At 29, David Berry MD, a PhD, and now, title as Young Innovator of the Year in MIT’s Tech Review magazine.

So what makes Berry so hot? He’s the brains behind LS9, the California-based company working on "renewable petroleum."

Berry’s goal was nothing less than "to develop a novel and far-reaching solution to the energy problem." In col­laboration with genomics researcher George Church of Harvard Medi­cal School and plant biologist Chris Somerville of Stanford University, Berry and his Flagship colleagues set out to do something that had never been attempted commercially: using the tools of synthetic biology to make microörganisms that produce something like petroleum. Berry assumed responsibility for proving that the infant company, dubbed LS9, could produce a biofuel that was renewable, better than corn-derived ethanol, and cost-­competitive with ­fossil-based fuels.

I understand that Chris Somerville — a leading figure in the plant biology field — is also at work on plants that are genetically engineered to produce biodegradable plastics. Now if they could just integrate that idea with these petroleum-producing microbes, we’d really have something to celebrate.