Get a behind-the-scenes look at how science works, and how it takes on the challenges of the 21st century, with the Inventors-in-Residence in the Knight Learning Center. Inventors-in-Residence, a science prize competition and residency program, chooses winning early-stage inventions that have both a local relevance, and a global significance in their potential impact. The first of its kind in the nation, the program has selected two inventors who will each receive a $100,000 grant to support a 12-month residency at the museum to build-out and test their early stage technology. Winning scientific teams work in public-facing labs and interact with museum guests, discussing why their work matters, what kind of progress they’ve made, and what hurdles lie ahead.
Meet the Inventors-in-Residence Winners: Coral Prize and Carcinogen Prize
The winners of the first competition focused their work on two crucial topics: coral restoration (in the Caribbean, more than half of the coral reefs living in the 1970s are dead today); and detecting invisible carcinogens in real time, so people can avoid them and reduce dangerous exposure. The coral restoration team, Andrew Baker, an associate professor of marine biology and ecology at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, and Ph.D. candidate Rivah Winter, want to make reefs more climate-change resilient. It’s known that corals containing heat-tolerant symbiotic algae are more resistant to bleaching. The team has developed laboratory methods to boost symbiotic algae, thus boosting climate change resilience in a scalable manner as ocean temperatures rise.
Carcinogen tracker Prasoon Diwakar is a senior research associate at the Centre for Materials under Extreme Environment (CMUXE) at Purdue University, where he examines the fundamentals of ultrafast laser ablation processes and their implications on various analytical techniques. At Frost Science, Diwakar is developing a portable, real time, cost-effective carcinogen detector using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), which would detect known carcinogen including toxic metals, pollutants and others. Museum guests can see real-time chemical analysis of solid, liquid, gas, and aerosol samples, and determine if there are any potential carcinogens present.
Inventors-in-Residence was conceived by engineer and entrepreneur Dr. Ted Caplow, and is being jointly developed by Caplow, Nathalie Manzano, and Frost Science. Caplow is the founder of immersive science education pioneer New York Sun Works, and Caplow and Manzano jointly created the Miami Science Barge, a public floating education center and sustainable marine lab that won the inaugural 2015 Knight Foundation Cities Challenge. Dr. Caplow generously supports the inaugural Inventors-in-Residence at Frost Science.