Keith Kawaoka, E.S.E. 1980, Deputy Director of Environmental Health, Hawaii

From chemical weapons disposal to the Zika virus, Kawaoka has taken on massive environmental issues. He’s also had a wildly diverse career. “I managed to work in environmental science all my career—except for the few times I was a rocket scientist.” Kawaoka isn’t joking. His ESE internship was with Aerospace Corporation—a military projects research center. In the 1970s, Kawaoka worked on renewable energy technologies. Then in the 1980s, he learned rocket science for the Strategic Defense Initiative, or “Star Wars.” Now in Hawaii, he’s deputy director of environmental health, working on legislation, dealing with new challenges, such as interacting with media. “A lot of times you get a few minutes or seconds before the camera starts whirling,” he says. “There’s never a dull moment.”