When it comes to solving society’s greatest challenges, we need a diverse set of ideas and perspectives. In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are honoring many of our world-changing National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Inductees on our blog, across our social media pages and in our museum.
This year’s class of Inductees includes excellent examples of women who have revolutionized their fields and developed inventions that have made a significant impact on society. By sharing their stories, we can both inspire young innovators and remind everyone why promoting diversity and inclusion in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is essential to creating innovative solutions.
As one of the most accomplished industrial chemists in the history of ExxonMobil, NIHF Inductee Margaret Wu is credited with revolutionizing the field of synthetic lubricants. Thanks to her discovery and development of PAO synthetic base oils, Wu created lubricants that improved energy efficiency, reduced waste and offered better machine protection. Today, synthetic lubricant products based on her work are used in many different applications, from car engines to industrial machines including wind turbines. When she retired from ExxonMobil in 2009, she had reached the title of senior scientific advisor, the highest technical rank in the company, and was the first woman to do so. She is named on over 100 U.S. patents.
Together with biochemist and fellow NIHF Inductee Edward Sisler, horticulturist Sylvia Blankenship identified 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP), a unique compound that extends the freshness and storage life of fruits, vegetables and cut flowers. In 1996, the AgroFresh company was founded to commercialize 1-MCP, and today their product, SmartFresh™, is used on over 30 crops, including 50 to 70% of the apples harvested in the United States. Blankenship earned her bachelor of science and master of science degrees in horticulture science at Texas A&M University and a doctorate in horticulture science at Oregon State University.
As an expert in logic design and data transmission, Evelyn Berezin created one of the earliest computer reservation systems for United Airlines and developed the first computerized standalone word processor for business use, called the “Data Secretary.” First becoming interested in science and technology while reading copies of her brother’s Astounding Science Fiction magazines, Berezin would go on to earn an undergraduate degree in physics from New York University. She co-founded the Redactron Corporation in 1969 in part due to the discrimination women faced in technology industries that led to a lack of opportunity. During her lifetime, she held 13 U.S. patents.
Together, NIHF Inductees Lisa Lindahl, Hinda Miller and Polly Smith created the Jogbra® — the world’s first sports bra. Comprised of a compressing front panel, smooth exterior seams, supportive rib band and crossing elastic straps, the Jogbra gave millions of women the ability to comfortably participate in athletics. The importance of the sports bra cannot be understated. According to Smithsonian.com, “The introduction of the sports bra did more than improve athletes’ performances. It represented a revolution in ready to wear clothing, and for many women athletes, the bra actually made sports possible.”
Learn more about all our Inductees
NIHF prides itself on celebrating and promoting our diverse group of Inductees during our Induction Ceremony, within the NIHF Museum and throughout our education programs. To learn more, we invite you to visit our blog.