September 15, 2023

Meet Some Black Innovators That Made The MIT Under 35 List 2023


The MIT 35 Innovators Under 35 is a yearly opportunity to look at where technology is, where it’s going, and who’s taking it there.

With more than 500 people nominated annually, the editors pick the most promising to reach the next round. Then, each candidate’s work is evaluated by a panel of expert judges.

This year, many people of color are featured in the list of 35. Here, we’ve listed some of the Black innovators that made the MIT 2023 Under 35 List. 

Daniel Omeiza

Daniel Omeiza

31-year-old Omeiza is working to solve the explainability problem in self-driving cars.

He has developed techniques that provide visual and language-based explanations for engineers and human drivers about why a car reacts in a specific way.

His most recent work automatically generates commentary about a car’s actions using a decision-tree technique that can parse data from the car’s perception and decision-planning systems.

He is currently working on integrating traffic laws into his system and is motivated to improve the safety of self-driving cars and help AI engineers code systems more efficiently.

Tyler Allen

Tyler Allen

Allen, aged 31, developed a live imaging system that allows researchers to observe how tumor cells move through the body – which could pave the way to more effective cancer treatments.

Allen’s system, which he developed as a doctoral student at North Carolina State University, makes it possible to view this spread in real-time.

To build it, his team injected human cancer cells into a zebrafish, which they’d genetically modified to make its blood vessels glow.

Using a high-powered laser microscope, they observed the cancer cells as they travelled through and exited the bloodstream, paying particular attention to those travelling in clusters, which pose a higher risk of forming tumours.

Allen’s team observed that some clusters managed to exit the blood vessel intact, and the insights his approach had could ultimately help researchers develop therapies that target cancer cells before they spread.

Monique McClain

Monique McClain

29-year-old McClain is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University.

She is developing ways to fine-tune the performance of propellants by producing them through a novel route: 3D printing.

The row-by-row manufacturing process promises to enable energetic materials with new shapes, more fine-grained layers, or different compositions

McClain has helped move the field forward in several ways, such as being the first to apply an emerging technique that rapidly vibrates a 3D printer’s nozzle tips to extrude such viscous substances more quickly.

That allowed her to print solid rocket propellants with higher energy density.

She also developed new techniques for assessing the characteristics of the resulting materials.

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.