Modern Hydrogen CTO Max Mankin Elected to Hertz Foundation Board of Directors

March 8, 2024
Angela Reid
Pleasanton, CA

The Fannie and John Hertz Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering the nation’s most promising innovators in science and technology, today announced the election of Max Mankin to its board of directors.

Mankin is co-founder and chief technology officer at Modern Hydrogen, a clean energy company decarbonizing some of the most challenging sectors of industry—including gas utilities, process heat and steam users, heavy equipment and fleet operators, and building materials producers. In 2016, Mankin and Modern Hydrogen co-founder Tony Pan, also a Hertz Fellow, won the Hertz Foundation Strauss Award for their exceptional leadership in their entrepreneurial endeavors. Their partnership is a perfect example of the power of the Hertz community.

“Max possesses exceptional creativity and technical brilliance,” says Stephen Fantone, chair of the board of directors for the Hertz Foundation. “And he brings those to life with exceptional emotional intelligence. The board is certain to benefit from his ability to guide teams toward meaningful impact.”

As a Hertz Fellow himself, Mankin shares with the entire Hertz community an unwavering commitment to applying his talents to the most pressing challenges facing our nation and world. He also brings to the board his own distinct view of the fellowship experience and the capacity to advocate for the particular needs of Hertz Fellows.

Stephen Fantone

“Max possesses exceptional creativity and technical brilliance. The board is certain to benefit from his ability to guide teams toward meaningful impact.”

Stephen Fantone Arrow Right
1975 Hertz Fellow

President & Chief Executive Officer, Optikos Corporation

Robbee Baker Kosak

“Max inspires with his ability to creatively navigate challenges in his pursuit of solutions to one of the world’s greatest challenges yet.”

Robbee Baker Kosak Arrow Right

President, Hertz Foundation

The Hertz Fellowship—the most prestigious doctoral fellowship program of its kind—is awarded to the nation’s most exceptional students in applied science, engineering and mathematics, providing the resources and lifelong support to accelerate their careers and amplify their research for ultimate impact.

“Max inspires with his ability to creatively navigate challenges in his pursuit of solutions to one of the world’s greatest challenges yet,” says Robbee Baker Kosak, president of the Hertz Foundation. “I’m thrilled to have Max join the board, as we work together to amplify the foundation’s impact.”

Mankin will begin his board term this month, along with four other new board members: Cheri Ackerman, co-founder and CEO, Concerto Biosciences; Steven B. Lipner, executive director, SAFECode; Michael Schnall-Levin, CTO and founding scientist, 10x Genomics; and Alfred Spector, visiting scholar, MIT, and senior advisor, Blackstone.

Interview with Max Mankin

We sat down with Mankin to learn more about his work and what he hopes to contribute to the organization.

What are you working on right now that’s most exciting to you?

Mankin: We are decarbonizing natural gas at the point of use. We developed a process that yields two products: clean hydrogen fuel and solid carbon. That carbon, in a solid form that looks like black powdered sugar, is then sequestered in asphalt—and it actually enhances the quality of the asphalt, which is critical for industry adoption. We recently deployed two pilot systems, and the results are promising.

Why is joining the board important to you?

Mankin: The Hertz Foundation helped me in many ways. I’ve tapped into the Hertz community throughout my career for mentoring, brainstorming and networking. I co-founded Modern Hydrogen with Tony Pan, also a fellow. We’ve also brought several fellows onto our team, including Peter Scherpelz, who I regularly and sincerely introduce as a uniquely brilliant and fundamentally good human. On a more personal note, some of my best friends in the world are people I met through the Hertz network. Joining the board is one way for me to give back.

What unique insights or perspectives do you bring to the board?

Mankin: I believe my entrepreneurial perspective can enhance how the organization thinks about the future of science and technology. My work on decarbonization can help build momentum around clean energy and other climate solutions. As an early-career board member, I’m in a position to advocate for the needs of recent and in-school fellows.

Why is the Hertz Foundation important for the future of science and technology?

Mankin: The freedom to innovate is critical in allowing the most adventurous thinkers to pursue high-risk, high-reward ideas. Even more important, the Hertz community is convening these thinkers, helping early-career innovators to meet high-caliber peers and contextualize their ideas. This “one plus one equals three” effect is how we accelerate the advancement of science and technology.

What advice would you give to the newest class of Hertz Fellows?

Mankin: Lean into the community. Find people you can learn from, be vulnerable with and share experiences with. They’ll make your ideas—and possibly your whole life—better.

About the Hertz Foundation

The Fannie and John Hertz Foundation identifies the nation’s most promising innovators in science and technology and empowers them to pursue solutions to our toughest challenges. Launched in 1963, the Hertz Fellowship is the most prestigious fellowship program in the U.S., fueling 1,280 leaders, disruptors and creators who apply their remarkable talents where they’re needed most — from our national security to the future of healthcare. Hertz Fellows hold over 3,000 patents, have founded more than 375 companies, and have received more than 200 major national and international awards, including two Nobel Prizes, 10 Breakthrough Prizes, the National Medal of Technology, the Fields Medal and the Turing Award.  Additionally, 52 are members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and 37 are fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Learn more at