National Inventors Hall of Fame Announces mRNA, VoIP and Super Soaker Innovators Among 2022 Class

Honorees’ Contributions to Society Are Centerpiece of May Event

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NORTH CANTON, Ohio, Sept. 21, 2021 — Seven innovation pioneers whose inventions range from cataract surgery to the modern automobile will be honored as part of the latest class of National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Inductees.

In partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), NIHF will honor these Inductees on May 5, 2022, at one of the innovation industry’s most highly anticipated events — “The Greatest Celebration of American Innovation®.

“As a nation, we innovate and we grow. Advancing innovation and entrepreneurship is critical to the future of our country, and the National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees inspire a culture of invention,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “The Department of Commerce congratulates, and celebrates, NIHF’s 2022 class of Inductees.”

The Class of 2022

Marian Croak: VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) Technology

Engineer Marian Croak has worked on advancing Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technologies, converting voice data into digital signals that can be easily transmitted over the internet. Her work has allowed VoIP to become a practical reality by enabling reliability and high quality. Today, VoIP technology is vital for remote work and conferencing, as well as personal communications.

Lonnie Johnson: Super Soaker

Engineer and entrepreneur Lonnie Johnson is the inventor of the Super Soaker®, which became a best-selling toy generating well over $1 billion in sales over its lifetime. Johnson’s longtime research focuses on energy technology, and his work today includes advances in rechargeable battery technology and thermodynamic technology to convert thermal energy to electrical energy.

Katalin Karikó and Dr. Drew Weissman: Modified mRNA Technology Used in COVID-19 Vaccines

Fundamental research by biochemist Katalin Karikó and immunologist Drew Weissman laid a critical piece of the foundation for the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. The mRNA vaccines have been crucial in the fight against the COVID-19 respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV 2, a new coronavirus discovered in 2019. Nearly 1 billion mRNA vaccine doses have been administered worldwide since December 2020.

Dr. Patricia Bath: Laserphaco Cataract Surgery (Posthumous)

Ophthalmologist Patricia Bath invented a new device and technique to remove cataracts known as laserphaco. Different than phacoemulsification that uses ultrasound, it could perform all steps of cataract removal, including making the surgical incision, destroying the lens and vacuuming out the fractured pieces.

Carl Benz: Modern Automobile (Posthumous)

German engineer Carl Benz was the first to design a car around the internal combustion engine rather than adding an engine to an existing wagon or carriage, a critical insight in auto evolution. By integrating the engine, chassis and drive into a single entity, Benz set the standard for all future automotive design and engineering.

James Buchanan Eads: American Infrastructure and Defense (Posthumous)

James Buchanan Eads created a series of inventions during the 1800s that improved transportation and the military defense of the Mississippi River region. His widespread innovations were crucial to river salvage, the success of the Union Navy during the Civil War, and infrastructure and engineering that enabled major advances in commerce.

These seven innovators join the 22 NIHF Inductees announced in 2020, as all 29 will be honored as the class of 2022 at the Annual National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The Inductees announced in 2020 include:

  • Dr. R. Rox Anderson: Laser Dermatology
  • Sylvia Blankenship and Edward Sisler (Sisler, Posthumous): 1-MCP for Fruit, Vegetable and Flower Freshness
  • Dana Bookbinder, Ming-Jun Li and Pushkar Tandon: Bend-Insensitive Optical Fiber
  • Lisa Lindahl, Hinda Miller and Polly Smith: Sports Bra
  • James McEwen: Automatic Surgical Tourniquet
  • Mick Mountz, Peter Wurman and Raffaello D’Andrea: Mobile Robotic Material Handling for Order Fulfillment
  • Margaret Wu: Synthetic Lubricants
  • James Abercrombie and Harry Cameron: Blowout Preventer (BOP); (Posthumous)
  • Stewart Adams and John Nicholson: Ibuprofen (Posthumous)
  • Evelyn Berezin: Computer Systems for Business Use (Posthumous)
  • Edward W. Bullard: Hard Hat (Posthumous)
  • Floyd Smith: Modern Parachute (Posthumous)
  • Frank Zybach: Center-Pivot Irrigation (Posthumous)

For biographies of each Inductee, visit https://www.invent.org/inductees/new-inductees.

The Celebration

The 29 Inductees in the class of 2022 will be honored at “The Greatest Celebration of American Innovation,” held in our nation's capital. Danica McKellar — star of the TV show “The Wonder Years,” Hallmark Channel regular, and author of New York Times bestselling “McKellar Math” books — will serve as master of ceremonies.

  • May 4 – Illumination Ceremony at the National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum at the USPTO Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, where new Inductees will place their names on illuminated hexagons in the museum’s Gallery of Icons™.
  • May 5 – The 2022 National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held at The Anthem in Washington, D.C., where the new Inductee class will be honored for its contributions to society during an evening event including a black-tie dinner and ceremony. To learn more about the event, visit https://www.invent.org/induction.

“The National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony truly is ‘The Greatest Celebration of American Innovation’ — focusing on the brilliance of inventors, the excitement of invention and the incredible benefits they bring to society,” said Andrew Hirshfeld, Commissioner for Patents and performing the functions and duties of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “The USPTO is proud to honor these innovators whose inventions have fundamentally changed our lives.”

“Innovation drives the worldwide economy forward and improves our quality of life. This is especially apparent given what we have experienced over the past 18 months. It’s why at the National Inventors Hall of Fame we are privileged to honor our country’s most significant inventors, who are giving the next generation the inspiration to innovate, create, and solve current and future problems,” said NIHF CEO Michael Oister.

Sponsors of the National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony include the USPTO, Qualcomm, PhRMA and Walgreens Boots Alliance.

About the National Inventors Hall of Fame

The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) is the premier nonprofit organization in America dedicated to recognizing inventors and invention, promoting creativity, and advancing the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. Founded in 1973 in partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, NIHF is committed to not only honoring the individuals whose inventions have made the world a better place, but to ensuring American ingenuity continues to thrive in the hands of coming generations through its national, hands-on educational programming and collegiate competitions focused on the exploration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Explore the NIHF Museum digitally in Google Arts & Culture’s “Once Upon a Try” project. For more information, visit invent.org. To nominate an inventor for Induction, visit invent.org/nominate.

Media Contact:
Ken Torisky
National Inventors Hall of Fame
[email protected]
234-901-6085