Five Science and Technology Leaders Elected to Hertz Foundation Board of Directors

Newswise — The Fannie and John Hertz Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering the nation’s most promising innovators in science and technology, today announced the election of five new members to its board of directors: Cheri Ackerman, co-founder and CEO, Concerto Biosciences; Steven B. Lipner, executive director, SAFECode; Max Mankin, co-founder and CTO, Modern Hydrogen; Michael Schnall-Levin, founding scientist and CTO, 10x Genomics; and Alfred Spector, visiting scholar, MIT, and senior advisor, Blackstone.

The new board members bring a remarkable breadth of experience and accomplishment across the critical sectors of bioscience and life science technology, information technology and cybersecurity, and climate technology. At the same time, they share an unwavering commitment to applying science and technology to the most pressing challenges facing our nation and world.

“As we work to increase our capacity to empower and accelerate innovation in a rapidly changing world, our mission feels more urgent than ever, and we are energized by the addition of these new board members,” says Stephen Fantone, chair of the board of directors for the Hertz Foundation. “Not only do they represent a diversity of experience, disciplines, career stages and perspectives, but they each bring an enthusiasm for the mission of the foundation that is sure to ripple out into their own networks. I’m looking forward to working together to expand the impact and reach of the Hertz Foundation.”

The Hertz Fellowship is the signature program of the Hertz Foundation and is the most prestigious doctoral fellowship program of its kind. It is awarded to the nation’s most exceptional students in applied science, engineering and mathematics and provides the resources and lifelong network required to accelerate their careers and amplify their research for ultimate impact. All five new board members were beneficiaries of Hertz Fellowships themselves and bring a distinct view of the fellowship experience.

“From entrepreneurs to industry veterans, this highly accomplished group represents the range and caliber of talent that the Hertz Foundation seeks to identify and support,” says Robbee Baker Kosak, president of the Hertz Foundation. “And as Hertz Fellows themselves, they have the perspective and experience needed to accelerate the expansion of our nation’s pipeline of scientific and technological leadership.”

The Hertz Foundation board recently approved and published an ambitious strategic plan outlining immediate goals: Increase the number of fellows we support—up to 25 annually; deepen the lifelong experience of Hertz Fellows through enhanced mentorship, networking and professional development opportunities; enhance diverse pipelines to fuel innovation; and develop mutually beneficial partnerships with like-minded organizations in science, technology, national security and philanthropy, building upon inspiring work we have done with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other valued partners.

The new board members will play an instrumental role in activating this plan through oversight roles, identifying partnership connections with like-minded organizations in science, technology and philanthropy, and deepening engagement with the influential network of 1,280 Hertz Fellows. These fellows are responsible for some of the most significant progress of the past century, from the recent launch of the James Webb Space Telescope to the development of global defense networks and from advanced medical therapies to computational systems that billions of people use every day.

“These new board members provide a courtside view into the latest technological insights and innovations—the very things that will shape our collective future,” says Fantone.

The new board members begin their terms this month at the Hertz Foundation board of directors meeting in Seattle.

Cheri Ackerman is co-founder and CEO at Concerto Biosciences, which is working to reinvent how humans relate to microbes by designing products that re-create microbial capabilities to improve human health, enhance food quality and boost crop yields. Prior to founding Concerto Biosciences, Ackerman was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow with Professor Paul Blainey at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where she built technologies to partition, recombine, and sort small volumes of liquids and gels in order to make combinatorial experiments high-throughput. As a Hertz Fellow, Ackerman completed her doctorate in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. Learn more 

Steven Lipner is executive director at SAFECode, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing trust in information and communications technology through the advancement of effective software assurance methods. He is also co-chairing a DARPA-sponsored National Academies committee on improving the security assurance and nimbleness of large integrated software systems. With over 50 years’ experience as a general manager, engineering manager and researcher, Lipner is considered a pioneer in cybersecurity. As a Hertz Fellow, Lipner completed his doctorate in civil engineering at MIT. Read more

Max Mankin is co-founder and CTO at Modern Hydrogen, a clean energy company decarbonizing some of the most challenging sectors of industry—including gas utilities, process heat and steam users, heavy equipment and fleet operators, and building materials producers. In 2016, Mankin and Modern Hydrogen co-founder Tony Pan, also a Hertz Fellow, won the Hertz Foundation Strauss Award for their exceptional leadership in their entrepreneurial endeavors. Recently, he was selected for the prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30: Science for his leadership role in Modern Hydrogen. As a Hertz Fellow, Mankin completed his doctorate in chemistry at Harvard University. Learn more

Michael Schnall-Levin is CTO and founding scientist at 10x Genomics, a life science technology company building integrated solutions, including instruments, consumables and software, for single-cell and spatial biology.  In this role, he sets the company’s research and development strategy, leading multidisciplinary teams to deliver a rapid velocity of groundbreaking products to help customers master biology and advance human health. Before joining 10x Genomics, Michael was a NSF postdoctoral fellow with Eric Lander at the Broad Institute, where he worked on developing novel applications of DNA sequencing technologies. As a Hertz Fellow, Schnall-Levin completed his doctorate in mathematics at MIT. Learn more 

Alfred Spector is a visiting scholar at MIT and a senior advisor at Blackstone, helping companies navigate the complexity of data-driven decision-making and working to influence education. Previously, he served as CTO and head of engineering at Two Sigma Investments and, before that, as vice president of research and special initiatives at Google. Recently, he co-authored a textbook, “Data Science in Context: Foundations, Challenges, Opportunities.” As a Hertz Fellow, Spector completed his doctorate in computer science at Stanford University. Read More

About the Hertz Foundation

The Fannie and John Hertz Foundation identifies the nation’s most promising innovators in science and technology and empowers them to pursue solutions to our toughest challenges. Launched in 1963, the Hertz Fellowship is the most prestigious fellowship program in the U.S., fueling more than 1,280 leaders, disruptors and creators who apply their remarkable talents where they’re needed most — from our national security to the future of healthcare. Hertz Fellows hold over 3,000 patents, have founded more than 375 companies, and have received more than 200 major national and international awards, including two Nobel Prizes, 10 Breakthrough Prizes, the National Medal of Technology, the Fields Medal and the Turing Award. Additionally, 52 are members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and 37 are fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Learn more at