We strive to help cultivate a new and diverse generation of inventors and increase global understanding of the role of invention in creating new products and building new businesses, and the importance of inventors and invention education in building economies and fostering innovation.
Meet the Invention Ambassadors
We are proud to introduce our inaugural class of AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassadors. Learn more about them below and follow their journey!
Videos and Photo Gallery of the Invention Ambassadors from the July 1, 2014 "Celebrate Invention" event is now available under the MEDIA page!
- Pioneer in Breast Tissue Engineering
- Newly appointed Vice President for Research & Professor of Chemical Engineering, Kansas State University
- Invention featured in the Avon Foundation for Women, NIH-Center for Advancing Innovation Breast Cancer Start-Up Challenge
Karen J.L. Burg, Director, Institute for Biological Interfaces of Engineering; Hunter Endowed Chair & Professor of Bioengineering, Clemson University…and newly appointed Vice President for Research & Professor of Chemical Engineering, Kansas State University. A graduate of North Carolina State University (B.S., Chemical Engineering) and Clemson University (M.S., Ph.D., Bioengineering), Karen completed a tissue engineering postdoctoral fellowship at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, before joining the faculty at Clemson University. Her research program has evolved from tissue engineering for regenerative medicine application to the development of bench-top engineered tissue systems and diagnostics. Following completion of an American Council of Education fellowship at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and the Georgia Institute of Technology, she was appointed Interim Vice Provost at Clemson University and Director of the Institute for Biological Interfaces of Engineering. Karen will be joining Kansas State University in August 2014 as Vice President for Research and Professor of Chemical Engineering. Honors to Karen include a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the inaugural Swiss AO Research Prize, recognition as a Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s TR100 Young Innovator, an American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering Fellow, an American Council on Education Fellow, and a US Department of Defense (DoD) Era of Hope Scholar. Karen has given over 200 invited presentations and authored over 140 peer reviewed publications on the subject of engineered tissues. Technologies from her team’s research serve as the basis for one spin-off company; a Burg invention is one of ten technologies featured in the ongoing Avon Foundation for Women - National Institutes of Health - Center for Advancing Innovation Breast Cancer Start-Up Challenge. Karen has served on eight United States National Science Foundation (NSF) biomaterials-focused Engineering Research Center site visit teams and serves as reviewer for multiple national and international funding organizations, including the US NSF, the National Institutes of Health, the US DoD, the Swiss AO Foundation, the Swiss NSF, the Israel Science Foundation, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
Karen's Ambassador Talks
- Kansas State University R&D 100 Awards, Panel Discussion, November 2014
- Georgia Tech's BioMaterials Day, sponsored by the Society for BioMaterials, Design and Clinical Translation of Biomaterials for Tissue Repair, October 2014
- Leading expert in the development of assistive technology for people with disabilities
- Instrumental in wheelchair design functions such as "square cross section x-brace" and Pushrim-Activated-Power-Assist-Wheelchair
- Honored by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, U.S. Army War College, and the International Paralympic Committee, amongst many others
Dr. Rory Cooper is the FISA/PVA Endowed Chair and a Distinguished Professor of the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh. He is also the Center Director at the Center of Excellence for Wheelchair and Related Technology, VA Rehabilitation Research & Development Center, and a Senior Research Career Scientist at the VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Service, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition, Dr. Cooper holds a secondary appointment at Pitt as Professor in both the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering. Dr. Cooper is also a Professor in the Robotics Institute, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University.
Dr. Cooper attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (Signals and Systems) and his Master of Engineering in Electrical Engineering (Computer Control Systems). From there he went to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical and Computer Engineering (Biomedical Engineering and Signals and Systems). He did his post graduate fellowship at VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Center at the Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Affairs Hospital in Hines, IL, where his discipline was Rehabilitation Engineering and Science.
Dr. Cooper works in collaboration with several organizations, such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society North America, and the American Congress of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Cooper holds 8 patents and is the author/editor of 10 books, 30 book chapters, and over 600 journal publications, editorials and letters, and peer-reviewed abstracts and proceedings publications. He is a Founding Editor of the Assistive Technology Research Book series. He serves as an editorial board member for American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Assistive Technology, Journal of Spinal Cord Injury Medicine, and Medical Engineering and Physics.
Dr. Cooper has received numerous honors for his work, including the Paralympic Sports Science Award from International Paralympic Committee, Secretaries Award for Diversity and Inclusion from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Outstanding Civilian Service Medal from the U.S. Army War College, Mentor Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Power of Work Award from Goodwill Industries of Western Pennsylvania, the da Vinci Lifetime Achievement Award from the National MS Society - Michigan Chapter, and the Certificate of Appreciation from the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development - National Institutes of Health, amongst many others.
Rory's Ambassador Talks
- Co-Founder and CEO of Promethean Power Systems
- Invented a Thermal Energy Storage System Used in a Milk Chilling Application
Sorin Grama is co-founder and CEO of Promethean Power Systems, a clean-energy start-up with offices in the US and India.
Sorin is the principal inventor of a thermal energy storage system used in refrigeration applications. Its first commercial application is for chilling milk in rural India where frequent power outages require back-up diesel generators. Sorin’s thermal energy battery eliminates the diesel generator while preventing milk spoilage. In India, more than $10 billion worth of fresh produce and dairy goes to waste due to the lack of refrigeration and poor grid infrastructure. To date, Promethean has installed over 50 commercial milk chilling systems with a total energy storage capacity of over 1.5 MWh. Sorin developed the technology with funds from the National Science Foundation and is applying it for refrigeration applications in the US.
Prior to launching Promethean, Sorin was part-owner of a systems integration business in California, managed regional sales for National Instruments and was the lead author of two landmark reports on solar industry dynamics published by Greentech Media. In 2010 Sorin’s company co-founded Greentown Labs, a Boston incubator, to help start-up companies share prototyping space, tools and talent. Greentown Labs now houses over 50 cleantech start-ups at its new offices in Somerville, MA.
Sorin holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Ohio State University and an MS in Engineering and Management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sorin lives and works in India where he leads Promethean’s efforts to manufacture & commercialize the milk chilling systems for a world-wide market. He is originally from Romania.
Sorin's Ambassador Talks
- Founder and President of the National Academy of Inventors
- Sr. Vice President for Research and Innovation, University of South Florida
- Inventor of approximately 100 Health-related Patents
Paul R. Sanberg, Ph.D., D.Sc. is founder and president of the National Academy of Inventors. He is Senior Vice President for Research & Innovation, Distinguished University Professor, and Executive Director of the Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair at the University of South Florida, and founder and president of the National Academy of Inventors. He trained at York University, the University of British Columbia, the Australian National University and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, among others. He has held academic positions at Ohio University, the University of Cincinnati, and Brown University. He is an inventor on approximately 100 health-related patents. His work has been instrumental in translating new pharmaceutical and cellular therapeutics to clinical trials and commercialization for Tourette syndrome, stroke, ALS, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and Parkinson's disease and he has significant biotech and pharmaceutical industry experience in these areas. He is the co-founder of Saneron CCEL Therapeutics, Inc. and Natura Therapeutics, in Tampa, and Stem Cells, Inc., in Palo Alto, California. He is the author of more than 600 scientific publications and is considered a highly cited scientist, with more than 20,000 citations to his published work. He serves on editorial boards for more than 30 scientific journals and has received numerous scientific awards. He is a Fellow of the AAAS, a Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, and serves on the evaluation committee of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.
Paul's Ambassador Talks
- Inventor of the Digital Camera
- National Medal of Technology and Innovation
- Retired from Kodak Company
Steven J. Sasson joined Kodak in 1973, and worked throughout the seventies as an individual contributor in the Kodak Apparatus Division research laboratories and he engaged in a number of early digital imaging projects. Among these was the design and construction of the first digital still camera and playback system in 1975. During the 1980’s, Steven served as a group leader and individual contributor for a number of digital imaging projects in the consumer products advanced development area. Among these was the first mega pixel digital camera utilizing DCT compression that stored images to flash memory cards.
During the first half of the 1990’s, Steven served as the chief engineer on the “Colorease” printer project which produced Kodak’s first high volume page size thermal printer that served as the basis for the introduction of Kodak’s self service kiosk program. During this timeframe, he was the development manager for the emerging thermal printing platform within Kodak.
In 1996, Steven was named development manager of Output Systems for Kodak’s Professional Products organization. This organization developed and introduced a number of groundbreaking products, which included two families of thermal printers that provided the output engines for the large kiosk placement that occurred during this time. In addition, printers based on AgX, laser thermal and inkjet marking technologies were commercialized in support of the professional photography and graphics markets.
In 2001, he transitioned to the position of R&D development manager for the Retail Photofinishing Platform. This organization delivered the Digital Lab System software platform that was used to control the complete workflow on several partner minilabs around the world. In 2004 Steven moved to the Corporate Commercial Affairs (CCA) organization within Kodak where he served as the project manager for a major Intellectual Property litigation. He continued to work in the Intellectual Property Transactions (IPT) group at Kodak until his retirement from Kodak in February 2009.
Steven's Ambassador Talks
- Founder of Fungi Perfecti and Host Defense Organic Mushrooms
- Inventor of Fungi-Based Solutions to Save Ecosystems and Population Health, holds nine patents
- TED and TEDMED Speaker
Paul Stamets, D.Sc (Hon.), is the founder of Fungi Perfecti (www.fungi.com) and Host Defense Organic Mushrooms (www.hostdefense.com) , and has been a dedicated mycologist for over thirty years. Over this time, he has discovered and coauthored new species of mushrooms, received nine patents, written six books and pioneered countless techniques in the field of edible and functional food mushroom cultivation. Two of his books, Growing Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms and The Mushroom Cultivator have been heralded as the ‘bibles’ of the mushroom industry. His latest book, Mycelium Running, How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, has propelled his vision of using mushrooms to help save ecosystems and improve population health to the world stage. He is a TED and TEDMED speaker. Currently he is working with the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and NIH (National Institutes of Health/Virology), as well as with other universities on a variety of research projects.
Paul’s philosophy is that biodiversity is biosecurity. He sees the ancient Old Growth forests of the Pacific Northwest as a resource of incalculable value, especially in terms of its fungal genome. A dedicated hiker and explorer, his passion is to preserve and protect as many ancestral strains of mushrooms as possible from these pristine woodlands. He funds research to save rare strains of mushrooms that dwell within the old growth forests..
Paul has received numerous awards and honors for his contributions to the science of medicinal mushrooms and ecology. His TED (2008) talk "How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World” has been rated in the top 10 of all TED talks, and viewed more than 1,800,000 times. His TEDMED (2011) introduced medicinal mushrooms to more than 800 physicians. Both TED and TEDMED talks have received 99% positive reviews on youtube.com.
In January of 2014, Paul received the highly acclaimed NAMA (North American Mycological Association, www.namyco.org) award for expanding the field of mycology for both amateurs and professionals.
Paul's Ambassador Talks
- Lecture at Google SciFoo Camp, August 2014
- Lecture at the Burning Man Conference, August 2014
- Exponential Medicine 2014, The Mushrooms of Hippocrates and Dioscorides: Ancient Remedies for Modern Medicine 2.0, November 2014
- Director of Strategic Initiatives, Oceanit
- Inventor and Guinness World Record Holder for the World's Smallest Nanobrush
- Hosted PBS Science Show, "Weird Science with Dr. V"
Dr. Vinod Veedu currently serves Oceanit, a leading Engineering/Research and Development Company, as the Director of Strategic Initiatives, responsible for supporting key Initiatives for the corporate business. He earned MS and PhD degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Florida Atlantic University (2003) and University of Hawaii, respectively (2006). Prior to joining Oceanit, Dr. Veedu worked at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Nanotechnology Center and at the Hawaii Nanotechnology Lab. In 2006, Dr. Veedu joined Oceanit as Senior Nanotechnology Engineer, leading Materials Science related efforts for the company. Dr. Veedu is an active researcher in the area of nanocomposite materials. His research is targeted towards developing multifunctional nanostructures and hybrid platforms for various commercial and defense applications. He has more than 25 approved/pending US patents. His works have received wide acceptance in the nanotechnology community. In 2007, he became part of the Guinness Book of World records for the creation of the smallest nanobrush. In 2008, Dr. Veedu began hosting his own TV show called “Weird Science with Dr. V”, on HawaiiNewsNow (a CBS/NBC affiliate channel). Dr. Veedu also serves the NASA Space Center in Houston as Technical Advisor and he also supports the Houston Technology Center as Energy Advisor. Since 2011, Dr. Veedu has been serving Rice University as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science department.
Vinod's Ambassador Talks