Queen of the Smart Set

Shayla Rivera. Image credit: Texas A&M Engineering

Future-ish is pleased to announce our latest multigeek monarch: Aerospace Engineer, comedian, STEM/STEAM advocate, and SO MUCH MORE, Shayla Rivera.

22nd Century Role Models
Here at Future-ish, we love highlighting individuals that are passionate about the science, design, and culture shaping our future. We have collected many such individuals and showcase this posse of polygeeks in our sidebar feature, The Smart Set, as Scelebs, Design Idols, and Culture Icons.

In 2011, self-proclaimed history and science geek Alyssa Campanella was crowned Miss USA and we were so inspired that we 'joined the procession' of well wishers and congratulations by having a little fun and naming her our first ever 'Queen of the Smart Set'. With Campanella talking about the future of NASA, fashion and cooking, and her favorite history and culture books, we realized that a whole new generation of young people, especially young woemen, were being inspired to learn more about the science, design, and culture shaping the future.

Our Queen of the Smart Set accolade was so popular that we decided to continue naming a Queen of the Smart Set each year in February. What makes the Queen of the Smart Set honorees so special is that they are individuals that have accrued outstanding achievements in all three future-shaping spheres of science, design, and culture. They are true inspirations to us all, but they are particularly important and valuable role models for young people.

We humbly offer a string of virtual bows and curtsies in congratulations to our growing list of regal geeks and smart sovereigns.

Queen of the Smart Set 2019 - Shayla Rivera
Queen of the Smart Set 2018 - Natalie Portman
Queen of the Smart Set 2017 - Emily Calandrelli
Queen of the Smart Set 2016 - Danica McKellar
Queen of the Smart Set 2015 - George Takai
Queen of the Smart Set 2014 - Ellen DeGeneres
Queen of the Smart Set 2013 - Loni Love
Queen of the Smart Set 2012 - Mayim Bialik
Queen of the Smart Set 2011 - Alyssa Campanella

Sceleb | Shayla Rivera

Shayla Rivera promo pic for HBO Latino's "Entre Nos".
Image credit: HBO Latino

Shayla Rivera is a Puerto Rican American aerospace engineer, comedian, and STEM advocate. Rivera also wears many other hats including keynote speaker, Professor of Practice at Texas A&M, and producer. Often described as a renaissance woman, she uses humor to share her own story, as well as to inspire others.

Rivera was born and grew up in Puerto Rico. Her interest in science and engineering started at an early age, along with a keen interest in human behavior. Rivera earned a BS in Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M where she also took additional courses in psychology. After graduation, Rivera worked for McDonnell Douglas Space Systems as a rocket scientist, literally, in programs including the NASA Space Shuttle and International Space Station. She left NASA after five years to pursue her interest in psychology that eventually led her to corporate training, executive seminars, and motivational speaking. It was in this role that she also discovered her talent for comedy.

She worked with Debbie Allen to create the hit one woman show “Rocket Science and Salsa,” and was honored with a "Best Lead Actress" nomination by the NAACP Theater Awards. For the same production, Allen also received a nomination for "Best Choreography". She went on to participated in many other comedy events, shows, and series and was honored by Latin 2015 as the Finniest Latina Comedian.

Rivera received the Award for Excellence in Public Speaking by the Latino Speakers Bureau in 2010, LA's “Mario Moreno Cantinflas Award” in 2014, and the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the President’s Council on Service Participation in 2017.

Rivera was named the Future-ish 2019 Queen of the Smart Set.

Citizens of the Next Century List

2018 Citizens of the Next Century List addition, Lucy Liu. Image credit: Genevieve719 via Flickr, cropped and used under CC 2.0.

See also: Miss Next Century | Next Century Citizenship | PISA List | Queen of The Smart Set

Launched in 2010, our Citizens of the Next Century List recognizes individuals that we feel are way ahead of their time. Our Next Century Citizens are people that are passionate about the science, design, and culture shaping our future and that are actively working to create a better future today, an inclusive future that improves the quality of life for everyone.

We add new individuals to the list each December. Our hope in establishing the Citizens of the Next Century List is that it will inspire everyone, from movies stars and mechanics to ministers and the soccer Mom next door, to become more interested, literate, and involved in the science, design, and culture shaping our future. The year in which each individual was added is provided in parentheses. Think we've missed someone? Let us know by sending an email to StudioF/at/future-ish/dot/com.

2018 Additions

Louis Gong | Artist, Educator
Maja Hoffman | Art Collector & Patron
Lucy Liu | Actor, Artist
Jason Momoa | Actor, Director, Producer, Writer
Adam Rutherford | Science Communicator
Michelle Simmons | Quantum Physicist

Full Citizens of the Next Century List

Constance Adams | Space Architect (2011)
Alejandro Acevedo-Gutiérrez | Marine Biologist (2012)
Claudia Aguirre | Neuroscientist (2014)
Qanta Ahmed | Sleep Researcher, Physician (2012)
Stephon Alexander | theoretical physicist (2011)
Taiaiake Alfred | Professor (2011)
Pradiip Alvarez | Social Entrepreneur (2016)
Haunani Apoliona | Elder, Musician, Activist (2011)
Pablo Arias | Scientist, Illustrator (2012)
Rachel Armstrong | Architect, Materials Scientist (2014)

Anne Balsamo | Technology & Culture Researcher (2012)
Napua Barrows | Teacher & Limu (seaweed) Expert (2014)
Janine Benyus | Educator, Environmentalist (2011)
Debbie Berebichez | Physicit, Financial Analyst (2011)
Mayim Bialik | Actor, Neuroscientist (2011)
LeManuel Bitsóí | Genetics Researcher, Consultant (2012)
Bjork | Musician (2011)
Adrienne Block | Geologist (2011)
Liz Bonnin | Biochemist (2013)
Bono | Musician, Humanitarian (2011)
Alexandrea Bowman | Geologist (2011)
Cynthia Breazeal | Robotics Designer (2011)
Rovenia Brock | Nutritionist (2013)
Mia Brownell | Painter, Instructor (2012)
Dragos Bucurenci | Environmentalist & Journalist (2014)
Raychelle Burks | Chemist, Lecturer (2012)

Gregory Cajete | Education Researcher (2012)
Emily Calandrelli | Science Communicator (2017)
Alyssa Campanella | Model, Actress, Miss USA 2011 (2012)
Anthony Carrino | Designer & TV Personality (2014)
Majora Carter | Urban Revitalization Specialist (2016)
Charles, Prince of Whales | Monarch & Humanitarian (2012)
Melanie Cheung | Neuroscientist (2011)
Nicholas Christakis (2014)
Katrina Claw | Genome Scientist (2017)
David Close | Fisheries Biologist (2016)
Hunter Cole | Artist, Geneticist (20121)
Kara Cooney | Egyptologist (2011)
Phillippe Cousteau | Explorer, Advocate (2011)

Cathy Davidson | Digital Innovation Researcher (2012)
Joe Davis | Molecular Biologist, Artist (2012)
Rana Dajani | Molecular Biologist, Reading Advocate (2012)
Lali DeRosier | Biologist, Teacher
Crystal Dilworth | Science Communicator (2014)
Tiffany Dufu | Social Entrepreneur (2013)

Abigail Echo-Hawk | Native Health Researcher (2012)
Hasan Elahi | Multimedia Artist (2011)
Ayana Elizabeth | Marine Biologist (2011)
Diana Eng | Fashion Designer
Manalani English | Radiation Technologist (2014)

Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad | Industrial Designer (2013)
Mónica Feliú-Mójer | Science Communicator (2014)
Andre Fenton | Neurobiologist (2011)
Javier Fernández-Han | Inventor (2014)
Ernesto Fernandez Polcuch | Science Diplomat (2016)
Sia Figiel | Poet, Writer, Painter, Diabetes Activist (2012)
Xyla Foxlin | Mechanical Engineer & Artist (2017)
John Francis | Conservationist, Activist (2011)
Alexander Fry | Astronomer (2012)

Vanessa Galaviz | Environmental Health Scientist (2014)
Samantha Garvey | Optometric Technician (2013)
Jim Gates | Theoretical Physicist (2012)
Louis Gong | Artist, Educator (2018)
Temple Grandin | Animal Scientist, Autism Advocate (2012)
Brian Greene | Theoretical Physicist
Dina Griffin | Architect (2013)
Marga Gual Soler | Science Ambassador (2014)

Andrea Hadjikyriacou | Molecular Biologist (2016)
Salman Hameed | Astronomer & Social Scientist (2014)
Samuel Hammer | Lichen Scientists, Artist (2012)
Martin Hanczyc | Chemical Physicist (2014)
André Heinz | Sustainability Advocate (2011)
John Herrington | Chickasaw Astronaut (2012)
Maria Hinojosa | Journalist & News Producer (2014)
Maja Hoffman | Art Collector & Patron (2018)
Walter Hood | Landscape Architect (2014)
Matthew Hubble | Fashion Designer (2016)
Jørn Hurum | Paleontologist (2011)
Rau Hoskins | Architect (2016)
Matthew Hubble | Fashion Designer (2016)

Bruce Jackson | DNA Scientist, Scuba Enthusiast (2012)
Erich Jarvis | Neurobiologist (2014)
Mae Jemison | Astronaut (2012)

Keawe’aimoku Kaholokula | Health Researcher (2012)
Paula Kahumbu | Wildlife Conservationist (2011)
Michio Kaku | Theoretical Physicist, TV Host (2011)
Kakani Katija | Bioengineer (2011)
Adrienne Keene | Native Education Researcher (2012)
Andrea Kerzner | Asset Manager, Humanitarian (2014)
Sasha Kramer | Ecologist, Humanitarian (2012)

Danielle N. Lee | Biologist, Hip Hop Mavin (2012)
Judy Lee | Product Designer (2012)
Manuel Lima | Interactive Designer (2011)
Lucy Liu | Actor, Artist (2018)
Loni Love | Comedian (2013)
Oren Lyons | Faithkeeper, Scholar, Elder (2011)
Kellan Lutz | Actor (2011)
Robert Lynch | Anthropologist, Comedian (2012)

Juan Martinez | Environmentalist (2011)
Sam McCracken | Social Entrepreneur (2016)
Susmita Mohanty | Designer, Space Entrepreneur (2014)
Angela Merkel | Chancellor of Germany, Chemist (2011)
Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) | DJ, Artist, Musician (2012)
Isaac Mizrahi | Fashion Designer, TV Host (2012)
Jason Momoa | Actor, Director, Producer, Writer (2018)
Alicia Mosley Austin | Neuroscientist (2015)
Nathan Myhrvold | Inventor, Chef (2016)

Eliott Nahman | Architect & Information Scientist (2014)
Diane Nalini de Kerchkov | Physicist & Jazz Singer (2014)
Wallace Nichols | Marine Biologist and Activist (2012)

Summer Rayne Oakes | Model, Activist, TV host (2011)
Michelle Obama | US First Lady (2012)
Christina Ochoa | Actor & Science Communicator (2016)
Aaron O'Connell | Physicist (2012)
Fiorenzo Omenetto | Biophotonics Scientist (2012)
Neri Oxman | Designer, Material Ecologist (2011)
Feryal Özel | Astrophysicist (2012)

Brad Paisley | Musician (2012)
Nova Peris | Olympic Medialist (2013)
Mario Pinto | Chemical Biologist (2012)

Lisa Randall | Theoretical Physicist (2011)
Rania Al Abdullah | Queen of Jordan, Humanitarian (2014)
Isha Renta | Meteorologist (2013)
Howard Rheingold | Teacher & Digital Media Expert (2014)
Paul Rucker | Musician, Composer, Artist (2014)
David de Rothschild | Explorer, Environmentalist (2011)
Georg Russegger | Communications Researcher (2012)
Cameron Russell | Model (2013)
Adam Rutherford | Science Communicator (2018)

Pardis Sabeti | Computational Geneticist (2014)
Omowunmi Sadik | Chemist & Inventor (2016)
Carl Schoonover | Neuroscientist (2012)
Barton Seaver | Chef (2011)
Çağan Hakkı Şekercioğlu | Ornithologist, Ecologist (2011)
Antonio Serrano | Biochemist (2014)
Lara Setrakian | Journalist (2016)
Sabine Seymour | Fashion Technologist (2012)
Noel Sharkey | Professor of AI and Robotics (2016)
Vandana Shiva | Physicist, Environmentalist (2011)
Cameron Sinclair | Architect, Humanitarian (2011)
Hayat Sindi | Science Entrepreneur (2011)
Michelle Simmons | Quantum Physicist (2018)
Christian Siriano | Fashion Designer (2017)
Igor Stagljar | Biochemist & Molecular Geneticist (2014)
David Suzuki | Zoologist, Environmentalist (2011)

Nina Tanden | Biomedical Engineer (2012)
Vienna Teng | Musician, Computer Scientist (2012)
Iva Tolić-Nørrelykke | Biophysicist (2014)
Haunani Kay Trask | Professor & Activist (2011)
Neil de Grasse Tyson | Astrophysicist (2011)

Tawan Udtamadilok | Ergonomist (2013)

Mana Vautier | Aerospace Engineer (2017)
Aris Venetikidis | Graphic Designer (2014)

Will.I.Am | Musician (2011)
Pharrell Williams | Musician, Designer (2014)
Sunita Williams | Astronaut (2014)
Caleph B. Wilson | Immunologist (2014)
E. O. Wilson | Naturalist (2011)
Nathan Wolfe | Virologist (2011)

Siyabulela Xuza | Engineer (2017)

Tom Yang | Food Scientist (2012)
Olya Yarychkivska | PhD Student in Genetics (2014)
Corrinne Yu | Computer Programmer (2011)
Kongjian Yu | Landscape Architect (2012)

Next Century Citizens in History
Constance Adams | Space Architect (2011)
Claudia Alexander (2013)
Wangari Maathai | Environmentalist (2011)

The Future-ish PISA List

2018 PISA List addition, Deb Haaland.

PISA is a short but meaningful acronym associated with one of our most important and respected endeavors here at Future-ish, The Future-ish Public Intellectual Service & Advocacy (PISA) List. Some people say that public intellectuals have all but disappeared from our modern society. We strongly disagree. The Future-ish PISA List is a growing collection of people from around the world that we feel embody what it means to be a public intellectual.

Public intellectuals are individuals with extensive training and expertise in a particular discipline that speak or write publicly about their discipline to an audience outside their own field or industry. More importantly, they endeavor to relate their work to the larger social, economic, and political world around it. Albert Einstein, for example, was often asked to comment on art, politics, and religion in addition to his own work in physics. Public intellectuals are rigorous thinkers that offer their own ideas and opinions while still respecting the ideas and opinions of others. On rare occasions, public intellectuals are elected and/or are appointed to public office; Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, is such an example.

In establishing the Future-ish PISA List, we hope to inform and inspire many generations of scientists, designers, and cultural leaders to follow in Einstein's and Merkel's footsteps and become more involved in public service and advocacy, from participating in civic panels and writing editorials to serving as subject matter experts in the media and running for public office.

We update the PISA List each December. If you have suggestions for additions to the list, please send them to us at StudioF/at/future-ish/dot/com.

Individuals with an asterisk (*) have been elected or appointed to public office. Years in parentheses indicate year added to the list.

2018 additions to the PISA List
Charles Bolden
Anthony Bourdain
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Sylvia Earle
Nina Garcia
Deb Haaland

Full list as of December 2016
Qanta Ahmed (2012)
Maya Angelou (2007)
S. Haunani Apoliona (2012)
Rachel Armstrong (2015)
Janine Benyus (2010)
Charles Bolden (2018)
Sass Brown (2016)
Majora Carter (2014)
Noam Chomsky (2007)
Yvon Chouinard (2011)
Stephen Chu* (2011)
Ta-Nehisi Coates (2018)
Jared Diamond (2017)
Esther Duflo (2015)
Michael Eric Dyson (2015)
Sylvia Earle (2018)
James H. Fowler (2013)
Harold Frazier (2017)
Tulsi Gabbard (2016)
Nina Garcia (2018)
Neil Gershenfeld (2017)
Jane Goodall (2007)
Janet Gray (2011)
Timothy Gunn (2016)
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama (2012)
Deb Haaland* (2018)
Stephen Hawking (2016)
Segenet Kelemu (2014)
Katherine Hamnett (2008)
James Hansen* (2011)
Tyrone Hayes (2008)
Bruce Jackson (2012)
Shirley Ann Jackson (2017)
Áile Jávo (2014)
Michio Kaku (2008)
Zafra M. Lerman (2016)
Maya Lin (2017)
Jane Lubchenko* (2010)
Oren Lyons* (2010)
Angela Merkel* (2008)
Akira Miyawaki (2014)
Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) (2011)
Feryal Özel (2013)
Pope Francis (2012)
Lisa Randall (2009)
Yvette Roubideaux* (2013)
Bobby Sanabria (2009)
Martha Schwartz (2012)
Noel Sharkey (2014)
Vandana Shiva (2009)
Amanda Simpson (2015)
Brian Sims (2016)
Cameron Sinclair (2010)
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf* (2011)
Adam Stelzner (2012)
David Suzuki (2010)
Richard Swett* (2009)
Jason deCaires Taylor (2014)
David Tartakover (2012)
Tony Turner (2015)
Neil deGrasse Tyson (2007)
Ai Weiwei (2015)
Vivienne Westwood (2013)
Patricia Williams (2017)

Public Intellectuals in History
Anthony Bourdain (2018)
Elouise Cobbell* (2011)
Zaha Hadid (2011)
Wangari Maathai* (2010)