Journeys of Innovation

Each month, the USPTO seeks to inspire and encourage innovation by sharing relatable stories that chronicle the journeys of inventors and entrepreneurs. We shed light on where they got their start, the challenges they faced, and what it took to bring their ideas to fruition and their brands to life. The stories also emphasize the importance of creating and protecting intellectual property, and the critical role it plays in innovation.

Browse all stories below, or search for a name or story title.

Garrett Morgan with a medal pinned to his suit jacket alongside drawings from his smoke hood and traffic signal patent
Featured this month
Garrett Morgan
One inventor's quest to build a safer and stronger community
Full story
Portrait of Dr. Robert Bryant smiling and in a white button up shirt with a blue lanyard
Dr. Robert Bryant
Chemist finds success through adversity by relying on values Full Story >
Chemist in lab coat and safety goggles surrounded by lab equipment
Dr. Norma Alcantar
Dr. Norma Alcantar's journey with cacti and the women who inspired her Full Story >
Woman in blue dress stands in front of a museum display of Gatorade inventor
Phoebe Cade Miles and Dr. James Robert Cade
Phoebe Cade Miles and her Cade Museum staff leverage Gatorade’s legacy so ‘inventivity’ opportunities flow for all Americans Full Story >
Francisco Laboy and Vanessa Carballido, co-founders of Genmoji, standing in front of a backdrop that reads “GES Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2019 United States | The Netherlands.”
Vanessa Carballido Clerch and Francisco Laboy Colondres
A struggle for reliable and low-cost energy in Puerto Rico Full Story >
A black and white photograph of a woman and her young son centered on the left and superimposed on top of a 1980s Liquid Paper print advertisement.
Bette Nesmith Graham
How one woman's perseverance transformed office supplies of the 20th century and propelled her into the business elite Full Story >
A man stands in front of an aquatically-cultured taro field in Hawaii with mountains in the background
Olin Kealoha Lagon
Social entrepreneur builds culturally grounded future leaders Full Story >
A male high school student wearing a white t-shirt sits at a table with a trifold poster board in the background detailing his garbage can platform invention.
Damian Earley
Young inventor hopes to inspire others to be environmentally friendly Full Story >
Bathed in sunshine, a young girl with a bowl-cut wearing a jeans jumper and socks, cozily curls up on a pillowy, pastel-floral window seat and reads to her doll from a book in her lap. Several additional books whose covers match the doll by her side are strewn about.
Pleasant Rowland
How Pleasant Rowland’s American Girl® helped tweens find their place in history Full Story >
Black and white photos of Henry Baker and George Washington Murray, two African American men wearing suits and ties, with a handwritten list of inventors and their patents in the background
Henry Baker and George Washington Murray
Documenting the history of Black innovation one name at a time Full Story >
Three fashionably dressed white women surrounding a desk, posing and admiring posters of Page Boy store fronts
The Frankfurt sisters
How the Frankfurt sisters used fashion to empower women in the workplace Full Story >
Three women with dark tan skin, brown hair, and long neutral-colored long sleeve tops smiling at a dinner table set with food, wine, and flowers.
Tanya Bryant
How Tanya Bryant started a family business after retirement Full Story >
Tara Astigarraga stands in front of the red and green cliffs of the Grand Canyon, smiling and facing the camera. She wears sunglasses on the top of her head and a gray and white tank top with an outline of the state of Oklahoma and the words “Choctaw” written in cursive.
Tara Astigarraga
Mentors and her first patent helped Tara, a member of the Choctaw Nation, realize her potential in STEM. Full Story >
Two employees stand side by side at a counter wearing beige aprons with the Bitty and Beau's logo. They smile at each other and link arms. Coffee machines are in the background.
Amy and Ben Wright
How two parents built a coffee franchise and a recognizable brand to show the world how to be radically inclusive. Full Story >
Daniela Blanco, a brown-haired young Latino woman, wears a white lab coat, safety glasses, and plastic gloves as she stands amid chemistry equipment in a well stocked lab. She pauses her experiment momentarily to smile at the camera.
Daniela Blanco
A chemical engineer and entrepreneur uses artificial intelligence to help others develop greener chemicals Full Story >
Two young teenagers wearing Camp Invention t-shirts in a school hallway
Mika’il and Ayaan Naqvi
How two brothers navigated their way from an idea to a business. Full Story >
With a colorful purple buzzcut, tank top, and sunglasses, scientist Natalia Bilenko smiles in the sun and heat as she works alongside others to assemble metal struts and wiring to form the sculpture “Dr.Brainlove.”
Natalia Bilenko
Natalia Bilenko’s work invites non-scientists to participate in the future direction of AI. Full Story >
In a white lab coat, Dr. Patricia Bath smiles into the camera.
Patricia Bath
How Patricia Bath, physician and inventor, made it from Harlem to the Hall of Fame Full Story >
A middle-aged woman in a silk dress sitting in a chair while examining a typewriter
Beulah Louise Henry
How Beulah Louise Henry became one of the most prolific and beloved inventors of the 20th century. Full Story >
 Gitanjali Rao presenting at a white board during the 3M competition
Gitanjali Rao
16-year old Gitanjali Rao is on a mission to create global change by building a community of young innovators. Full Story >
Lanny Smoot smiles while twisting a knob on a large machine as a Walt Disney Company employee
Lanny Smoot
With over 100 patents, Lanny Smoot turns the imaginary into reality. Full Story >
Patent #9,511,833 received by Doug Scott and students for their ROV ice rescue robot.
Doug Scott
Doug Scott shares how real-world experiences inspire students and teachers alike to tap into their curiosity and creativity. Full Story >
In typical Victorian dress, Samuel Allen poses for a formal portrait photograph.
Samuel Leeds Allen
How Samuel Leeds Allen invented and marketed an American classic, the Flexible Flyer sled. Full Story >
An older man, George Gillespie, in full military uniform with several medals, including the Medal of Honor pinned to his lapel.
George Gillespie
How George Gillespie, a Civil War veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, redesigned and patented America's highest military award. Full Story >
Debbie Sterling and two girls play with GoldieBlox on the floor.
Debbie Sterling
How Debbie Sterling challenged the status quo in the toy industry and made STEM more accessible for girls. Full Story >
Johnny Pacheco sits on cushions and faces the camera. He wears an embroidered linen shirt.
Johnny Pacheco
Johnny Pacheco founded Fania Records in 1964 and created the Latin music and dance sensation that came to be known, simply, as “salsa.” Full Story >
Audrey Sherman poses in her stairwell with the plaques she received from 3M for her patents.
Audrey Sherman
Audrey Sherman, a leading inventor of adhesives at 3M, shows what’s possible through persistence and collaboration. Full Story >
Kavita Shukla holding sheets of FreshPaper in a carton that says “fresh for all” at a farmers market in front of a table advertising FreshPaper
Kavita Shukla
Kavita Shukla has made it her mission to eliminate food waste. Full Story >
Maude Adams wearing a tunic, skirt, sash, and beads stands at three-quarters profile, framed by trees in the background, and looks off to the right.
Maude Adams
Maude Adams, the most successful American actress of the early 20th century, invented a light bulb that helped actors everywhere shine as they never had before. Full Story >
The Kinnos team poses in scrubs around the USAID logo.
How the co-founders of Kinnos learned from healthcare workers and developed a life-saving additive for disinfectants. Full Story >
Jim and Jane Henson pose with several puppets.
Jim Henson
An artist, puppeteer, and innovator, Jim Henson created the Muppets and forever changed the entertainment business. Full Story >
United States postage stamp showing the trefoil badge and Juliette Gordon Low in a Girl Scout uniform.
Juliette Gordon Low
Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girls Scouts of the USA, created a lasting organization for women’s empowerment. Full Story >
Arlyne Simon stands in front of two body scan images.
Arlyne Simon
Words of wisdom from a woman in STEM on how to encourage young innovators. Full Story >
Lex and Santiago pose on either side of a vintage letter press with framed cards in the background.
Lex Monson
Lex Monson, creator of Punkpost, delivers a new way for people to connect through handwritten greeting cards. Full Story >
Marissa Streng holds her hands out toward her dog Mojo.
Marissa Streng
Marissa Streng, inventor of the Puff-N-Fluff dog dryer, shares her experiences as a young innovator and entrepreneur. Full Story >
garrett brown sitting in middle of evolution of six chairs in white studio
Garrett Brown
How Garrett Brown’s “habit of invention” revolutionized cinematography and could launch another revolution for the mobility impaired. Full Story >
Headshot of Marian Croak
Marian Croak
Marian Croak is a pioneer in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and the inventor of text-to-donate technology. Full Story >
Sangeeta Bhatia is pictured in front of a shelf filled with bottles and other lab equipment.
Sangeeta Bhatia
Inventor and entrepreneur Sangeeta Bhatia combines engineering, medicine, and biology to study, diagnose, and treat disease. Full Story >
Portrait of Hinda Miller, Polly Smith, and Lisa Lindahl.
Hinda Miller, Polly Smith, and Lisa Lindahl
Designed to decrease discomfort for female runners, the sports bra has become an athletic necessity as well as a modern fashion staple. Full Story >
A man in a white coat works with equipment in a laboratory.
Percy Julian
A scientist makes inroads in chemistry and civil rights. Full Story >
Martine Rothblatt(excitedly jumping)  and the team from Tier one engineering proudly celebrating in front red Electric helicopter that, with the word lung written on it, huge smile, that just set  Guinesss World Record  being awarded plaque
Martine Rothblatt
How inventor and entrepreneur Martine Rothblatt learned to push past the idea of the impossible. Full Story >
Floyd Smith parachute exhibit and the accompanying virtual skydive video
Floyd Smith
How inventor and entrepreneur Floyd Smith made the skies safer for aviators. Full Story >
 Jackie Quinn examines a piece of equipment on the ground with four team members working in the background
Jackie Quinn
NASA environmental engineer Jackie Quinn and her team created an emulsion system that removes contaminants from our groundwater. Full Story >
Susann Keohane and co-worker at the IBM aging in place environment/lab with the friendly looking Multi-Purpose Eldercare Robot Assistant (IBM MERA), a first of a kind Watson-enabled application designed to aid the elderly and assist caregivers with real-time information about their health.
Susann Keohane
How an IBM Master Inventor found her special gift in the world. Full Story >
Shawn Springs holds two helmets and poses in front of a wall of helmets.
Shawn Springs
Former NFL cornerback Shawn Springs tackles a new venture: impact protection. Full Story >
A left hand rests on a tabulation machine, and a right hand picks up a card.
Herman Hollerith
How a statistician's competitive spirit laid the groundwork for the modern census. Full Story >
Jim West in a laboratory with three of his graduate students.
Jim West
Highly regarded as an acoustic scientist, inventor Jim West is also a devoted mentor and advocate of diversity in STEM. Full Story >
Bob Metcalfe holding an Ethernet cable
Bob Metcalfe
The one wire that connected us all. Full Story >
Rory Cooper  in leaned back in a racing chair on a red track, leaned down to become aerodynamic, pushing himself to win
Rory Cooper
An accident changed Rory Cooper’s life and set him on a path to improving the well-being of people with mobility impairments. Full Story >
Image: 1950s KitchenAid illustrated advertisement of a housewife and husband excitedly admiring their new dishwasher. I the top right, dishes magically float from a hospital and industrial dishwasher into their household dishwasher.
Josephine Cochrane
How Josephine Cochrane defied social norms and invented the modern dishwasher. Full Story >
Portrait of Temple Grandin
Temple Grandin
A trip to the farm changed Temple Grandin's life forever. Full Story >
Image: The Black and Decker cordless Lunar Drill operated by an astronaut on a simulated surface of moon
Carroll Gantz
How NASA's moon missions and a patented design led to a popular hand-held vacuum cleaner. Full Story >
Young founders of Agrospheres sitting casually on a couch
Payam Pourtaheri and Ameer Shakleel
For a young startup, the seeds of risk and reward were planted long ago. Full Story >
Image: Helmeted U.S. soldiers look out over the prow of a Higgens boat as it navigates crashing waves towards the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
Andrew Higgins
How a New Orleans inventor helped defeat the Nazis. Full Story >
Image: Port City® Brewing Company founders Bill and Karen Butcher in the brewery’s taproom hold six packs of some of their registered trademark beers, including, from left, Optimal® Wit, Metro Red®, Monumental® IPA, and Integral® IPA.
Bill and Karen Butcher
In a crowded marketplace, intellectual property helps customers discover new tastes. Full Story >
Image: Chemist Frances Arnold holds a beaker with yellow liquid up to the light.
Frances Arnold
Insights from the first American woman to win the Nobel prize in chemistry. Full Story >
Image: Johnson plays around with a Super Soaker® while wearing a shirt patterned with images of his famous creation.
Lonnie Johnson
How eight years of hard work led to the 'overnight success' of the Super Soaker®. Full Story >
Image: Irina Buhimschi and Cherry Murray speak on a panel at the US Capitol on empowering women
Irina Buhimschi and Cherry Murray
Two trailblazing innovators share insights on science, life in the lab, and beyond. Full Story >
Image: Crops being irrigated in the California Imperial Valley, circa 1919.
Harriet Strong
How one woman’s fortitude shaped agriculture and brought water to the American West. Full Story >
Image: Student studying at night using solar lights
Steve Katsaros
For the 1.2 billion people without electricity, one bright idea could change everything. Full Story >