This year’s Lemelson-MIT Prize, which rewards inventors who improve the world through technological invention, has gone to pioneering nanotech scientist Angela Belcher. Dr. Belcher was inspired during her graduate work by the abalone, which is able to manufacture an incredibly hard shell by directing the organization of inorganic materials using its biological machinery. Following her studies on how the abalone accomplishes this process, she realized that other organisms and biological materials could be “evolved” to manufature components for electronics and solar cells. Based on these inventions, Dr. Belcher has co-founded two companies, Cambrios Technologies (involved in producing transparent coatings and electronics) and Siluria Technologies (relating to nanowire catalysts that convert natural gas to plastics, fuel, and chemicals). She intends to use some of the Lemelson-MIT Prize funds on programs designed to get children more interested in science and technology at an early age. She is named as an inventor on a number of US patents.