The new class of Invention Ambassadors represent the spirit of today’s inventors through their dedication to improving the world we live in and inspiring the next generation of inventors. They are a diverse group of eight inventors who are driving advancements in accessibility, security, healthcare delivery, and sustainability, among other areas. Members of this class include representatives of the public and private sectors, small businesses, academia, and Fortune 500 companies.
Founder, The Data-Driven Institute
Dr. Tyrone W.A. Grandison uses the power of invention to create technologies that protect and improve the human experience. He is the Founder of The Data-Driven Institute, which is a public health non-profit that helps communities and businesses transform raw data into insights, products, policy, and application. He is well-known for his inventions to secure patient data, improve text processing systems, enable smart cities, and increase the privacy and security of social networks.
Dr. Grandison is a 2018 Zhi-Xing Eisenhower Fellow. Dr. Grandison was the first-ever Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. Dr. Grandison also advises the Government of Jamaica on their Information Technology strategy – as a member of the National Information and Communications Technology Advisory Council (2016-18). He was the Deputy Chief Data Officer (dCDO) at the US Department of Commerce (2015-16), where he co-founded the Commerce Data Service – a data startup within the Department that supported its twelve bureaus – and led the successful rollout of its first 15 products. He was also a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow (2014-15) working with the US Department of Labor and the US CENSUS Bureau on their data and API (application programming interface) initiatives.
Dr. Grandison currently holds 27 patents.
Senior Program Manager, Microsoft
Jason Grieves, a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft, empowers people with disabilities by inventing solutions to help them change the world. Jason believes supporting people with disabilities to live, work, and play in ways they never have before will allow a new generation to leverage technology to become the world’s next leaders and innovators. During his 10 years with Microsoft, Jason has introduced new accessible technology for people with visual impairments, improved software typing on phones for everyone, including those with mobility impairments, and built innovative personal health and fitness solutions that energize people to change their life and improve their health. He also spent a year at a tech startup, Katalyst, building a new technology to enable people to work out smarter and more efficiently, with the technology being architected to work seamlessly for people with visual, hearing, and mobility impairments.
Jason’s passion for accessibility and empowering others stems from his own visual disability. He was born with optical nerve damage in both eyes, resulting in uncorrectable vision of 20/80 and 20/200. Through a life changing event meeting a young girl who was completely blind, and with incredible support from his family and friends, Jason began helping people with disabilities in high school. He spent one summer preparing a kindergarten teacher, computer, and classroom for a new student who had a similar visual impairment. When he saw the student using the computer while learning with the teacher in front of the class, he knew he had found his calling.
Jason currently holds 11 patents.
Stephen Key is an award-winning inventor, renowned intellectual property strategist, and lifelong entrepreneur. He achieved repeat success as an independent product developer. His most notable work, called Spinformation, solved the longstanding issue that labels on bottles of medicine did not fit all the information that is required to be on them in a font size that was legible. Key invented a solution that involved adding a second outer label that had a clear window. The outer label would spin around the container, revealing whatever was printed on the inner label through the clear window. The innovative packaging solution has received 15 industry awards, including two Edisons.
Key is dedicated to empowering the next generation of inventors through his unique process for harnessing the power of open innovation. He cofounded a coaching program for inventors in 1999. inventRight has since helped people from more than 60 countries license their ideas for new products. His bestselling book about licensing inventions, One Simple Idea, has been translated into six languages. Key explains how to commercialize intellectual property weekly on his popular YouTube channel and in Forbes, Inc., and Entrepreneur.
In 2017, he cofounded Inventors Groups of America, a not-for-profit, with the goal of educating and empowering inventors and inventing group leaders. He is also the cofounder of inventYES, a free program for high school students worldwide who want to learn about how to turn their ideas into reality.
Stephen currently holds 21 patents.
Senior Chemist, United States Government Publishing Office and Guest Researcher, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Mary Kombolias is a scientist and inventor employed as a Senior Chemist by the United States Government Publishing Office (USGPO). She is concurrently a Guest Researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where she invented a contactless, non-destructive method for fiber analysis which is the first to discern and quantify the amount of recycled fiber in paper. This method can also be used to determine the relative age of paper, providing an alternative to Carbon-14 dating of documents of historical and cultural significance. Her invention is the product of years of persistence, collaboration across government agencies, and the realization that process for fiber analysis had not changed in over 80 years.
Mary also holds a patent for a test which prevents forgery, counterfeiting, smuggling, identity theft, and unauthorized duplication. She is a former middle-school science teacher and serves as a mentor through Future Link Maryland.
Mary currently holds 1 patent.
Fang (Florence) Lu
Senior Solution Architect and IBM Master Inventor, IBM Research
Fang (Florence) Lu is a Senior Solution Architect and three-time IBM Master Inventor working at IBM Research. She has developed numerous software applications at IBM over the last 15 years, ranging from Enterprise Social Solutions to Healthcare Analytics. She has been granted multiple patents, including one for an earlier disease symptom detection through IoT-based devices (such as with Parkinson’s disease, skin and throat disorders).
Florence used her technical and language skills and cultural experience to file more than 140 patent applications for IBM, covering a variety of areas, including Social Software, Internet of Things, Healthcare Analytics, Security, and many more. Florence avidly mentors and encourages other IBMers to turn their ideas into patents by hosting workshops and information sessions, and loves to inspire early professionals as they start their careers in computing.
Florence has been teaching STEM activities at the local school in her community. She also mentored the First Lego League team and volunteered at Jr. Tech’s Girls STEM Summit and Cambridge Science Festival. She is a member of IEEE and ACM.
Florence currently holds 62 patents.
President, Products, EnChroma
Don McPherson is a glass scientist best known for inventing a glass that correct colorblindness, a disorder that afflicts over 600 million people worldwide. He holds eight patents related to his work on the ‘EnChroma’ lenses and Vetrazzo (a cementitious solid containing over 95% recycled material). Dr. McPherson was awarded the inaugural Alfred University Distinguished Alumni Award, and in January 2017 he received the NIH’s Tibbetts award at the White House in recognition for his work in developing eyewear for the colorblind. Don works tirelessly to insure all colorblind children have full color perception in the classroom. He is currently perfecting a contact lens version of the EnChroma technology, which will allow him to reach more students worldwide.
As a scientific expert he uses his platform to continually advocate for helping colorblind children have a more rewarding educational experience. I have also been featured in 2 documentary films, one on colorblindness and one on color in design. In addition to his contributions to EnChroma, Don has served as President of Bay Glass Research, Inc., Vice President of Research and Development at Vetrazzo, Inc., and Founder & CEO of Counter Production, LLC. Don is the recipient of 7 NEI, NIH, and National Cancer Institute grants and has authored 14 scientific papers.
Don currently holds six patents.
Principal Investigator and Research Scientist, MIT Media Lab
Dr. Pratik Shah works at the intersection of research and invention. At the MIT Media Lab he creates novel intersections between engineering, medical imaging, machine learning and microbiology, to invent scalable and low-cost diagnostics and therapeutics. Dr. Shah’s graduate and postdoctoral research contributed to the discovery of a vaccine component to prevent pneumococcal (Streptococcus pneumoniae) diseases, identification of new pathways, technologies and metabolites as antimicrobials to target gastrointestinal infections, and a nonprofit to deploy a low-cost water quality test for the developing world. Among his many ongoing lines of research and development, Dr. Shah is utilizing artificial intelligence to improve cancer detection and treatments.
Dr. Shah ‘s past recognition includes the American Society for Microbiology’s Raymond W. Sarber national award, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospitals ECOR Fund for Medical Discovery postdoctoral fellowship, coverage by leading national and international news media outlets, and a TED talk. His research at MIT includes:
- artificial intelligence methods for detection of cancer biomarkers using standard photographs vs. expensive medical images;
- unorthodox artificial intelligence algorithms to design optimal and faster clinical trials to reduce adverse effects on patients; and
- low-cost and open source imaging devices, paper diagnostics, algorithms, and mobile phones to improve public health.
Pratik has been an invited discussion leader at Gordon Research Seminars; a speaker at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, Gordon Research Conferences and IEEE bioengineering conferences; and a peer reviewer for leading scientific publications and funding agencies.
Dr. Shah currently holds one patent.
Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, College of Nursing
Dr. Rachel Walker, Ph.D., RN, is a nurse inventor and Assistant Professor in the University of Massachusetts-Amherst College of Nursing whose scholarship is grounded in her experiences as a rural emergency medical and disaster relief worker, a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, and an oncology nurse. She is the first nurse to be named an AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador. Her inventions include a portable, self-contained IV device for disaster aid and self-care toolkit for breast cancer survivors. She is a leading advocate for the importance of the nurses the invention ecosystem.
Dr. Walker is currently a Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer Research CCR Scholar and an Associate Director for the UMASS Institute for Applied Life Science’s Center for Personalized Health Monitoring. She completed her doctorate at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Johns Hopkins Center for Innovative Care in Aging. Her team focuses on person-driven and participatory approaches to promoting dignity, capability, and health equity over the life course. Dr. Walker works collaboratively with patient advocates and community leaders, clinicians, industry partners, and scholars from a wide variety of disciplines to develop technology, models of care, and other innovations that support cancer symptom self-management and survivors’ ability to engage in the roles and activities that are most important to them and their families.
Dr. Walker does not currently hold any patents.