Futurum’s ten teen influencers in science, tech and engineering

Teenagers. You tend to be portrayed as moody individuals, obsessed with YouTube and rarely seen outside your bedroom. But times are changing: corporations, politicians, the media and Joe public are starting to realise that people in your age group are a force to be reckoned with. Teenagers like you are staging global protests; winning Nobel Peace Prizes (remember Malala Yousafzai); attracting thousands if not millions of followers on social media, starting up companies, standing up to governments and – if that weren’t enough – inventing things for the good of humankind.

So, we’ve decided to celebrate these amazing achievements by creating a list of influential teenagers who are making a big impact in STEAMM – science, technology, engineering, arts (think design technology or science communication), maths and medicine. Here they are, listed in alphabetical order. (We hope you’ll be inspired to follow in their footsteps.)

Greta Thunberg, 16

Gabor KOVACS ©European Union 2019–Source: EP

Greta started her climate activism with her “School Strike for Climate” in front of the Swedish Parliament in August last year. Her strike has inspired millions of people – young and old – who are staging their own climate demonstrations all over the world. The Nobel Foundation doesn’t disclose its nominees for Nobel Prizes but, according to the BBC, Greta has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, meaning she will be the youngest person to receive the prize if she wins.

Instagram: 2.3m followers; Facebook: 1.1m likes; Twitter: 858,000 followers

Links to STEAMM: Environmental Science, Climate Science, Science Communication

Haile Thomas, 18 


Inspired by her father’s recovery from type 2 Diabetes after changing his diet, Haile Thomas was 12 years old when she founded HAPPY, a non-profit group that provides nutrition education to underserved communities, schools and summer camps. According to her website, Haile is now an international speaker, health activist, vegan food & lifestyle influencer, podcaster and the youngest Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach in the United States. She has also appeared on NowThis, BuzzFeed, MTV, CNN, The HARRY Show, the Today Show, Dr Oz, Home and Family Show and The Rachael Ray Show.

Instagram: 59,000 followers; Facebook: 5,200 likes; Twitter: 3,959 followers

Links to STEAMM: Food Science, Nutrition, Medicine, Science Communication

Jack Andraka, 22

Source: Martin Literary Management

Okay, so Jack isn’t a teenager, but he was 15 when he won $75,000 at the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for his invention of a pancreatic cancer test. Jake is currently studying electrical engineering and public policy at Stanford University in the US and is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer.

Instagram: 5,018 followers; Facebook: 26,000 likes; Twitter: 21,200 followers

Links to STEAMM: Electrical Engineering, Medicine, Nanotechnology, Econometrics

Kavya Kopparapu, 18

Source: Kavya Kopparapu

Kavya has created a deep-learning computer system that can provide vital information about patients’ brain tumours, and developed computer software that uses smartphones to detect diabetic retinopathy – a disease that affects the eyes. Both techniques are currently being tested in clinical trials. She is also founder of GirlsComputingLeague and has won lots of prestigious awards, including the Davidson Institute for Talent Development Laureate, which comes with a $50,000 scholarship.

Instagram: 1,235 followers; Twitter: 957 followers

Links to STEAMM: Medicine, Computer Science, STEM Education

Kehkashan Basu, 19

Source: Kehkashan Basu

Kehekashan Basu founded the Green Hope Foundation, a youth organisation working on UNESCO’s Education for Sustainable Development, children’s rights and environmental protection, in 2012 when she was only 12 years old. Seven years later and Green Hope operates in 14 countries. If that weren’t enough, Kehekashan is also Youth Ambassador for the World Future Council, Honorary Advisor for the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development in New York, former Global Coordinator for Children and Youth, UNEP MGFC, member of the World Oceans Day Youth Advisory Council, Climate Reality Leader, TEDx Speaker, One Young World Ambassador and United Nations Human Rights Champion.

Instagram: 760 followers; Facebook: 2,293 followers; Twitter: 1,302 followers

Links to STEAMM: Climate Science, Environmental Science, Science Communication

Melati and Isabel Wijsen, 18 and 16

Source: Bye Bye Plastic Bags; Photo credit: Andrew Wyton

Melati and Isabel founded Bye Bye Plastic Bags in Indonesia when they were only 12 and 10 years old. The organisation envisages a world free of plastic bags and has kick-started similar movements on an international scale. Melati and Isabel have spoken about their campaign on TED, have been named among the ten most inspiring women in Indonesia by Forbes Indonesia, listed in Time Magazine’s 25 most influential teens 2018 and were recently included in The Times Teen Power List 2019.

Facebook: 33,232 likes; Twitter: 1,752 followers­­­

Links to STEAMM: Environmental Science, Science Communication

Rayouf Alhumedhi, 17

Rayouf Alhumedhi

Rayouf wrote to Apple asking the tech giant to create an emoji of a woman in a hijab – the headscarf worn by millions of Muslim girls and women around the world. After she discovered how to submit a proposal to Unicode Consortium, she was set to work with a Unicode designer. According to emojipedia, the emoji known as “Woman with Headscarf” was approved in 2017. Rayouf has been named in the Times Teen Power List 2019 and Time Magazine’s 30 most influential teens in 2017.

Instagram: 2,490 followers

Links to STEAMM: Design and Technology, Computer Science

Rishab Jain, 14

Photo credit: DystopiaUnite; Source: Wikimedia Commons

Rishab won the 2018 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge with his software tool that has the potential to accurately locate the pancreas while patients undergo radiotherapy for pancreatic cancer. He was awarded the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist” and received a $25,000 prize. He has also been listed in Time Magazine’s 25 most influential teens 2018.

Twitter: 919 followers

Links to STEAMM: Medicine, Computer Science, Engineering

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, 19

Source: earthguardians.org

A rapper, activist and Global Youth Director of Earth Guardians, Xiuhtezcatl(pronounced Shoe-Tez-Chat) – along with 20 other young Americans – is suing the US Government for knowingly contributing to climate change. He was only six when he began speaking around the world, including at the Rio+20 United Nations Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Xiuhtezcati has been listed in The Times Teen Power List 2019 and Time Magazine’s 25 most influential teens 2018.

Instagram: 66,900 followers; Facebook: 43,263 followers; Twitter: 11,600 followers

Links to STEAMM: Environmental Science, Climate Science, Science Communication

We’ve only listed ten teenage influencers in STEAMM, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more of you out there. If you can you think of any other teenagers who are STEAMM movers and shakers, then let us know. We’ll be revisiting this list next year!