I am totally blown away by what I experienced last week at the AAAS annual meeting in Washington D.C. Scientists from all over globe attended. It was a huge honor and quite an eye-opener to be there, surrounded by all these amazingly creative thinkers.
How do I fit in, you may be wondering? I was invited to share my experience commercializing inventions and innovations through licensing as a member of the AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador program.
Sharing stories about inventing and innovation is truly important to inform, inspire and influence the next generation of inventors. I believe everyone can and should be more inventive! AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassadors are shining the light so others can see the way. By sharing our stories — including roadblocks and struggles overcome — we hope to inspire problem solvers at every age.
For example, at the Invention Ambassador breakfast on Sunday, I got to learn more about Dr. Don McPherson's journey as an inventor. I am in complete awe of his inventions and advocacy.
McPherson is a glass scientist who invents products for people who are colorblind and a cofounder of EnChroma, Inc.
People who have normal color vision can see between 1-2 million colors. Those who are color deficient can only see between 10,000 and 100,000 colors. This is a much larger issue than people realize. Color deficiency affects a whopping 600 million people worldwide — about 1 in 12 males and 1 in 200 females.
When McPherson realized the laser safety eyewear he had invented could also help people see colors, he began studying the problem of color deficiency closely. He discovered that many color deficient adults have PTSD from their childhood experiences because 80% of the information in classrooms is color-coded. Only 11 states test for colorblindness — meaning most teachers don't know which of their students are colorblind, and may just assume a child is slow.
He dreamed of being an advocate for children, and now he is. You can learn more about his work and how it affects people here:
At George Washington University, I was invited to speak about how licensing can be a great alternative to starting a business. I truly enjoyed meeting a young man who is a freshman studying to be an entrepreneur who was very interested.
During our private tour of the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American history, I enjoyed checking out prototype models. These used to be a requirement of obtaining a patent from the United States Patent & Trademark Office.
The public was invited to take part at the AAAS annual meeting. For example, there was a huge hall showcasing the work of scientists from many different countries. On Family Science Day, Invention-Ambassador Florence Lu — a master inventor at IBM who has filed 140 patent applications —emphasized that anyone can be an inventor. Her science experiment demonstration with milk and food coloring captivated children in attendance.
It was a unique experience I won't soon forget.