MIT Tech Review Names UCSB’s Michelle O’Malley Among Its Innovators Under 35

O’Malley is cited for her work in nanotechnology and materials

UC Santa Barbara chemical engineering professor Michelle O’Malley was named by MIT Technology Review as one of its 2015 top Innovators Under 35. The prestigious annual list honors exceptionally talented young technologists whose work has great potential to transform the world.

“I am honored to be recognized by MIT Tech Review as one of their Innovators Under 35,” said O’Malley, who is considered by the publication as a pioneer in the field of nanotechnology and materials. “Each year this list features an impressive collection of individuals across diverse fields who are pushing the boundaries of science, engineering and technology. It’s amazing to be counted among these remarkable people, and I look forward to translating our basic science discoveries into engineering solutions.”

O’Malley studies anaerobic microbes and in her lab, they are more than just digesters of organic material. Whether in landfills, compost piles or in our bellies; these microbes are agents for new sources of energy and next-generation medicines.

“Compared to microbes that thrive in the presence of oxygen, anaerobes are woefully understudied,” O’Malley said. “They represent a vast, untapped resource for novel enzymes that degrade woody biomass into sugars, as well as compounds that could find use as new drugs.” Her research has resulted in new techniques to isolate anaerobes from biomass-rich environments to uncover their interdependencies. Forthcoming applications of this research include engineering anaerobic digesters, production of fuels and commodity chemicals from waste materials, and discovery of new natural products.

“Over the years, we’ve had success in choosing young innovators whose work has been profoundly influential on the direction of human affairs,” said Jason Pontin. MIT Tech Review editor in chief and publisher. “Previous winners include Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the cofounders of Google; Mark Zuckerberg, the cofounder of Facebook; and Jonathan Ive, the chief designer of Apple. We’re proud of our selections and the variety of achievements they celebrate, and we’re proud to add Michelle O’Malley to this prestigious list.”

This year’s honorees are highlighted online at, and in the September/October print magazine, which hits newsstands worldwide on September 1. They will appear in person at the upcoming EmTech MIT conference November 2-4 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

About MIT Technology Review

MIT Technology Review, which is wholly owned by MIT, creates award-winning technology-related editorial content on a variety of platforms for an audience of millions of business leaders, innovators, and thought leaders, in six languages and in 147 countries. At, readers access daily news and analysis, and the award-winning MIT Technology Review magazine has set the standard for technology publications since 1899. In addition to producing engaging live events, the company manages the global entrepreneurial organization MIT Enterprise Forum.

Share this article