2018 Straubel Leadership Award Winners

Our annual Leadership Awards recognize the best in achievement and leadership potential, and are one of the concrete ways we seek to assist young leaders and scholars in STEM, Sustainability and leadership itself. We are excited to share our 2018 Straubel Engineers of the Future, Rising Leaders and Impact Leaders.


Eric Reynolds Brubaker

Driven by “an intense empathy for others,” Eric has recently launched a social venture in Tanzania to distribute a solar-powered income generating appliance for off-grid chicken-raising families. “After Stanford, I wish to continue creating and growing organizations that build a future in which all people have what they need to thrive: access to safe water, reliable electricity, a healthy planet, lasting income, quality education, and psychologically safe settings.”

See Eric’s other awards and achievement below.


Kelsey Skaggs

By her second year at Harvard Law, Kelsey was already in practice as founder of the Climate Defense Project. CDP seeks to catalyze the climate movement with aggressive legal action to protect human health and our planet. “The climate movement is in a pivotal moment, and legal progress is essential if it is to realize its full potential. In 3-5 years, CDP aims to scale its model and win recognition of the climate necessity defense in other states.”

See Kelsey’s other awards and achievement below.


Adam Eberwein

Adam Eberwein is the Director of Microgrid Operations at EarthSpark International, started  overseeing EarthSpark’s inaugural microgrid in Les Anglais, Haiti, just months before Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016. While rebuilding one grid, he is also leading the development of 3 additional community-sized, smart grids in the region. To add to his deep commitment to sustainability, Adam has recently begun his Masters in Engineering.

See Adam’s other awards and achievement below.


Diego Ontaneda Benavides

With the Latin American Leadership Academy (LALA), Diego is investing in the next generation of young leaders by putting on leadership boot camps in Brazil, Colombia, and eventually across Latin America. “Each boot camp brings LALA to the host country, builds a “hub” of local allies, and engages in powerful word-of-mouth marketing,” he tells us. “These efforts create fertile ground across the continent to help us launch our flagship 18-month program in two years.” Diego calls his superpower “creative optimism”, the tendency to seek opportunities in any situation.

See Diego’s other awards and achievement below.


Connie Liu

Connie Liu envisions an educational approach that shifts “priorities away from test scores and towards developing creative problem solvers.” Her solution? Get students inventing things, ASAP. Her startup nonprofit Project Invent partners with schools across the country to to offer special programs to help young minds develop within an invention mindset, and with Project Invent’s guidance, students have developed everything from smart wallets to help the blind detect bill denominations to steering wheel attachments to prevent drowsy driving.

See Connie’s other awards and achievement below.


Heather Hochrein

Heather is doing her part to address climate change by founding what she calls a “small but bold company” called EVmatch. The company deploys electric vehicle charging solutions that will help drive the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. “My superpower is tenacity,” she told us. “In less than two years, EVmatch has built web and mobile applications, launched, and have grown the network to over 500 EV drivers in California and Colorado.”

See Heather’s other awards and achievement below.


Daniela Fernandez

Daniela is Founder and CEO of Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA), a global organization that advances the impact of youth-led social enterprises, start-ups and community projects to protect and sustain our oceans. By building an incubator for a new generation of startups, Daniela is not only building one organization -- she’s multiplying her impact.

See Daniela’s other awards and achievement below.


Madhav Datt

Madhav was only eight years old when he founded Green the Gene, and fourteen years later its record is impressive: projects in 62 countries, raised over $1.1 million in annual funding and support, and mobilized over 7000 young people to join in leading change in their local communities. He tells us “I strongly believe that climate change is the biggest challenge of our generation, and it is up to us, young technologists, engineers and entrepreneurs to build solutions.”

See Madhav’s other awards and achievement below.


Margaret Poda

Now conducting field research on Sakhalin Island in Russia, Margaret told us she would not be where she is today without a “pure, unadulterated need to explore the world.” As for her near-term goals, she tells us “I am very interested in working at a place that offers me greater insight into young entrepreneurs in Russia and the US to learn more about the various challenges that they face and possibly how I might be able to help in the future.”

See Margaret’s other awards and achievement below.


Ritish Patnaik

Ritish leads Luso Labs, which has built a diagnostic device using imaging, machine learning and Android phones to increase cervical cancer screening accuracy for low-income women around the world. With $400K in grants, Luso is now gearing towards a pilot study in India in early 2019. He tells us he’s inspired by his dual identity as a child of the developed and the developing world.

See Ritish’s other awards and achievement below.


Jadelynn Dao

At age 15, Jadelynn has already led championship teams in competitive robotics tournaments, winning 10 awards, 5 tournament titles, while also teaching a Girls Who Code club at her old elementary school. She told us a fascinating story of a personal and team turning point -- at a most intense moment of competitive risk!

See Jadelyn’s other awards and achievement below.

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Marissa Walter

When Marissa applied for a campus arts grant, she made her first sentence a memorable one:  “I want to vandalize Allegheny College and Meadville.” But by vandalism she meant planting gardens all over, raising novel and sophisticated questions of ownership, the commons, and nature. This Fall, Marissa takes her way-outside-the-box thinking to Carnegie Mellon, where she’s pursuing her master’s degree in the College of Engineering in the Energy Science, Technology, and Policy (EST&P) program.

See Marissa’s other awards and achievement below.

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Ritik Patnaik

Ritik discovered his love for making things when his brother introduced him to a “makers kit”. Since then, he hasn’t stopped building. He told us a quote from his favorite book, the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

See Ritik’s other awards and achievement below.

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Amanda Boone

Amanda describes herself as having a ‘Go for the Gusto’ attitude, and plans to put her engineering and business acumen to use for meaningful ends. A graduate student in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford, she’s now working on her first entrepreneurial venture, incorporating sewing, craft-making, fashion, and expression with electronics and computational thinking.

See Amanda’s other awards and achievement below.


Other Awards and Achievements:

Eric Brubaker Reynolds

  • 2021 Stanford University: PhD, Mechanical Engineering

  • 2018 Stanford University, MS, Mechanical Engineering

  • 2009 The Ohio State University: BS, Mechanical Engineering, minors in Chemistry, Philosophy, International Development

  • Stanford Graduate Public Service Fellowship

  • 2018 Haas Center for Public Service

  • 2017 Best Research Paper Award, American Society of Engineering Education Conference

  • 2017 Cooperative Agreement, US Agency of International Development

  • 2016 Graduate Research Fellowship, U.S. National Science Foundation

  • 2015 Program Grant, Newman’s Own Foundation

  • 2015 Program Grant, Sorenson Impact Foundation

  • 2012 Program Grant, Bohemian Foundation

  • 2011 Semi-Finalist, Emerging Markets Category, MIT $100K Business Plan Competition

  • 2010 E-Teams Grant, National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance

  • 2009 1st Place in Engineering, Ohio State Undergraduate Research Forum

  • 2009 Rob Wolf Outstanding Senior Award, Ohio State Mechanical Engineering

  • 2009 Excellence in Community Service Award (two of ~55,000 students)

  • 2009 Elected Board Member, Beanie Drake Student Leadership Endowment Fund

  • 2009 Elected President, Ohio State Engineers for Community Service

Kelsey Skaggs:

  • 2018 Echoing Green Climate Fellow

  • 2016 Harvard Law School: JD, cum laude

  • University of California, Davis: BA, International Relations

  • 2016 Harvard Law School Public Service Venture Fund

  • Constance Baker Motley National Writing Competition for NSA Surveillance Programs and the First Amendment

  • 2016 University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law

  • 2015 Ford Foundation Social Justice Fellow

  • 2015 Chayes International Public Service Fellow

  • President, Harvard Law Students for Sustainable Investment

  • President, Harvard Law School Forum

  • Co-President, Harvard Environmental Law Society

Madhav Datt:

  • 2017 Harvard University: VUS, Computer Science

  • Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur: BS, MS, Computer Science

  • The Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Development Work

  • Fellowship to the Royal Commonwealth Society, awarded by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust

  • Yenching Social Innovation Award

  • Water filtration devices providing safe water access to 40,000+ people

  • TEXATA Data Science Championship: World finalist

  • Volvo Adventure Project

  • Youth Environmentalist of the Year, awarded by the President of India

  • Advisory Mentor to the Queen's Young Leaders Programme, University of Cambridge

  • TEDx India. "How young people can drive environmental Innovation?"

  • 2017 Yenching Social Innovation Forum, Beijing, China

  • 2017 UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), Nairobi, Kenya, as member of the MGFC and Global Representative of Children and Youth to the UNEP

  • 2015 UN General Assembly, High Level Event on Climate Change, New York

Marissa Walter

  • 2020 Carnegie Mellon University: MS, College Energy Science, Technology, and Policy

  • 2016 Allegheny College, BS Environmental Science

  • 2018 Women's International Network of Utility Professionals Fellowship

  • Lyle Mamer fellowship award

  • 2018 Clean Energy Leadership Award from the Midwest Renewable Energy Association & the Straubel Foundation

  • Alden Scholar Dean’s List 180 Medical Scholarship

  • Kleeman Fund grant

  • MASA Study Abroad Scholar

  • Ohio Music Education Association All-State Choir

  • Shorin-Ryu Karate Brown Belt (Practicing since 1999, kata, grappling, jiu jitsu, & synchronized kata)

  • Aikido first rank

  • National Thespians Honor Society

  • National French Honors Society

Ritik Patnaik

  • Currently pursuing B.A. at University of North Texas

  • 2019 Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science

  • 2018 Massachusetts Institute of Technology: LaunchX Program

  • Founder of the Project Invent Club at TAMS

  • 2018 Cornell Cup Pitch Competition for IOT & Embedded Systems Projects

  • 2018 International Scientific Online Project Olympiad

  • 2017-18 Raspberry Pi Instructables Contest

  • 2017 Texas BEST & UIL State Robotics Championship

  • 2017 Intel International Science Engineering Fair

  • 2017 Texas State Science Fair

  • Yale Science Fair Award

  • 2016 Google Global Science Fair

  • 2016 ISWEEEP Olympiad – Korean Science Service Award

Jadelynn Dao

  • NCWIT National Award

  • California State Legislature Assembly Recognition

  • Union School District - 1st place at a regional robotics

  • 2018 Society of Women Engineering GetSET Program Class Ambassador

  • Robotics (FIRST LEGO League): 3 years Robot Performance Qualifier 1st Place, 2 years Qualifier Champion, 2-Time NorCal Regional

  • 2016 FIRST World Festival (Robot score: 10th of 108 teams), International Champion of the NASA Mountain State

  • 2018 VCSL Swim Championship – Team MVP and Record Holder

  • Elected to Student Council since 2011

  • VP to Honors Society

Ritish Patnaik

  • 2020 Stanford University Phd, Bioengineering

  • 2016 Columbia University: BS, Biomedical Engineering, Cum Laude

  • 2022 Harvard Business School: MBA

  • 2018 Vodafone Wireless Innovation Project Prize

  • 2017 Cisco Innovation Challenge Prize

  • 2016 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

  • 2016 Stanford ChEM-H CBI Training Fellowship

  • 2016 Reiss Prize

  • 2015 Goldwater Scholar

  • 2015 Co-President and 2014 Vice-President of Columbia Biomedical Engineering Society

  • 2015 Editor-in-Chief and 2014 Vice-President of Columbia Undergraduate Science Journal

  • 2014 Co-President and 2013 Vice-President of Columbia Engineers Without Borders Chapter

  • 2013 Columbia Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

  • 2012 UT Southwestern Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

  • 2011 Harvard Stem Cell Institute Summer Research Fellowship

Adam Eberwein

  • 2013 California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo: BS, Mechanical Engineering

  • Michigan Tech University: MS, Electrical Engineering Power Systems (currently pursuing)

  • Professional Engineer (PE) license as a Mechanical Engineer and am now also working towards my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification

  • Member, Pi Tau Sigma (International Honor Society for Mechanical Engineers)

  • University of Applied Sciences, Munich

Connie Liu

  • 2016 Massachusetts Institute of Technology: BS, Mechanical Engineering, Phi Beta Kappa

  • 2015 University of Cambridge Mechanical Engineering

  • VP of MIT Society of Women Engineers

  • Founded & Directed MIT Design for America

  • Founded & Directed Project Invent

  • Business Insider nominated Incredibly Impressive Student at MIT

  • GE Scholarship

  • Buick Scholarship

  • 4.0 Schools Tiny Fellow

  • Philanthropic Ventures Fellow

  • Facebook Grant Recipient

  • FingerReader (project featured in Time, Business Insider, etc.)

Diego Ontaneda Benavides

  • 2018 Stanford University: MBA, Business Administration and Management

  • 2011 Williams College: BA, Political Economy

  • 2010 University of Oxford Economics, Politics, Philosophy, Law

  • Echoing Green Fellow

  • Stanford GSB Miller Social Change Leadership Award

  • Co-President of GSB Social Innovation Club

  • Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude at Williams College

  • Arthur B. Graves Prize for Political Economy Essay at Williams College

Margaret Poda

  • Georgetown University: Dean's List

  • 2018 Conference Speaker at ASPAC 2018, the Russian Far East

  • Leslie J. Zambo Scholar

  • 2018 Freeman Foundation Fellow, field researcher on Sakhalin Island

  • Middlebury Institute of International Studies Merit Scholarship

  • Member of Dobro Slovo National Slavic Honor Society

  • 2018 Frontier Market Scouts: Impact Investing and Social Enterprise Management Certification

Amanda Boone

  • 2018 Stanford: MS, Management Science and Engineering

  • 2015 Rice University: BS, Mechanical Engineering

  • Stanford University MS&E Department Service Award

  • 2018 ACM Interaction Design and Children (IDC) Conference

  • Rice University Outstanding Senior Award

  • NIBIB DEBUT Challenge IncuBaby

  • Rice University Engineering Best Interdisciplinary Design: IncuBaby

  • Rice University Outstanding Bioengineering Design Project: Incubaby

  • 2014 “A Robot System Design for Low-Cost Multi-Robot Manipulation” in IROS

Daniela Fernandez

  • 2016 Georgetown University: BS, Economics and Government

  • 2017 Harvard Business School: Summer Management Venture Program

  • Recognized for her work by former U.S. Secretary John Kerry and EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella

  • 2016 World Economic Forum Global Shaper, Azula’s Top 5 Ocean Heroes  

  • 2016 Glamour Magazine’s Young Women of the Year

  • Peter Benchley Ocean Award

  • Contributor to National Geographic blog and Sustainable Brands

  • Interviewed by Voice of America, New York City TV, Ocean Radio, The Economist World Ocean Summit, United Nations, Net Impact Conference, World Ocean Festival, Collision Conference, and WE Day.

Heather Hochrein

  • 2018 Echoing Green Climate Fellow

  • 2016 University of California, Santa Barbara: MS, Environmental Science and Management

  • 2009 University of California, Berkeley: BS, Molecular Environmental Biology

  • 2009 UC Berkeley Alumni Leadership Scholarship

  • 2008 Elected UC Berkeley Ski Team President

  • 2015 Winner, MSNBC/Net Impact Growing Hope Competition

  • 2016 UC Berkeley Cleantech University Prize

  • 2017 Boulder Energy Challenge

  • 2017 MergeLane Accelerator portfolio company