Ada Lovelace Day: The TR35

If you hang around this blog for a little while, you’ll soon discover my geek crush on Technology Review, a fantastic publication that comes out of MIT six times a year. It covers all aspects of technology, with a heavy focus on nanotechnology and medical technology in addition to the more typical IT and engineering tech fare.

Every year, TR publishes a “TR35” issue, which highlights the top 35 innovators in computing, the web, business, biomedicine, and communication under the age of 35.

In 2009, the following women were recognized:

  • Andrea Armani, for inventing optical sensors than can detect single molecules, which will help doctors diagnose and start treating illnesses much earlier
  • Michelle Khine, who was inspired by Shrinky Dinks to create a new method that allows cheap & easy production of high-tech diagnostic chips, which have a variety of applications, from rapid bedside diagnoses to improving the odds of a successful organ transplant to improving solar cell technology
  • Anat Levin, who developed a new digital camera and algorithm that remove motion blur from moving images
  • Ellis Meng, who invented an insertable micropump to deliver medicines that prevent blindness directly to the eye
  • Vera Sazonova, who created the world’s smallest resonator, which could be used to create motion detectors so sensitive they’d be able to detect gravitational waves
  • Elena Shevchenko, who is “the best grower of nanocrystals in the world today” and has created dozens of new nanomaterials to date
  • Dawn Song, who created a platform called BitBlaze that can automatically analyze new malware and create a filter on the fly that will protect computers until a formal patch can be written, tested, and released
  • Jaime Teevan, a leader in search technology, who is innovating on using information about people’s knowledge, preferences, and habits to help them better manage and sift through search results
  • Andrea Thomaz, who’s created robots that learn new tasks the way people do, using social cues

Follow the links to learn more about what each of these inspiring young women is up to.

Ada Lovelace Day Post: Mary Dixon Kies

In honor of Ada Lovelace Day, I’d like to recognize Mary Dixon Kies, the first woman to be awarded a patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office, in May of 1809, over 100 years before women could even vote. I quote USPTO:

In 1809, Mary Dixon Kies, a native of Killingly, Conn., received the first U.S. patent awarded to a woman for a process of weaving straw with silk or thread. Unfortunately, all records of this patent were destroyed in the Patent Office fire of 1836. First Lady Dolly Madison praised Kies for helping the hat industry and boosting the economy because, at the time, the U.S. government had put an embargo on all European goods.

Mary Dixon Kies was 57 years old at the time she was awarded her patent. Although women had earlier invented patentable devices, in keeping with the times when even a woman’s ideas were not her own, their patents were awarded to their husbands. Mary Dixon Kies’ invention simplified the process of weaving straw with silk and thread, contributing to the vital straw hat industry of the early 19th century. She was unsuccessful in profiting from her invention, however, and died peniless in Brookyln in 1837, at the age of 85.