A Billionaire's Bet: The Best & Brightest

Bonnie Lei

Bonnie Lei, a graduate of Harvard University, says she's always been "fascinated with how the natural world worked." As a high school freshman in the suburbs of L.A., Lei went knocking on the doors of the marine biology department at Cal Poly Pomona to see if any professors wanted an intern. Her perseverance paid off. A newly hired professor, one of the foremost sea slug experts in the world, took her on board.

By her junior year, Lei had identified a new species of sea slug (found in the Caribbean) and even got the chance to name it. Lei believes that the new species developed because the ocean currents of the Caribbean created a biodiversity hotspot, and her discovery caused her to think about the protection of those biodiverse areas. She says, "It made me interested in more than just working in a lab."

After graduating from Harvard, Lei received a Booth Fellowship to work for the Wildlife Conservation Society in Myanmar. Lei, the daughter of Chinese immigrant parents, applied for the Schwarzman Scholars program because China faces some of the world's biggest environmental problems and the program brings together "young people from all over the world who want to work on big ideas."

After graduating from the Schwarzman program, Lei will begin work in environmental strategy at Microsoft.

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