YEGS Hall of Fame
The YEGS Hall of Fame honors those individual YEGS who have made significant contributions to society, changing our world for the better, one nation or one person at a time.
The members of the Hall of Fame have helped millions of people lead happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives.
Their contributions and accomplishments serve as an inspiration to future generations of Young Exceptionally Gifted Students.
Raven Alder (1976 – ). Raven graduated from high school at the age of 14 and college at 18. She was the first woman to give a presentation at the DefCon hacker’s conference. She designs, tests and audits intrusion detection systems for large federal agencies.
Balamurali Ambati: (1977- ). He graduated from New York University at the age of 13 and graduated from Mount Sinai School of Medicine at the age of 17 in 1995. He completed an ophthalmology residency at Harvard. He practices clinical ophthalmology and conducts research in such areas as corneal angiogenesis and outcomes of corneal and refractive surgery. He also volunteers with the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital, traveling to under-privileged countries to practice and teach ophthalmic surgery.
Ashkan Aminpour: (1975 - ). He started college at the age of 11 and graduated with a bachelors degree in the science of law at the age of 15. He was the youngest person to pass the bar at the age of 21 in 1996(until Kathleen Holtz) and was the youngest attorney in the state of California. He currently practices law in the state of California.
Ethel Andrus: (1884 – 1967). She graduated from Austin High School in Chicago at the age of 15. She received a bachelor’s in Philosophy from the University of Chicago at the age of 19, and received her masters and doctorate degrees from USC. She was the first woman high school principal in the state of California and was the founder of the National Retired Teachers Association in 1956 and then extended it in 1958 to create the AARP.
Susan Athey (1970 - ). She graduated from high school at the age of 16 in 1986 and entered Duke University. She graduated at the age of 20 with majors in Economics, Mathematics, and Computer Science. She earned her Ph.D. from Stanford at the age of 24. She is currently a Professor of Economics at Harvard University and is the first woman to win the biennial John Bates Clark Medal for the top American economist under the age of 40.
Dr. Habeeb Bacchus: (1929 – 2005). He entered Howard University at the age of 16 from British Guiana in 1945. He received a doctorate in physiology from GWU beginning in 1948 and completing it 18 months later at the age of 21. At the time he was the youngest person to ever receive a doctorate from GWU. He went on to enter GWU’s medical school. He helped devise techniques to screen for cancer and developed a diagnostic test to measure calcium levels in the blood that is still widely used today.
John Bardeen: (1908 – 1991). He graduated from University High School in Madison, Wisconsin in 1923 at the age of 15. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1928 with a B.S. in electrical engineering. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1956 for his work on semiconductors and the discovery of the transistor effect. In 1957, he and his colleagues also proposed the first successful explanation of superconductivity since its discovery in 1908.
Joseph Louis Bates: (1956 – ). He was the first student of Dr. Julian Stanley, founder of the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. He entered Johns Hopkins at the age of 13 and had completed a master’s degree in computer science by the age of 17. Today he is a leading international advocate for artificial intelligence-based entertainment, and a leading researcher in the field.
Katherine Blodgett (1898 – 1979). She graduated from the Rayson School at the age of 15 in 1913 and won a scholarship to Bryn Mawr College. She received a master’s degree in chemistry from University of Chicago. She was the first woman to win a Ph.D. in Physics from Cambridge in 1926. She was the first woman to work in the General Electric Laboratory in New York and has 8 patents to her name.
Leon Botstein (1946 - ). He graduated at age 16 from New York’s High School of Music and Art. He earned his B.A. from the U. of Chicago and his Ph.D. from Harvard. At 23, he became the youngest college president in U.S. history, leading Franconia College from 1970-1975. Since 1975, he has been the president of Bard College, while maintaining a critically acclaimed career as conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.
Paul Boyer: (1918 - ). He graduated from Provo High School at the age of 16 in 1934. He attended Brigham Young University and received a B.S. in chemistry in 1939. He received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin in 1943. He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1997 for the clarification of the enzymatic mechanism for the synthesis of ATP.
Sergey Brin (1973 – ). At the age of six, Sergey moved from Moscow to Maryland. He attended a Montessori School and learned much at home from his father, a math professor, and his mother, a research scientist at NASA. Sergey studied computer science at the University of Maryland, graduating at the age of 19. In a Ph.D. program at Stanford, he developed a “data mining” system that became the basis of the world’s fastest search engine. He and classmate Larry Page left Stanford to start a company in a rented garage—they called the company “Google.”
Robert L. Carter: (1917 - ). He graduated high school at the age of 16 and went on to receive a Bachelors in political science from Lincoln University and a law degree from Howard University by the age of 23 in 1940. He then earned his Masters of laws from Columbia a year later. His master’s thesis later defined the NAACP’s legal strategy on the right to freedom of association under the First Amendment. He presented part of the Brown V. Board of Education argument to the Supreme Court.
Colin Camerer: (1959 - ). He received a B.A. in quantitative studies from Johns Hopkins at the age of 18, and an MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago at the age of 20. He then received a Ph.D. in behavioral decision theory at the age of 22, also from the University of Chicago. He is a professor at Cal Tech and he researches and lectures on the psychological and neurobiological bases of decision making that determine the validity of human economic behavior.
Chi-Bin Chien: (1965- 2011). Graduated from Johns Hopkins University at the age of 15 in 1981.He received a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 1991. He now has a lab named after him at the University of Utah and he works there as a professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy. His lab studies the genes and cell behaviors that deal with our neurological senses.
Ritankar Das: (1994 – ).
Ritankar Das graduated as UC Berkeley’s youngest recorded University Medalist at 18 and is an Oxford MSc candidate at 19. He founded an education NGO, See Your Future, at 16, reaching 75 million people worldwide. Lauded by the Smithsonian as a “future Nobel Laureate”, Das began alternative energy research at the age of 12, and was selected as the youngest graduate fellow of the US National Science Foundation.
Hugh L. Dryden: (1898 – 1965). He graduated from Baltimore City College, a high school, at the age of 14, he went on to graduate from Johns Hopkins three years later in 1916 with an M.S. in physics and then continue on at Johns Hopkins to earn a Ph.D. by the age of 20 in physics and mathematics in 1919. He became an aerodynamicist working on various projects including bombs and planes during WWII. He later became deputy administrator of NASA.
Gertrude B. Elion: (1918 – 1999). She graduated high school at the age of 15. She graduated from Hunter College in 1937 at the age of 19 with a bachelor’s in chemistry and from New York University in 1941 with a master of science. Her life goal was to work on a cure for cancer after losing her grandfather to the disease. She helped develop the first two successful drugs in the treatment of leukemia. She earned the Nobel Prize in Physiology of Medicine in 1988 for her discovery of important principles for drug treatment.
Brittney Exline: (1992 - ). She graduated from Palmer High School, Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 2007 at the age of 15 with an International Baccalaureate diploma. She was then accepted to the University of Pennsylvania and became the youngest African-American female ever to be accepted to an Ivy League institution. She completed an internship at a small hedge fund on Wall Street at the age of 16, and at 17 she received the opportunity to go to Cameroon for the summer and work with One Laptop per Child.
Ronan Seamus Farrow: (1987 - ). He entered Bard College at Simon’s Rock at the age of 11 in 1998, becoming their youngest student ever. He was accepted to Yale Law School at the age of 16 but deferred his admission until the age of 19 in 2006 in order to work as Special Assistant to Richard Holbrooke for work with UNICEF. He went on to graduate from Yale Law School and is currently the Special Adviser on Humanitarian and NGO Affairs, Afghanistan and Pakistan, at the State Department.
Charles Fefferman (1949 - ). He entered college at the age of 12 at the University of Maryland, published his first academic paper at the age of 15, in German and graduate with bachelor’s in mathematics and physics at the age of 17 in 1966. He earned a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Princeton and became a full professor of mathematics at the University of Chicago by 22. At 24 he returned to Princeton and is still a professor of Mathematics there. He was the winner of the 1978 Fields Medal (the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in mathematics) for his work in mathematical analysis.
Murray Gell-Mann: (1929 - ). He graduated from Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School as valedictorian at the age of 15. He earned a B.S. from Yale at the age of 19 in 1948 and a Ph.D. from MIT at the age of 21 in 1951. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1969 for his work on the theory of elementary particles.
Ruth Gruber: (1911 - ). She graduated from high school at the age of 15. She earned a bachelor and masters degree by the age of 19 and began a doctorate program in Cologne, Germany in 1931 completing her Ph.D. in one year. The New York Times discussed her then as the youngest person to pursue a Ph.D. at the age of 20. She participated in aiding Jews in Europe to escape the Nazi’s, working for the United States government in a “simulated general” so that if she were captured she would be protected under the Geneva Conventions. She continued life as a journalist covering humanitarian issues.
Armand Hammer: (1898 – 1990). He graduated from Morris High School in the Bronx at the age of 16. He finished undergrad studies at Columbia University at age 20 and graduated from the Medical School at age 23 in 1921. In the 1920s, he sold pharmaceuticals and wheat to the USSR in exchange for caviars and furs. Back in the U.S., he launched an array of businesses, collected art, donated to charities, and became a billionaire through his control of Occidental Petroleum.
Steven Hebert: (1946 – 2008). In 1961, he entered Florida State University at the age of 15. After graduating from medical school at the University of Florida, he became one of the nation’s leading nephrologists. Dr. Hebert made important discoveries about how the kidneys process potassium, sodium, and calcium. They led to a new class of drugs used to treat hyperparathyroidism, which affects hundreds of thousands of patients with end-stage kidney disease. He was the director of Nephrology at Yale University when he passed away in 2008.
Riana Helmi: (1991 - ). Riana was born in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. The daughter of a police officer, she started elementary school two years early at the age of four. She sped through junior high and high school in West Java, completing her 12th grade year by the age of 14. She entered medical school in the city of Yogyakarta, earned her medical degree at the age of 17 years, 11 months, and became the youngest doctor in Indonesia.
Leta Hollingworth: (1886 – 1939). She graduated from Valentine High cshool at the age of 16 in 1902 and entered the University of Nebraska. She received a Masters of Education from Columbia University. She is known for first beginning the research into gifted children. She was also one of the first individuals to research and conclude that women were not biologically inferior to men.
Kathleen Holtz: (1989 – ). Kathleen entered Cal State Los Angeles at the age of 10 and entered UCLA law school at the age of 15. In 2007, she graduated from law school and passed the California Bar Examination, notorious for being the most difficult in the nation. At a mere 18 years of age, when most students are starting college, Kathleen became the youngest lawyer in the state of California and successfully represented the plaintiff if her first case that went to trial.
Andrew Hsu: (1991 - ). At the age of 2, Andrew built a Lego robot as tall as he was and began teaching himself to read. At 11, he became the youngest ever grand-prize winner at the Washington State Science Fair for his research into a gene found in humans and mice. At 12, he was ranked 4th in the U.S. for his age in the 100 yard butterfly. Just weeks after his 16th birthday in 2007, Andrew graduated from the University of Washington with degrees in neurobiology, biochemistry, and chemistry. Currently, he is a Ph.D. student in Neurosciences at Stanford University.
Anne-Marie Imafidon: (1990 - ). She was the youngest girl ever to pass A-level computing at the age of 11 in Britain. At 13 in 2003, she received a British scholarship to study Mathematics at Johns Hopkins University. At 15 in 2005, she was admitted to start a degree program by the University of Oxford. At 17, she started a Masters degree and in June 2010 she became one of the youngest ever masters degree graduate from Oxford University.
Akrit Jaswal: (1993 - ). At the age of 6, Akrit received permission to observe operations at a hospital in his native India. A year later, he performed surgery on a girl whose family was too poor to afford official care. At 11 in 2005, he was admitted to Punjab University. By 14, he was studying for a master’s degree in applied chemistry.
Michael Kearney: (1984 - ). He completed his Bachelors degree by the age of 10 from the University of South Alabama in 1994. He received a masters degree in biochemistry at the age of 14, in 1998, from Middle Tennessee State University and began teaching at Vanderbilt at the age of 16 receiving a second masters degree in computer science from there at the age of 17.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968). Martin enrolled at Morehouse College in Atlanta at the age of 15. He graduated with a B.A. in sociology at 19, studied theology in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, and earned his Ph.D. from Boston University. Dr. King returned to the segregated south in 1954, preaching at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. He was the most prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement, delivered the famed “I Have a Dream Speech” in Washington, D.C., and won the Nobel Prize in 1964. He was assassinated in 1968.
Arthur Kornberg: (1918 – 2007). He attended Abraham Lincoln High School. He graduated from City College of New York at the age of 19 in 1937and received an M.D. from the University of Rochester at the age of 23 in 1941. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1959 for the discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid.
Alan Kotok: (1941 – 2006). He attended Vineland High School in New Jersey before entering MIT at the age of 16 in 1958. He received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from MIT in electrical engineering. He helped to develop what is often called the first videogame, Spacewar!. He was also part of the team that wrote the Kotok-McCarthy program, which took part in the first chess match between computers. He continued to advance in the world of programming and the Web.
Michael Lanham: (1981 – ). He graduated from Marion County High School at the age of 15 and in 2000 at the age of 18 he graduated from Centre College with a double major in mathematics and music and was the youngest recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship in the group. As of 2007 he was a fourth-year medical student at the University of Michigan applying to residency programs for obstetrics and gynecology.
Moses Lasky: (1908-April 7, 2002). Moses completed his high school studies in Denver at the age of 14. He financed his studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, by selling books door to door. He completed both his undergraduate and law degrees by the age of 20, when he was still too young to join the Colorado Bar Association. He earned a Master’s Degree from Harvard Law School, then moved to San Francisco to begin his practice. He argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and defended such clients as Howard Hughes, J. Paul Getty, and the Oakland Raiders.
Joshua Lederberg: (1925 – 2008). He graduated from Stuyvesant High School at the age of 15 and entered Columbia at the age of 16 in 1941 majoring in zoology. From 1944-1946 he attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University Medical School. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or medicine at the age of 33 for discovering that bacteria can mate and exchange genes. He was also the founder of the Stanford Department of Genetics.
Richard W. Lee: (1955 – ). Richard was born in the Philippines to Chinese parents, immigrated to California, and graduated from high school at the age of 14. After completing undergraduate studies at Cal State Long Beach, he entered Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia. Dr. Lee completed medical school at the age of 22 and went on to study interventional cardiology. He cares for patients at the famed Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Ryan Leslie: (1978 – ). He attended Bear Creek High School in Stockton, California. He scored a perfect score of 1600 on the SAT at the age of 14. He earned a degree in Government at Harvard at the age of 19 in 1997. He is a producer, songwriter, and singer who has collaborated with Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Cassie, and P. Diddy.
Yo-Yo Ma: (1955 – ). He graduated from New York City’s Professional Children’s School at the age of 15, the same year he made his first performance at Carnegie Hall. He performed for both JFK and Eisenhower at the age of 7. He entered Columbia University in 1972 and transferred to Harvard after a semester graduating with a B.A. in humanities in 1976.
Sandra Day O’Connor: (1930 – ). She graduated from Austin High School in El Paso, Texas at the age of 16 in 1946, and graduated from Stanford at the age of 20 with a B.A. in economics in 1950, she then attended Stanford Law School. She was the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
Paul Zane Pilzer (1954 – ). Paul Zane Pilzer is a highly successful economist, professor, author, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. Pilzer completed Lehigh University in three years and received his MBA from Wharton at age 22. At 24, he was appointed adjunct professor at NYU; at 25, he became Citibank’s youngest vice-president. He was an economic adviser in two presidential administrations and has published best-selling books such as Other People’s Money, God Wants You to be Rich, and The New Wellness Revolution.
Condoleezza Rice: (1954 – ). She graduated from St. Mary’s Academy in Denver, Colorado at the age of 15 and received a bachelor’s of political science from the University of Denver in 1974, and her masters from Notre Dame in 1975. She then received her Ph.D. from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver in 1981. She became Secretary of State in 2004.
Alia Sabur: (1989 – ). She became the youngest woman to enter college at the age of 10 and the youngest woman to earn a bachelor of science degree in Applied Mathematics four years later from Stony Brook University. She received her M.S. from Drexel University in 2006. At the age of 18 she earned her doctorate in Materials Science and Engineering.
Louise Sklar: (1915 – ). Louise skipped two grades in her Kansas elementary school and graduated from Manhattan High School in 1930 at the age of 15. Despite not having taken the prerequisite classes, she was admitted into the Kansas State University veterinary medicine program and was the only female in a class of 40 students. She graduated at the age of 19 with two degrees, Master of Science and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. She had a successful career as both a researcher and instructor.
Gregory Smith: (1989 – ). He received his Bachelor’s degree at the age of 13 in 2003 and his masters from University of Virginia by 16 2005. He then began studying for four doctorates in international relations, engineering, aerospace and math and had been nominated for three Nobel Peace prizes for his non-violence work and is the founder if International Youth Advocates, an organization that promotes principles of peace and understanding among young people throughout the world.
Karisa Solt: (1986 – ). She began taking classes at New Jersey’s Science and Technology University at the age of 14 and enrolled as a fulltime student at the age of 15, then graduated three years later at the age of 18 in 2004. She was then one of only a handful of students accepted in Johns Hopkins dual-degree medical and Ph.D. program, and she received a full scholarship.
Shlomo Sternberg: (?) Professor of Mathematics at Harvard University, member of the American Philosophical Society. Sternberg received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Johns Hopkins by the age of 18. Sternberg is a world leader in the fields of symplectic geometry and the differential geometry of G-structures. He is also known for debunking fraudulent mathematical claims made by Michael Drosnin in the best-selling book The Bible Code.
Johanna Tabin: (1925 – 2010). Johanna’s father was a psychologist, and her mother was the 3rd woman to graduate from the Univ. of Illinois school of dentistry. Johanna graduated from Northwestern University at 18 and earned her Ph.D. from the Univ. of Chicago at 21. She studied psychoanalysis in London with Sigmund Freud’s daughter Anna, and co-founded the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis. She treated hundreds of patients without charging a fee, wrote dozens of articles and books, and received two life-time achievement awards from the American Psychological Association.
Terence Tao: (1975 - ). He began taking high school classes at the age of 8 and by 11 he was learning calculus and competing in international mathematics competitions. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the age of 17 from Flinders University in 1992. He earned his Ph.D. from Princeton at the age of 21 and became a professor at UCLA the same year. UCLA promoted him to a full professor of mathematics at the age of 24.
Burt James Totora (1969 – ). Burt joined the Johns Hopkins SMPY (Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth) when he was in grade school. At the age of 12, he enrolled at Princeton University. He graduated in 1984, received his Ph.D. in mathematics at U.C. Berkeley in 1989, and was named Professor of Astronomy and Geometry at the University of Cambridge. He teaches publishes dozens of influential articles, treatises, and books. In 2000, he was awarded the coveted Whitehead Prize by the London Mathematical Society; in 2009, he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society, whose members have included Sir Isaac Newton and scores of other intellectual luminaries.
Valerie Vigoda: (1967 - ). She was admitted to Princeton University at the age of 14. After a year at Princeton she withdrew to attend a conservatory to continue her classical violin training. She returned to Princeton a few years later and graduated with honors and a degree in Sociology in 1987. She is the founding member of the band GrooveLily and now plays an electric violin.
Robert Penn Warren: (1905 – 1989). Robert finished from high school in Kentucky at 15 and entered Vanderbilt University at 16, studying literature and graduating at 20. He went on to U.C. Berkeley and Yale, won a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University, and lived in Italy as a Guggenheim fellow. He was celebrated for his prose (winning the Pulitzer Prize for All the King’s Men in 1946), poetry (Pulitzer Prizes in 1958 and 1979, named the nation’s first Poet Laureate in 1968), and literary analysis (a leader in “New Criticism” in the 1940s and 1950s).
James Watson: (1928 - ). He graduated from South Shore High School and entered the University of Chicago in 1943 at the age of 15. He received his B.S. in Zoology in 1947 and his Ph.D. at the age of 22 from Indiana University in 1950. He was part of the team of three who deduced the double helix structure of DNA and received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for “their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material”.
Norbert Wiener: (1894 – 1964). He graduated from Ayer High School in 1906 at the age of 11 and entered Tufts College. He graduated from Tufts in 1909, a year early at only 14, with a degree in mathematics and entered Harvard receiving his Ph.D. from at the age of 18. He developed various mathematical theorems and equations throughout his life and worked with cybernetics.
Sho Yano: (1991- ). He entered Loyola University Chicago at the age of 9 and graduated summa cum laude at the age of 12 in 2003. He then entered the Pritzker School of Medicine and received a Ph.D. and an M.D. in molecular genetics and cell biology by the age of 18 in 2009.