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."