Women on Top Awards: The Transformers

For Marie Claire's third annual Women on Top Awards, we combed the country for the up-and-comers leading thought-revolutions, creating businesses, and making names for themselves in fields from the military to the arts. None is a day over 40, with a couple of notable exceptions: We've added a "Super Woman" category to celebrate women of any age who made their mark on 2012. But their accomplishments speak for themselves...


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    6. Top Scientist

    Nina Tandon, 33, postdoctoral researcher, Columbia University


    Résumé: As a kid, Tandon obsessively dismantled her vacuum-tube TV. After college, she got a biomedical engineering Ph.D. from Columbia, and today she works at Columbia's stem cells and tissue engineering lab, where the consummate multitasker (she just earned an MBA in her spare time) develops cardiac tissue to repair damage in heart attack patients. The goal? Create a living heart for transplants.

    Path to the Top: "Growing up in India, my father's mother wanted to study math, but it was her younger brother who became a well-known mathematician. My dad said, 'Since you can do math and science, you owe it to women to do it.' That became my battle cry, and I was one of four women among 38 electrical engineers in my graduating class at New York City's Cooper Union."

    Defining Moment: "My first day as a Ph.D. student, I found a bug in the lab — the stimulators we were using to activate the cardiac tissue weren't producing the same amount of current. I ended up as the lead author on a paper, published in Nature, about best practices in experiments like that."

    Marathon Woman: "I love running; marathons are a great way to see a new city, and I've done five. But I'm pretty slow. During the New York City Marathon in 2011, I drank Bloody Marys all the way down Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn — it was like a big block party. I finished in 5.5 hours, and I was happy with that."

    Graeme Mitchell
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