26 of 50
Smartest Academic: Danah Boyd
Social Media Researcher, Microsoft Research

When Danah Boyd gave the opening remarks at this year's influential SXSW Interactive Festival, her thoughts on privacy were e-mailed, blogged, and tweeted by and to tech influencers. Boyd, a fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center and a social scientist at Microsoft Research, might be a 32-yearold academic, but when she speaks the whole tech world -- from CEOs to engineers -- takes notice.

Boyd conducts research on social media, and the self-identified geek has made a career of questioning the status quo. She's not afraid to ruffle some feathers in the process. "When I hit raw nerves, I know I need to actually go deeper," she says. Her SXSW address took on two of the Internet's giants, Google and Facebook, accusing the companies of failing to understand consumers' privacy concerns.

She is the reigning expert on how young people use the Internet, and she's writing a book on the subject. Boyd's research is the real deal, a potent blend of theory and ethnographic data. And she has real tech street cred too, courtesy of a degree in computer science from Brown. --B. K.

NEXT: Academic runner-up: Joseph Hellerstein
Last updated July 09 2010: 1:19 PM ET
More Galleries
10 things I learned at the New York auto show Auto shows these days are about as relevant as a dashboard cigarette lighter. But a careful observer can still pick up a thing or two. More
50 years of the Ford Mustang Take a drive down memory lane with our favorite photos of the car through the years. More
8 CEOs who took a pay cut in 2013 Median CEO pay inched up 9% in 2013 to $13.9 million. But not everyone got a bump last year. Here are eight CEOs who missed out. More
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.