Women on Top

Starting out with just a game-changing idea, a bulletproof business plan, or an electrifying design, these women are reinventing their industries and demolishing boys' clubs from the ranks of the military to Silicon Valley. They're all under 40, but those aren't stars in their eyes: They're planning a revolution.

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October 20, 2011 9:00 AM
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Top Scientist

Michelle Khine, 35, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, UC Irvine

Résumé: Raised by a physician father and a chemist mother in Queens, New York, Khine is revolutionizing Third World health care with Shrinky Dinks, of all things. In 2007, she made microfluidic chips with the toys; she's using the chips in affordable tests for diseases in poor countries, where patients often aren't diagnosed until it's too late.

Background Check: "My mom wanted to be an engineer, but she went to high school in the late '50s, when women couldn't take advanced courses. I studied mechanical engineering in her honor, and got a bioengineering Ph.D. in 2005."

Big Break: "At 12 a.m. one night in 2007, I had a eureka moment with Shrinky Dinks! Some of my colleagues said I'd be ridiculed, but when I published my findings, the article went viral and I got six job offers."

School's Out: "It's important to me to have a fun relationship with my students. We take Friday afternoon outings to play beach volleyball or go to the arcade."