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18. Bridgette Shannon

When Bridgette Shannon was in high school, upperclassmen advised her, "Whatever you do, don't take chemistry." She ignored them. "It was a breeze—mixing things together, creating different compounds," she says. In Corning's environmental-technologies division, she helped develop a honeycomb material that nests in a car's catalytic converter; the honeycomb is coated with a thin layer of precious metal that neutralizes toxic exhaust compounds. "Every time I see a vehicle," she says, "I'm looking at the pipes and seeing what's coming out."


Is there an object in your life that helps connect you with being creative?

A paperclip. I take the paperclip, unfold it, twirl it around. I don't even realize I'm doing it half the time.


Twitter: @1chemreaction