Ten people who mattered this year:
Essam Sharaf: Science revolutionary
As academics joined the millions protesting in Egypt's streets this spring, the voice of one engineer soon began leading chants. Essam Sharaf was in the thick of demonstrations in January, and he became the first prime minister of a post-revolution cabinet in March — promoting science as a solution to the country's woes. But by November, he had resigned amid a second surge of popular protest. The 59-year-old Sharaf was born in Egypt and earned degrees in engineering from Cairo University and Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. By 2010, he was an academic engineer at Cairo University and a fierce critic of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's regime. Sharaf's stance during the uprising made him popular with the young revolutionaries. He was high on their list of candidates to lead the new transition government, along with Nobel laureate Ahmed Zewail, a chemist from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. When Sharaf was chosen, hundreds of thousands of revolutionaries gathered to greet him in Tahrir Square. “If I can't bring the change you want, then I will return to the lines with you,” he told them.