Pamela Samuelson; Boalt Hall School of Law
Pamela Samuelson is a genius. No, really. In 1997, the Internet guru and Boalt Hall School of Law professor was one of 23 winners of a $295,000 "genius grant" from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
This no-strings grant allows recipients to use the money as they like, whether it's to advance their expertise on a particular subject, delve into a new area of study, or change careers. Samuelson has so far opted to put much of that money back into research, hiring assistants to help with ongoing projects.
While the award certainly garnered her attention, it didn't take a genius grant to establish Samuelson's place among the nation's top academics in intellectual property law.
...and she's a joint professor at SIMS, which is my school, and thus I get to take her Intellectual Property class, which is half the reason I wanted to go to Cal in the first place!