Center Stage: The High Rollers of S&T Industry Honored at 2014 R&D 100 Awards

Year: 2014

The R&D 100 Awards have a 50+ year history of recognizing excellence in innovation, earning the name the “Oscars of Invention." And at the annual event, the high rollers of the science and technology industry were honored on stage for their innovative, high-tech products and processes that are, or will, make a difference in our everyday lives.

Along with honoring the 100 best technologies of the year, R&D Magazine also awards a Scientist of the Year and Innovator of the Year.

The 2014 Scientist of the Year, Dr. Karl Deisseroth, the D. H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford Univ., is a leading researcher in the growing field of optogenetics, where light is used to control neurons which have been genetically sensitized to light. Dr. Deisseroth has invented several new technologies in support of efforts to understand neural functions in the human brain. Deisseroth achieved widespread recognition in 2005 for publishing the first demonstration of the use of light-sensitive receptors, called opsins, to reliably control the action of neurons. He coined the term “optogenetics” in 2006 to describe this new field, and in 2009 joined Howard Hughes Medical Institute as an investigator in neuroscience and physiology.

In addition, Dr. Deisseroth is a psychiatric clinician at Stanford, employing electromagnetic brain stimulation techniques in human patients for therapeutic purposes. In 2013, he published work on a new technology called CLARITY that makes biological tissues translucent and accessible to nuclear probes.

2014 marks the 49th Scientists of the Year Award, which recognizes career accomplishments in scientific research and technology development spanning nearly all disciplines from physics to medicine to chemistry. Other recent winners include James Tour of Rice Univ. (2013), Robert Langer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2012), and Steven Chu, former U.S. Secretary of Energy (2011).

The 2014 Innovator of the Year, Prof. Hugh Herr, heads the Biomechatronics research group at the MIT Media Lab, where he is creating bionic limbs that emulate the function of natural limbs. In 2011 TIME magazine coined Herr the “Leader of the Bionic Age” because of his revolutionary work in the emerging field of biomechatronics—technology that marries human physiology with electromechanics. A double amputee himself, Herr is responsible for breakthrough advances in bionic limbs that provide greater mobility and new hope to those with physical disabilities. Herr is also found of the company BiOM, previously iWalk, and has helped ware veterans and some of the victims from the Boston Marathon bombings walk again through the use of his BiOM prosthetics.

2014 marks the 14th Innovator of the Year Award, which recognizes career accomplishments in scientific research and technology development spanning disciplines from medical technology to information technology. Recent winners also include the NASA Curiosity Team, David Ferrucci, Cameron Piron (2008), Elon Musk (2007), Dean Kamen (2006), Larry Page (2002) and Dr. Stuart Parking (2001).

Every year three extra awards are given at the event: The Editor’s Choice Awards. These three awards represent the best of the best of the 100 winners. This year, three new winners joined the ranks: MIT Lincoln Laboratory and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Lunar Laser Communication System, Hewlett-Packard and National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s HP Apollo Liquid-Cooled Supercomputing Platform and American Standard Brands SaTo Hygienic Toilet Pan. Who doesn’t think lasercom to the moon is cool? Or a supercomputer that can heat a whole building and have enough energy to spare to de-ice the nearby sidewalk? Or a sanitary toilet option for those in the third world that die on a daily basis due to health issues from defecation? These three technologies had the “Wow” factor our editors look for and were creative and implemented technologies that can better people’s lives, or just speak to innovation as a whole.

This year also marked our first technology panels, which ranged on topics from analytical instruments and imaging to life sciences and energy/environment. Attendees got to pick the brains of industry-leading (and R&D 100 Award-winning) companies to better learn their innovation processes and the future trends in these areas.

The editors of R&D Magazine are now accepting entries for the 2015 R&D 100 Awards.

For more information on the 2015 R&D 100 Award entry process, please visit