Max Mankin, PhD

2012 Hertz Fellow
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Max Mankin, Ph.D., is the co-founder and CTO of Modern Hydrogen, a clean energy company based in the Seattle area whose mission is to make energy cleaner and cheaper.

Max was lucky enough to have two parents who supported his early enthusiasm for science, technology and engineering: with books, with old computers from the town dump, with model rocket engines and with grocery store chemicals. They even managed to contain their anger when Max ruined their microwave by putting a CD in it and when he scarred the porch with his homemade Tesla coil.

In high school, chemistry appealed to Max because it explained natural phenomena like rusting fences, oil floating on water and full water bottles exploding in the freezer. Similarly, during his undergraduate career at Brown University, the appeal of linking fundamentals to observable characteristics of the real world drew him to physical chemistry. Max graduated from Brown in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, with honors, and his research there focused on optimizing the surface chemistry of catalysts for hydrogen fuel cells and various chemical processes.

As a Hertz Fellow, Max completed his doctorate at Harvard, with a focus on solar cells, photonics, materials and strain engineering and on energy system efficiency. He engineered materials with never-before-observed properties that led to new paradigms in microscale optical systems.

Following graduate school, Max joined the Invention Science Fund as an entrepreneur in residence. From there, he co-founded 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. At Modern Hydrogen, Max leads engineering, product development and manufacturing.

Max serves on the boards of two nonprofits, including the Hertz Foundation, and as an adviser to several other hard-tech and engineering companies.

Hertz Foundation Role

Board of Directors
Fellowships and Programs Council

Graduate Studies

Harvard University
Advances in Crystal Growth and Assembly for Imparting Novel Photonic Properties to Semiconductor Nanowires

Undergraduate Studies

Brown University


2017, Inc. Magazine Most Brilliant Entrepreneurs
2024, Puget Sound Business Journal Business Leaders Under 40
2016, Peter Strauss Award, Fannie & John Hertz Foundation
2016, Forbes “30 Under 30: Science”, Forbes

Related News

Mar 8, 2024
The Fannie and John Hertz Foundation today announced the election of five new members to its board of directors: Cheri Ackerman, Co-Founder and CEO, Concerto Biosciences; Steven Lipner, Executive Director, SAFECode; Max Mankin, Co-Founder and CTO, Modern Hydrogen; Michael Schnall-Levin, CTO and Founding Scientist, 10x Genomics; and Alfred Spector, Visiting Scholar, MIT, and Senior Advisor, Blackstone.
Mar 8, 2024
The Fannie and John Hertz Foundation announced the election of Max Mankin, co-founder and chief technology officer at Modern Hydrogen, to its Board of Directors.
Nov 21, 2023
As part of the Hertz Foundation’s 2023 Philanthropy Report, Board Chair Stephen Fantone and President Robbee Kosak share their aspirations for building on our 60–year legacy of impact and leadership in science and technology.
Nov 30, 2022
Hertz Fellow Nathan Myhrvold, visionary technology and business leader, reflects on the anonymous $5 million gift that will fund a Hertz Fellowship in his honor.
Dec 16, 2021
The Hertz Foundation's mentoring program brings mid-career and senior leaders in the sciences together with in-school Hertz Fellows for regular online conversations about careers.
Mar 7, 2017
Pan and Mankin’s Company, Modern Electron, Aims to Revolutionize Electric Power Generation
Jan 1, 2017
The founders of Modern Electron are on a mission to change how electricity is generated and distributed.
Feb 25, 2016
Taking a page from advances in semiconductor technology, Hertz Fellows Max Mankin and Tony Pan want to overturn more than a century of electricity generation via steam turbines using paper-thin, nano-engineered generators, enabling more efficient, cheaper, and more universally available power generation than ever possible before.