National Invention Hall of Fame Class of 2024 honored in Washington, D.C., ceremony

In her National Inventors Hall of Fame® acceptance speech, Andrea Goldsmith honored the legacy of past inductees. Shankar Balasubramanian lauded the USPTO and its current, ongoing mission to encourage and enable intellectual property protection, particularly patents. And Asad Madni thanked future generations for inventions and innovation that will further transform the world.

The 15 2024 NIHF inductees were honored May 9 in Washington, D.C., at “The Greatest Celebration of American Innovation,” in partnership with the USPTO. Their diverse speech themes were consistent with a wide range of inventions ranging from cancer treatments to theatrical technologies, and with a class that featured 11 men and four women—with six born outside the United States, and two African Americans.

The nine living and six historic inductees are among more than 600 NIHF recipients since its founding in 1973. Goldsmith, who created technical innovations including adaptive beamforming for multi-antenna Wi-Fi, is thrilled to be a part of that history.

“I am incredibly honored and deeply humbled to be inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame,” she said. “The previous and current inductees have changed the world with their ingenuity, their creativity, and their passion to turn their ideas into inventions that benefit the world and everyone in it.

“You are all my professional heroes and my inspiration.”

The India-born Balasubramanian—who co-invented a revolutionary DNA sequencing method with U.K.-born David Klenerman—talked about a different kind of hero.

“The patent examiners, the PTO—you are unsung heroes, actually. Without the endeavors of all you folk, our inventions wouldn’t go anywhere. You play a critical role in that.

“Also, you share with us a genuine passion and curiosity, and a desire to make things work.”

Of course, the road to a patent is part of a broader destination. James Allison, who invented immune checkpoint blockade therapy that is an effective treatment for cancer, said: “All of us have been recognized I think for what might be considered a milestone of our work, a patent that we got.

“That really is just part of the process—to me, at least—of doing science and trying to understand things and then bringing it to people to try to help.”

Lanny Smoot’s way of trying to help is to “amaze and enchant people,” he told CNN in January—shortly after the announcement of the 2024 class was made on his home turf: the Walt Disney Imagineering campus in Glendale, California. Smoot is an elite-level Disney Imagineer who specializes in theatrical technologies and special effects.

He had called his selection “a dream come true. For an inventor, this is the best thing you can do.”

The only other Disney employee to make the NIHF was Walt Disney himself.

When Smoot realized this, “I got a lump in my throat,” he said. “I became a little emotional. I thought, ‘The weight of that is real, right?’”

The night brimmed with excitement and anticipation, the latter on a grander level with regard to invention and innovation to come.

Speaking to young people in the audience, Madni said:

“We are looking forward anxiously to your imaginative and creative contributions in making this a better world for all,” said the man who led the development and commercialization of the MEMS gyroscope.

“While the world awaits your contributions, we, your family at the National Inventors Hall of Fame, anxiously await the opportunity to honor you on this very stage.”

Class of 2024

James Allison invented immune checkpoint blockade therapy, an effective treatment for cancer.

Shankar Balasubramanian and David Klenerman co-invented sequencing-by-synthesis, a DNA sequence that made possible efficient, low-cost and large-scale genome sequencing.

Eric Betzig and Harald Hess co-invented a super-resolution imaging technology called photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM), enabling scientists to distinguish individual molecules.

Andrea Goldsmith created technical innovations including adaptive beamforming for multi-antenna Wi-Fi.

Asad Madni led the development and commercialization of the MEMS gyroscope for aerospace and automotive safety.

Lanny Smoot, a Disney Imagineer who specializes in theatrical technologies and special effects, is the patent leader at The Walt Disney Co. with more than 100.

Xiaowei Zhuang introduced a method of super-resolution imaging— stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy, or STORM.

Posthumous

Joseph-Armand Bombardier invented the Ski-Doo® snowmobile.

George Washington Murray invented agricultural machinery designed to accelerate planting and harvesting processes.

Mary Florence Potts invented an improved sad iron.

Alice Stoll led the development of fire-resistant fabrics.

• Chemist and entrepreneur Jokichi Takamine was a biotechnology pioneer who invented Adrenaline.

• Automotive engineer Ralph Teetor invented cruise control.