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.

Ambassador speaking engagements for 2015-2016:

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.

Ambassador speaking engagements for 2015-2016:

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.

Ambassador speaking engagements for 2015-2016:
September 2015 - USPTO and Smithsonian Institute, Innovation Festival


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.

Ambassador speaking engagements for 2015-2016:

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).

Ambassador speaking engagments for 2015-2016:

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.

Ambassador speaking engagements for 2015-2016:

Alumni Ambassadors

Karen Burg, PhD
Vice President for Research, and Professor of Chemical Engineering, Kansas State University

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

Sorin Grama
Co-Founder and CEO, Promethean Power Systems
Co-Founder, Greentown Labs

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

Steven Sasson
Inventor of the Digital Camera
Kodak Company, Retired

Paul Stamets
Founder, Fungi Perfecti and Host Defense Organic Mushrooms

Vinod Veedu
Director of Strategic Initiatives, Oceanit