2022 Breakthrough Senior Fellows Announced

Five Leading Experts Join Breakthrough

The Breakthrough Institute’s work would not exist without the contribution of the many path-breaking thinkers with whom we have interacted and collaborated over the years.

Breakthrough’s Senior Fellow program was created in recognition of this debt. Our Senior Fellows are our intellectual mentors, colleagues, and fellow travelers. This year, we are proud to announce the individuals joining their ranks: Omar Wasow, Ryan Phelan, Sandeep Pai, Judge Glock, and Alan Levinovitz.

The collective expertise of our newest Senior Fellows covers a remarkably wide range of topics integral to the ecomodern vision.

We are grateful to these individuals and hope their work continues to help pave the way towards a bright future for humans and nature.

Omar Wasow

Omar Wasow is an Assistant Professor in Princeton’s Department of Politics. His research focuses on race, politics, and statistical methods. His paper on the political consequences of the 1960s civil rights movement was published in the American Political Science Review. His co-authored work on estimating causal effects of race was published in the Annual Review of Political Science.

Before joining the academy, Omar was the co-founder of BlackPlanet.com. Under his leadership, BlackPlanet.com became the leading site for African Americans, reaching over three million active users a month. Omar also worked to demystify technology issues through regular TV and radio segments on programs like NBC’s Today Show, CNN’s American Morning, and public radio’s Tavis Smiley show. Similarly, Omar tutored Oprah Winfrey in her first exploration of the Net in the 12-part series ‘Oprah Goes Online’.

In 1999, as a result of his active participation in a number of social issues, particularly the charter school movement, Omar was selected to be a fellow in the Rockefeller Foundation’s Next Generation Leadership program. In fall 2003, Omar helped co-found a K-8 charter school in his hometown of Brooklyn.

In 2007, in recognition of the promise of his academic research, the National Science Foundation selected him for a Graduate Research Fellowship. Most recently, the Aspen Institute selected him for the Henry Crown Fellowship. He received a Ph.D. in African American studies, an MA in Government, and an MA in Statistics from Harvard University. He received his BA from Stanford University.

Ryan Phelan

Ryan Phelan is Co-founder and Executive Director of Revive & Restore, a California-based nonprofit with a mission to enhance biodiversity through the genetic rescue of endangered and extinct species. Thanks to the rapid advance of genomic technology, new tools are emerging for conservation. Endangered species that have lost their crucial genetic diversity may be restored to reproductive health. Those threatened by invasive diseases may be able to acquire genetic disease resistance. It may even be possible to bring some extinct species back to life.

Revive & Restore works with some of the world’s leading molecular biologists, conservation biologists, and conservation organizations to develop pioneering, proof-of-concept genetic rescue projects using cutting-edge genomic technologies to solve previously intractable wildlife conservation challenges such as those posed by inbreeding, exotic diseases, climate change, and destructive invasive species.

Ryan is a serial entrepreneur active in both the for-profit and non-profit worlds. She was the founder and CEO of two innovative healthcare companies: DNA Direct, the first medical genetics company to focus on bringing personalized medicine to the consumer, and Direct Medical Knowledge, a consumer health website unique for its content depth and innovative search interface.

She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Personal Genome Project, which aims to sequence and publicize the complete genomes and medical records of 100,000 volunteers in order to enable research into personalized medicine.

Sandeep Pai

Dr. Sandeep Pai is senior research lead with the Energy Security and Climate Change program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). At CSIS, his work focuses on coal phase-out and just transitions.

Overall, Sandeep’s expertise spans the political economy of energy transitions, coal sector dynamics, energy access, and just transitions. Previously, Sandeep worked as an investigative journalist with leading Indian newspapers such as the Hindustan Times, writing on rural development, energy transition, and political corruption in India and South Asia. In 2016, he was awarded India’s most prestigious journalism award, the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism award, for his series of stories on corruption in state-owned enterprises.

Sandeep has also worked as a consultant for international organizations such as the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Black Sea Commission. In 2018, he published his first book on global energy transitions, titled Total Transition: The Human Side of the Renewable Energy Revolution. Sandeep’s views often appear in media outlets such as The Guardian, Times of India, CNN, and elsewhere. Sandeep is also the co-host of The India Energy Hour podcast, which hosts informed discussions about the country's energy transition and climate mitigation efforts.

He holds a Ph.D. in resources, environment, and sustainability from the University of British Columbia. He also holds a joint MSc degree in environmental sciences, policy, and management from Lund University, Central European University, and the University of the Aegean, as well as a BTech in computer science and engineering from Cochin University of Science and Technology.

Judge Glock

Judge Glock is the senior director of policy and research at the Cicero Institute, a nonpartisan think tank based in Austin, Texas. He was formerly a visiting professor of economics at West Virginia University. He writes about local government, housing, finance, and transportation, with a perspective informed by his work in economic history.

Glock's work has been featured in National Affairs, Tax Notes, the Journal of American History, NPR, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal, among other places. He is the author of the book The Dead Pledge: The Origins of the Mortgage Market and Federal Bailouts, 1913-1939, published in 2021 by Columbia University Press. He received his Ph.D. in history with a focus on economic history from Rutgers University.

Alan Levinovitz

Dr. Alan Levinovitz is an Associate Professor of Religion at James Madison University. He works at the intersection of philosophy, religion, and science, focusing especially on how narratives and metaphors shape belief. He is the author of The Gluten Lie and, most recently, Natural, which explores the danger of turning Nature into God. In addition to scholarly journals, his writing has appeared in Aeon, the Atlantic, Slate, the Washington Post, Wired, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere.