Meet the Invention Ambassadors


We are proud to introduce the Class 2 AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassadors.  Learn more about them below and follow their journey!


Lisa DeLuca is a Technology Strategist for the IBM Commerce, Experience One organization. Lisa holds a Masters of Science in Technology Commercialization from the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, and a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University with minors in Business Administration and Multimedia Productions. In 2014, she was named one of Network World's 50 Most Fascinating People in the World of Technology.  She is a TED speaker, a self-­‐published author of a children’s book titled "A Robot Story", and the most prolific female inventor in IBM history and, at only 32 years old, one of the youngest inventors at IBM to ever reach the 100th Invention Plateau Award (an IBM internal patent award system).  Her innovation portfolio includes over 370 patent applications filed within the United
States and abroad, of which, over 150 have been granted, to date. The subject of her patent ideas range from areas such as cloud, mobile, social, security, and everything in between. Lisa has spoken at numerous tech conferences and written articles to share her technology and innovation passion with others.


Juan Gilbert is the Andrew Banks Family Preeminence Endowed Professor and Chairman of the Computer & Information Science & Engineering Department at  the  University  of  Florida  where  he  leads  the  Human  Experience Research Lab.  Dr. Gilbert has research projects in spoken language systems, advanced learning technologies, usability and accessibility, Ethnocomputing (Culturally Relevant Computing) and databases/data mining. He has published more than 140 articles, given more than 200 talks and obtained more than $24 million dollars in research funding. He is a Fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Gilbert is the inventor of Prime III, a universally designed voting technology that allows people to vote privately and independently on the same machine independent of their ability or disability. He is also the inventor of Applications Quest (AQ). AQ is an innovative data mining tool designed to solve Affirmative Action issues relating to the use of race/ethnicity, gender, national origin, etc. in university admissions, hiring and other practices.

In 2012, Dr. Gilbert received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring from President Barack Obama. He also received the American Association for he Advancement of Science (AAAS) 2014 Mentor Award. He was recently named one of the 50 most important African-­‐Americans in Technology. He was also named a Speech Technology Luminary by Speech Technology Magazine and a national role model by Minority Access Inc. Dr. Gilbert is also a National Associate of the National Research Council of the National Academies, an ACM Distinguished Scientist and a Senior Member of the IEEE. Recently, Dr. Gilbert was named a Master of Innovation by Black Enterprise Magazine, a Modern-­‐Day Technology Leader by the Black Engineer of the Year Award Conference, the Pioneer of the Year by the National Society of Black Engineers and he received the Black Data Processing Association (BDPA) Epsilon Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution. In 2002, Dr. Gilbert was named one of the nation's top African-­‐American Scholars by Diverse Issues in Higher Education. In 2013, the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association at Auburn University named their Distinguished Lecture Series in honor of Dr. Gilbert.
Dr. Gilbert testified before the Congress on the Bipartisan Electronic Voting Reform Act of 2008 for his innovative work in electronic voting. In 2006, Dr. Gilbert was honored with a mural painting in New York City by City Year New York, a non-­‐profit organization that unites a diverse group of 17 to 24 year-­‐old young people for a year of  full-­‐time,  rigorous  community  service,  leadership  development,  and  civic engagement.


Jay Harman is a naturalist, inventor, and entrepreneur.  Harman has taken a hands-on approach to his lifelong fascination with natural fluid systems.  In the process, he has grown successful biomimicry companies that design innovative products, ranging from prize-winning watercraft, to a non-invasive technology for measuring blood glucose, to his most recent companies, PAX Scientific and its subsidiaries.  With a goal to show manufacturing industries that more efficient equipment is profitable for both shareholders and the environment, PAX designs devices including fans, mixers, pumps, refrigeration systems, and distillation systems, all based on Jay’s revolutionary understanding of nature’s methods for streamlining fluid flow.

As well as his roles as CEO of PAX Scientific, Inc. and PAX Mixer, Inc., Jay acts as chairman of the board for PAX’s subsidiaries companies, PAX Water Technologies, Inc. and PAX Pure, Inc. He shares his experience and adventures in the natural world and the corporate jungle in his book, The Shark’s Paintbrush, with all proceeds supporting biomimicry education. Jay is also featured in Prince Charles’ documentary, Harmony, and his book of the same title, as well as Elemental, an award-winning documentary profiling three environmental activists around the world.  www.thesharkspaintbrush.com


Andrew Hessel is a Distinguished Researcher with the Bio/Nano Research Group at Autodesk Inc. in San Francisco and a futurist in genomic technologies. Working as a connector and catalyst in biotechnology and synthetic biology, he helps industry, academic, and authorities better understand the rapid changes happening in life science. He also is the founder of the Pink Army Cooperative, the world’s first cooperative biotechnology company, which is aiming to produce open source viral therapies for cancer. He is a fellow at the University of Ottawa, Institute for Science, Society and Policy, and the former co-­‐ chair of bioinformatics and biotechnology at Singularity University.


Suzie Pun earned her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University and her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology under the mentorship of Prof. Mark E. Davis. She then worked as a senior scientist at Insert Therapeutics/Calando Pharmaceuticals for three years developing polymeric drug delivery  systems  before  joining  the  Department  of  Bioengineering  at  University  of
Washington (UW).

She is currently the Robert J Rushmer Professor of Bioengineering, an Adjunct Professor of Chemical Engineering, and a member of the Molecular Engineering and Sciences Institute at UW.  Her research focus area is in biomaterials and drug delivery and she has published over 80 research articles in this area, holds six patents, and given over 100 invited presentations on her group’s work. She contributed toward the development of drug delivery vehicles that have entered clinical trials. More recently, her research group has developed methods for drug delivery to the central nervous system as well as injectable, synthetic hmostats for trauma treatment.

Suzie has been recognized for her work with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, a Young Investigator Award from the Controlled Release Society, and the 2014 Inaugural Biomaterials Science Lectureship. Other honors include recognition as a Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s TR100 Young Innovator and as an American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering fellow.  Suzie has been committed to mentoring young scientists and engineers. She has mentored over 75 students in her laboratory at University of Washington, including 16 Ph.D. candidates and 13 postdoctoral fellows.  She has been recognized for her student mentorship with awards from both her department and the University of Washington.


Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Guided by the belief that all of the world’s people deserve access to health innovation, Professor Rebecca Richards-Kortum’s research and teaching focus on developing low-cost,  high-performance technology for low- resource settings. She is known for providing vulnerable populations in the developing world access to life- saving health technology, focusing on diseases and conditions that cause high morbidity and mortality, such as cervical and oral cancer, premature birth, and malaria. Professor Richards-Kortum’s work in appropriate point- of-care screening technologies has earned her induction into the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Inventors, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Rebecca is the Stanley C. Moore Professor of Bioengineering at Rice University. Previously, she held the Cockrell Family Chair in Engineering #10 and was a Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, where she was also a Distinguished Teaching Professor. After receiving a B.S. in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1985, she continued her graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she received an MS in Physics in 1987 and a PhD in Medical Physics in 1990. She joined the faculty in Bioengineering at Rice University in 2005 and served as Chair of Bioengineering from 2005-2008 and 2012-2014.

Dr. Richards-Kortum’s research group is developing miniature imaging systems to enable better screening for oral, esophageal, and cervical cancer and their precursors at the point-of-care. She led development of a novel high resolution microendoscope capable of real-time, subcellular imaging of epithelial tissue. Her team developed low-cost (<$2500), robust hardware platforms, including a tablet- and cell-phone based system. Together with colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine and the UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, she has carried out clinical trials involving more than 1,000 patients, which show that the device has promise to improve early diagnosis of esophageal, oral, and cervical precancer. In a prospective, multi-center clinical trial carried out in the US and China, high resolution microendoscopy improved specificity for esophageal precancer from 29% to 79%, without reducing sensitivity. Clinical trials of over 15,000 patients in China, Brazil, and El Salvador are now underway.

Her group has integrated advances in nanotechnology and microfabrication to develop novel, low-cost sensors to detect infectious diseases at the point-of-care, including HIV, cryptosporidium, malaria, and Tuberculosis. Her group developed a low-cost sensor to detect hemoglobin concentration; the device reduced per test cost by more than 100-fold (less than US$0.01 per test) compared to the standard of care. She led development of novel nucleic acid tests to enable diagnosis of HIV in infants in low-resource settings, introducing the first integrated paper and plastic device to enable isothermal amplification of HIV DNA.

Together with Maria Oden, Dr. Richards-Kortum led development and dissemination of low-cost, robust technologies to improve neonatal survival in sub-Saharan Africa. Her team developed a $160 bubble CPAP device to treat premature infants with respiratory distress syndrome; the device delivers the same flow and pressure as systems used in the US, at 30-fold reduction in cost. Initial clinical evaluation showed that the device improved survival rates from 24% to 65%, mirroring the impact of CPAP when it was introduced in the US in the 1970s. The device has been implemented at all government hospitals in Malawi, and introduced in Zambia, Tanzania, and South Africa. In 2014, CPAP was recognized by the UN as one of 10 innovations that can save the lives of women and children now. The team is now developing a comprehensive set of technologies to enable provision of essential newborn care at district hospitals in Africa, with the goal to equip a district hospital serving a catchment area of 250,000 people for a cost of less than $10,000.

At Rice University, Dr. Richards-Kortum has established new educational programs in global health technologies. She founded the Beyond Traditional Borders (BTB) program in which undergraduate students from multiple backgrounds learn to think beyond geographic and disciplinary boundaries to solve challenges in global health. In 2012, Science awarded BTB the Prize for Inquiry Based Instruction, which recognizes outstanding examples of inquiry-based and design-based engineering education modules. In addition, the National Academy of Engineering recognized BTB with the Real-World Education Prize for successfully integrating real world experiences into undergraduate curriculum. BTB has also been recognized by ASEE with the Chester Carlson Award (2007) and with the IEEE Educational Activities Board Vice-President Recognition Award (2008).


Michael Smith is a visual computing architect and Director of the Intel Software Academic Program for Perceptual Computing and the Internet of Things. He is a specialist in image and video analytics with a focus on automated media understanding for video search and visualization. He has given over 100 invited presentations and he is the author of numerous scientific publications and a book on video indexing, search and summarization. He is a pioneer in health systems for remote monitoring and he is a co-founder of the Urban Health initiative for improving patient wellness in underrepresented communities.

He served as the Director of Research for France Telecom-Orange Labs, San Francisco, where he developed advanced media systems for smartphones and other mobile platforms. He developed seminal image processing and context aware analytics solutions to drastically increase face and location recognition in photographs on smartphones. As part of the Informedia Digital Video Library at Carnegie Mellon University, he developed patented technology for video metadata creation and summarization, which was licensed to several media organizations, including SonicFoundry and Sony.

He is also a specialist and innovator in entrepreneurial and education advances in developing countries. He recently worked with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to develop their national university system, where he served as the Vice President of Digital Media Studies and Chairman of the ICT Department. He has worked as a visiting scholar and Fulbright Specialist at the Universitaria de Investigación y Desarrollo, Colombia, the University of Campinas, Brazil, and the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He has held academic positions at the University of Texas in Austin, Huston-Tillotson University and Morehouse College. He also served as a research scientist and lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley as part of the NSF Broadening Participation in Computing Engineering Pathways Digital Library. Dr. Smith holds a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, a Master’s in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, and a Bachelor’s degree from Tuskegee University and North Carolina A&T University.


Alumni Ambassadors


Karen Burg, PhD
Harbor Lights Endowed Chair & Professor, Department of Small Animal Medicine & Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia

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.  Prior to joining the University of Georgia, Karen served at  Kansas State University 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.


Rory Cooper, PhD
FISA/PVA Endowed Chair, Distinguished Professor of the Dept. of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, School of Health and Rehabilitation Services, University of Pittsburgh

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 Orthopedic 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.


Sorin Grama
Co-Founder and CEO, Promethean Power Systems
Co-Founder, Greentown Labs
Guest Faculty at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi

Co-founder and CEO of Promethean Power Systems, a clean-energy start-up with offices in the US and India.  Grama is also Guest Faculty at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

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.


Paul Sanberg, PhD
Sr. Vice President for Research and Innovation, University of South Florida
Founder and President, National Academy of Inventors

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 Stamets
Founder, Fungi Perfecti and Host Defense Organic Mushrooms

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 >2.6 million 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. 


Vinod Veedu
Director of Strategic Initiatives, Oceanit

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.