was updated Thursday to include Neal's and Fairchild's comments.
Correction: This article was updated to reflect that 14 former Duke students included in the Forbes list, including Neiman, Posner and Jing who were previously excluded, and that Fairchild is 27, not 28.