Palo Alto, Calif. – Today, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation selected five aspiring inventors as the inaugural cohort of Moore Inventor Fellows. This new fellowship program recognizes early-career innovators at U.S. universities with a high potential to accelerate progress in scientific research, environmental conservation and patient care.

Each fellow will receive a total of $825,000 over three years to drive their invention forward, including $50,000 per year from their home institution as commitment to these outstanding individuals. Beginning with these five fellows in 2016, the foundation will invest nearly $34 million during the next ten years to support 50 Moore Inventor Fellows.

In 1965, Gordon Moore predicted the doubling of components on an integrated circuit every 18 months. From careful observation of an emerging trend, Moore extrapolated that computing would dramatically increase in power, and decrease in relative cost, at an exponential pace. This observation helped fuel the technological advancement and acceleration we have seen in the past 50 years. With the creation of the Moore Inventor Fellows, the foundation hopes to enable breakthroughs that accelerate progress over the next 50 years.

“We are investing in promising scientist-problem solvers with a passion for inventing – like Gordon Moore himself,” said Harvey V. Fineberg, M.D., Ph.D., president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. “By providing support to these early-career researchers, we can give them the freedom to try out new ideas that could make a real and positive difference.”

The fellows will be recognized at an event later today at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, CA highlighting the importance of invention in Silicon Valley and beyond. The event includes panel discussions with the fellows and champions of invention from academia, government, venture capital and industry who will discuss the conditions needed to nurture invention in the United States.

“We cannot know in advance that an invention we support will change the world – but giving passionate inventors the resources to develop a good idea can accelerate progress in the areas we care about,” said Robert Kirshner, Ph.D., chief program officer for science at the Moore Foundation.

The inaugural Moore Inventor Fellows are:

Deji Akinwande - University of Texas, Austin
A recipient of the 2016 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, Deji Akinwande is an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. He is creating an atomically thin 2D-silicon structure known as silicene, which could provide a tenfold increase in energy efficiency for integrated circuits such as computer chips. Deji’s goal is to make the world’s thinnest silicon transistor, which would extend the reach of Moore's Law and scale silicon technology to even smaller dimensions.

Shane Ardo – University of California, Irvine
Shane Ardo is an assistant professor of chemistry at UCI. Shane’s materials invention uses sunlight to drive a novel ion-pumping mechanism that could be used to boost the power output and efficiency of electrochemical technologies. His new materials will also enable sustainable, affordable and efficient polymeric devices to desalinate water for human consumption and agriculture with the potential to help solve the severe worldwide issue of clean water scarcity.

Xingjie Ni – Pennsylvania State University
Xingjie Ni is an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Penn State. Xingjie’s invention is a brighter quantum light source that could ultimately increase the speed, scale, and security of information transmission in quantum communication and computing. While ‘invisibility cloaks’ may sound like fiction, one of the tangible applications of Xingjie’s invention is optical camouflage, which has real-world applications across aviation and health care.

Joanna Slusky – University of Kansas
Joanna Slusky is an assistant professor of molecular biosciences and computational biology at the University of Kansas. Joanna’s invention is a protein that will re-sensitize bacteria to common antibiotics, thereby overcoming drug-resistant superbugs. Joanna’s invention could have a global impact on antibiotic resistance and re-establish the efficacy of antibiotics.

Mona Jarrahi – University of California, Los Angeles
Mona Jarrahi is an associate professor of electrical engineering at UCLA. She is a recipient of the 2013 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Jarrahi’s invention is an imaging tool to help researchers understand how fundamental biological molecules behave in their natural environment. This tool will help answer fundamental physical questions that are not possible through existing technologies. 

For this inaugural year, the Moore Inventor Fellows competition drew from early-career researchers at Association of American Universities member institutions and 15 additional institutions from the top 50 National Institutes of Health-funded medical schools.


The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation fosters path-breaking scientific discovery, environmental conservation, patient care improvements and the preservation of the special character of the Bay Area.


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