Advisory Committee

The Lemelson Foundation's Advisory Committee provides ongoing strategic advice on the development and implementation of its programs. The Advisory Committee possesses a diversity of expertise across geographical regions and public, private and non-profit sectors. 

Valeria Budinich

Valeria Budinich

Valeria Budinich is a social entrepreneur, author and organizational strategist specializing in high-impact business/social entrepreneurship.

As a Global Leadership Group Member at Ashoka, she founded “Full Economic Citizenship”, a global initiative that has enabled over 50 hybrid business models in housing, small farmer agriculture and health. In 2012, she received the “Harvard/McKinsey M-Prize” for management innovation for her pioneering work in enabling Hybrid Value Chains & Systems. In its new phase, this work is focused on spreading a new vision of leadership and collaborative entrepreneurship designed to scale social impact and wealth creation for the good of all.

Valeria has worked extensively on entrepreneurship in emerging economies.   Prior to Ashoka, she served as the Chief Operating Officer of Appropriate Technology International – a group specialized in transforming small producers’ economies. Valeria was also the founding VP for Latin America at ‘Endeavor’ -  an organization enabling entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world - and the co-founder of a pioneering Seed Investment Capital Fund launched in partnership with local ángel investors in Chile.   Throughout her career, Valeria has served as an strategic advisor to groups like Women’s World Banking, the International Fund for Agricultural Development as well as many other organizations and corporations.

Valeria currently serves in the Advisory Boards of the Lemelson Foundation, Leapfrog Investments and Danone’s Ecosystem Fund. She is the author, alongside Oliver Kayser of Hystra, of “Scaling Up Business Solutions to Social Problems” (Palgrave, 2015).

Lisa Danzig

Dr. Lisa Danzig is Vice President, Development and Medical Affairs at PaxVax, a specialty vaccine company in Redwood City, California. She joined PaxVax in early 2015 as a Special Advisor for Clinical and Medical Affairs, following an 18 year tenure in Vaccine and Diagnostics Development roles, most recently as Global Head of Medical & Scientific Affairs at Grifols (formerly Novartis Diagnostics).

Dr. Danzig is an expert in vaccines. She has contributed to the development of meningococcal vaccines (Menjugate®, Menveo® and Bexsero®) and has worked in Siena, Italy, Cambridge, MA and Hangzhou, China. During her two years as an EIS officer with CDC, she investigated outbreaks of healthcare associated infections and taught epidemiology in Cote d’Ivoire to district health officers in West Africa.

Dr. Danzig received her medical degree from Oregon Health Sciences University and completed residency and fellowship training in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases in San Francisco. She is an independent director at OrSense, and serves on the boards of the Merola Opera Program and the Karuna Foundation and is an advisor to Kernel and The Batchery.

Mir Imran

Mir Imran founded InCube Labs in 1995 to focus on his passion: creating medical solutions that change the standard of care in critical healthcare markets. After attending medical school, Mir began his career as a healthcare entrepreneur in the late 1970's and has founded numerous game-changing companies since those early days. Over the decades, he has become one of the leading inventors and entrepreneurs in the field. Mir now holds more than 200 issued patents and is perhaps most well-known for his pioneering contributions to the first FDA-approved Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator, a device that has saved hundreds of thousands of lives and has become a standard of care in cardiology. 

As an entrepreneur, Mir has founded more than 20 life sciences companies; 15 of his companies have seen "liquidity events" (IPO/Acquisition). Mir's expertise spans a wide range of clinical areas from interventional cardiology to chronic pain, obesity and CNS disorders. Mir actively collaborates with the nation's top universities on research and development including Stanford, Rutgers, Johns Hopkins, UTSW, etc. Mir also founded InCube Ventures, a life sciences venture fund, where he has led investments in a range of promising ventures arising both from InCube Labs and externally. He is also an active angel investor and is a limited partner in several venture funds. He sits on the boards of several life sciences companies.

Mir’s entrepreneurial experiences have led him to feel that the process of innovation is teachable to every child. He noticed that existing STEM education programs do not address the teaching of innovation in a systemic and holistic manner. They also do not reach every child. He thinks there can be a framework for innovation education and began implementing his approach with his own four children. Wanting to take that approach further, Mir established the InCube Innovation Institute in Texas in 2014 to develop a first-of-its-kind Innovation Program for grades 6-12. Its overall goals are “to have a positive impact on students during their most formative middle and high school years; contribute to improved student grades; rankings and graduation rates; and to cultivate the next generation of innovators.” The program currently partners with the San Antonio Independent School District on a pilot program with hopes to scale the work regionally, nationally and internationally over time.

Born and raised in India, Mir moved to New Jersey in 1973 to attend Rutgers, from which he obtained an M.S. in bioengineering and a B.S. in electrical engineering. He also attended CMDNJ/Rutgers Medical School.

Kara Miller

Kara Miller is the host and executive editor of Innovation Hub, which she launched in 2011. Public Radio International took the program national in May, 2014 and it now airs on more than 50 stations.

Innovation Hub is a weekly hour-long radio program that focuses on big ideas and emerging technologies. Kara created the program guided by a genuine interest in how innovation affects our daily lives. During discussions with innovators in various fields, she asks the questions people want to know, and helps us see how people are thinking in new ways.

A former college professor, Kara also has a passion for education. Innovation Hub has repeatedly covered topics relating to STEM in US secondary and higher education, primarily the ways in which it is failing to prepare students for the changing work landscape, with an eye towards engaging kids in hands-on STEM and creativity.

Kara also contributes to “The Takeaway,” a national radio program hosted by John Hockenberry, WGBH’s “Morning Edition,” and “Greater Boston,” which airs on Boston’s PBS station. 

As a host, Kara has interviewed Tom Friedman, Sherry Turkle, Jared Diamond, Sal Khan, David Pogue, and Marissa Mayer, among others. Her writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The National Journal, The Boston Herald, TheAtlantic.com, The Huffington Post, and The International Herald Tribune.

Kara frequently moderates events related to innovation, including The International Women's Forum, PBS Digital Media for STEM, WGBH's Idea Lab, and events at MIT, Harvard Medical School, Mass Challenge, Xconomy, Lesley, Northeastern, and Harvard Graduate School of Education.  

Kara has been a contributor to WGBH’s programming since 2008. Prior to that she was an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts for 3 years and an adjunct professor at Babson College for 2 years. Kara holds a Ph.D. from Tufts and a B.A. from Yale.

Richard K. Miller

Richard K. Miller was appointed President and first employee of Olin College of Engineering in 1999. Olin was founded to radically change engineering education with the goal of fueling the technical innovation needed to solve the world’s complex future challenges. Under his leadership, Olin’s approach has proven successful by all measures. It is attracting the country’s top faculty and students who are passionate about learning and making a difference in the world. The student body is gender balanced and has one of the highest graduation rates in the country.

Rick’s passion for connecting students’ educational experience with societal challenges is evident through his work on the Grand Challenges for Engineering. He believes that change is needed within education to better prepare the next generation for a more complex and competitive world. In particular, he aims to inspire change in higher education that cultivates the inventive spirit in all students and empowers them to apply their skills and knowledge to solve the pressing problems of society. 

Before joining Olin, Richard served as Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Iowa from 1992-99. The previous 17 years were spent on the Engineering faculty at USC in Los Angeles and UCSB in Santa Barbara.

With a background in applied mechanics and current interests in innovation in higher education, Miller is the author of more than 100 reviewed journal articles and other technical publications. Together with two Olin colleagues, he received the 2013 Bernard M. Gordon Prize from the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education. A member of both the NAE and the National Academy of Inventors, he received the Marlowe Award for creative and distinguished administrative leadership from the American Society for Engineering Education in 2011. Miller served as Chair of the Engineering Advisory Committee of the U.S. National Science Foundation and has served on advisory boards and committees for Harvard University, Stanford University, the NAE and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in addition to others. Furthermore, he has served as a consultant to the World Bank in the establishment of new universities. 

A frequent speaker on engineering education, he received the 2002 Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award from the University of California at Davis, where he earned his B.S.  He earned his M.S. from MIT and Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology, where he received the 2014 Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award. 

Juliana Rotich

Juliana Rotich is globally recognized as a technologist, strategic advisor, entrepreneur, and futurist. Her mission is to make things, fix problems, and help others.

Rotich is co-founder and executive director of BRCK.org, a not- for-profit affiliate of BRCK Inc. for deploying reliable technology for the edges of society, and advocating for internet access and literacy. She was also a founder of the parent company BRCK Inc., which designed and engineered a rugged, self-powered, mobile Wi-Fi device that connects people to the internet throughout Africa and other areas of the world with poor infrastructure.

Prior to founding BRCK, Rotich was a founding member of Ushahidi Inc., a non-profit tech company, born in Africa, which specializes in developing free and open source software for changing how information flows in the world. Since its founding in 2008 Ushahidi has been translated into over 30 languages, with over 90,000 deployments reaching more than 20 million people.

Rotich’s entrepreneurial experience has given rise to her role as a strategic advisor to the councils of BASF, Microsoft 4Afrika, and Risk Cooperative. She is a trustee of the iHub in Kenya and Bankinter Foundation for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Spain. Rotich holds a degree in Computer Science from the University of Missouri.

Francisco Sagasti

Francisco Sagasti

Dr. Francisco Sagasti is senior researcher at FORO Nacional/Internacional in Lima, Peru, a not for profit civil association that promotes dialogue and consensus on critical development issues, member of the Board of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and member of de Advisory Committee of the Lemelson Foundation. He has been Chairman of the Board of the Science and Technology Program at the Prime Minister’s Office in Peru, visiting professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the Instituto de Empresa in Madrid, and the University for Peace in Costa Rica; Chief of Strategic Planning at the World Bank and Chairman of the United Nations Advisory Committee on Science and Technology; and advisor and consultant to a large number of international organizations, government agencies and private firms.  He has published more than 20 books and 150 papers on development strategies, science and technology policy, development financing and related themes.

Vijay Simha

Vijay Simha graduated from BITS Pilani and has worked with new ways to analyze materials, manufacture large biomolecules, build markets and fail. He is fortunate to be a part of three sub-industrial revolutions that happened in India: the biotech, auto components and medical technology revolutions.

He is currently evangelising medical technology as a sunrise industry that holds the key to India becoming an economic super power. He is the CEO of OneBreath, an innovation that is being translated from the benches at Stanford University to the bedsides of millions who would die otherwise due to respiratory illness, and is carefully nurturing its utility to positively impact those millions who were denied their right to life because they didn’t have the money.

Caryn Swobe

Caryn Swobe

Caryn Swobe is president of Swobe Strategies, a Nevada-based strategic communications consulting firm. Recently, she was named executive director of the newly formed, Washoe K-12 Education Foundation, a private foundation, which supports one of the country’s largest public school districts. Appointed by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, she serves as chair of the state’s P-16 Advisory Council and is active in Parent Leaders for Education, a grassroots organization focused on Nevada K-12 education reform and funding. For five years, as board chair, she led to effort to plan, fund and build the $25 million Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum. Much of her career, she held the position of managing director at R&R Partners, a marketing and public affairs company based in Nevada with offices located throughout the Western United States and Washington D.C. Caryn has a bachelor of arts in journalism from the University of Southern California, a master’s in business administration from the University of Nevada, Reno and is accredited by the Public Relations Society of America. She lives with her daughter in Reno, NV.

Yong Zhao

Yong Zhao

Dr. Yong Zhao is an internationally known scholar, author, and speaker. His works focus on the implications of globalization and technology on education. He has designed schools that cultivate global competence, developed computer games for language learning, and founded research and development institutions to explore innovative education models. He has published over 100 articles and 20 books, including Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon: Why China has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World, Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization and World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students. He is a recipient of the Early Career Award from the American Educational Research Association and was named one of the 2012 10 most influential people in educational technology by the Tech & Learn Magazine. He is an elected fellow of the International Academy for Education. His latest book World Class Learners has won several awards including the Society of Professors of Education Book Award (2013), Association of Education Publishers’ (AEP) Judges’ Award and Distinguished Achievement Award in Education Leadership(2013).

Bilal Zuberi

Bilal Zuberi

Dr. Bilal Zuberi is a Partner at Lux Capital, a bi-coastal early stage venture capital and private equity firm. Bilal partners with entrepreneurs at an early stage, investing in innovative hardware, software and data companies. Previously Bilal was an investor at General Catalyst Partners in Boston where he invested in robotics, medical diagnostics and energy. Bilal is passionate about first-time entrepreneurs and co-founded RoughDraft.vc, a venture firm focused on student startups, is a founding Board member of StartLabs.org, and co-founded the annual University Research and Entrepreneurship Symposium. Bilal was a co-founder of GEO2 Technologies, an advanced materials company that also spun out Bio2 Technologies, and was a strategy consultant with The Boston Consulting Group. Bilal has a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his technical work has been published in peer-reviewed journals and 30+ patents & applications. He was also a visiting scientist at PNNL/DOE Labs.

Emeritus committee members are Dr. Michael Free (Senior Advisor Emeritus of PATH), Dr. Ashok Gadgil (Director of the Energy and Environmental Technologies Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), Julia Marton-Lefevre (Director General of the World Conservation Union), Iqbal Quadir (Founder of GrameenPhone and lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Dr. Seti Sastrapradja (biodiversity expert and Chair of NATURINDO), Prof. M.S. Swaminathan (geneticist and leader of the Green Revolution), and Judi Wangala Wakhungu (Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources).