I would divide my physics development into two stages, one in which I was studying general frameworks like quantum theory, and another in which I was interested in the details of particle physics. As discussed here, it was Marni Sheppeard who really set me on the second road, when she exhibited her decomposition of the CKM matrix in terms of circulants, and I wondered if this could be obtained from F-theory. But it was Alejandro Rivero who ended up being my biggest stimulus in that way - trying to implement his ideas and constructions led me to learn a lot of orthodox theoretical physics.
Two weeks after Carl Brannen returned to vixra, Sheppeard has come out with her first phenomenology paper in years. My thoughts: I disagree with most of the details, but the spirit of it is something to emulate.
Meanwhile, Rivero's constructions have reached the point where they all but single out specific string vacua for investigation. For me, the most valuable ideas are still some of the earlier versions, but it's impressive that he has come this far.