When I think about role models, it takes a while before anything shows up in my head. What is a role model? Someone I have looked up to and wanted to be like, I guess.
The funny thing is that the first role models that show up in my head are all fictive people. It's Modesty Blaise (because she had such varied experience, first hand knowledge of extremely different environments and the wonderful skill to get along with people of all kinds -- presidents and kings as well as street kids and poor fishermen), it's Kip from Have Space Suit, Will Travel (because he got somewhere by being smart and knowing things), it's ... from A Very Long Way From Anywhere Else (because he was intellectual and did not really fit in with his peers, but found a way to be himself), and others. It was fictional characters I looked to when I shaped my ideas of who I wanted to be: smart, reasonable, open to new things, and so on. I might not live up to all of my ideals, but they are still there.
As for real people, I tend to admire everyone who is enthusiastic and really involved in things. People who make things happen.
There are also all of those people who have surprised me, and showed me new ways and attitudes. Like two of my fellow PhD students in Uppsala, who one day told me that it happens that they feel really tired and frustrated over their research -- that it sometimes seems hopeless -- and that they would then just lock the door to their office and cry for a while. Just the idea that there were others who sometimes felt like that was a revelation for me -- and the idea that you could actually talk about it was nothing short of revolutionary. I had always felt that if you could not be enthusiastic about your research all the time, you were somehow not worthy. Being frustrated and bored to the point of crying was to me a shameful secret. Maybe, just maybe, this was something that happened to others too? Even smart, successful students!
And then you go on, and another day you will be enthusiastic again, and make things happen.