Frances S. Ligler
Eppright Chair and Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Texas A&M University, USA
Qualities of an innovative thinker? The ability to listen and assimilate the ideas of others. The greatest inventions emerge from the cracks between the disciplines. Reading widely and learning broadly is the best way to prepare to “commit invention.” Knowing what your predecessors have accomplished across your field and others can spark a better appreciation of capability gaps and generate new uses for seemingly unrelated technologies.
Making the most out of your invention… Identify the customer with the most pressing problem that can be solved using your invention. Learn all you can about their needs. Make sure that the development of the invention into a commercial/sharable product is done in such a way that the intended customer can use it to solve his problems in the simplest, most effective, fastest, and least expensive way possible. If your exact invention is surpassed during the development process, glory in the realization that you sparked an even better innovation!
Picking a problem? I work on problems that keep me awake at night. Fear is a great motivator!
The decade’s most important development? Creative use of cell phone optics and cell phone apps for data analysis and transmission.
Missing from the toolbox? Inexpensive methods for nondestructive analysis of living systems in 4 dimensions at the cell and molecular level, including deep in tissues.