Provost’s Project on Innovation: Stories of Creativity, Insight and Discovery at Johns Hopkins University
From the proximity fuse that helped the Allies win World War II to the first “blue baby” operation that opened the way to modern heart surgery, Johns Hopkins University boasts a history and culture of innovation and discovery.
To celebrate and support this culture, the Office of the Provost has launched the Provost’s Project on Innovation to spotlight Johns Hopkins faculty who are on discovery’s frontline. New profiles will be added throughout the year and will feature wide-ranging conversations with innovative thinkers from every division.
Professor, Assistant Dean of Education, and Director of Neuro-Education Initiative at the School of Education
Krieger-Eisenhower Professor and STScI Scientist, 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics
Adam Riess understands the power of focus. He tells a story about coming up with a great idea while swimming laps, noting almost parenthetically that it came to him in that seemingly inauspicious setting “because I just am always thinking about, How do we measure distances in the universe?”
Richard and Elizabeth Case Professor and Chair of Jazz Studies at the Peabody Institute
Gary Thomas is one of the world’s leading jazz musicians. But before the age of 14, Gary had never been exposed to the saxophone, or to music in general. How did he go from a beginner to a master musician? By practicing.
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering
As a boy, Noah Cowan spent countless hours learning how to flip, spin, and juggle a hammer—an unrelenting focus on detail that he says is probably a necessary prerequisite for truly innovative work.
Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Anthropology
Veena Das believes nurturing good ideas is not unlike raising children—they do best when given time to develop and room to grow. She prefers to take the long, slow, hard look at things that she says ultimately leads to real insight.
Assistant Director for Science and Technology, Applied Physics Laboraroty
Over 40 years at one of our nation’s most innovative laboratories has taught Jerry Krill that innovative ideas must be nurtured along the path from ludicrous to obvious.
Harry (Hal) Dietz
Victor A. McKusick Professor of Genetics and Medicine
Frustrated that he could do little to relieve the suffering of his patients with Marfan Syndrome, Hal Dietz set off down a path of finding answers—of understanding why. This drive and passion for discovery has changed lives.
Musicology Faculty, Peabody Institute
To understand the innovative music of Bach, Andrew Talle took up residence in Leipizig. What he learned there was not quite what he expected.
Professor of Nursing and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
Innovation comes when old habits give way to new ideas, and in the realm of educational effectiveness Pamela Jeffries has been leading the way.
Harvey M. Meyerhoff Professor of Bioethics and Medicine
For Jeremy Sugarman, innovation is not just for developing new gadgets and gizmos but for creating models to grapple with some of the thorniest issues in bioethics.
Herschel and Ruth Seder Professor of Biomedical Engineering
When asked, Michael Miller professes not to be good at solving the big, well-known problems. What he’s good at, he says, is connecting the dots. His dots are your own human brain and a world atlas of all human brain possibilities.
James F. Fries Professor of Medicine
When Lisa Cooper moved to Baltimore after growing up in Liberia, what she saw was surprisingly familiar to her—the problems faced by patients living in both places were essentially the same. To understand the roots of the disparities she observed in health care, she had to look beneath the surface.
Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School
James Calvin grew up in a family of automotive workers, but instead of focusing on spark plugs and transmissions, he was fascinated by geodesic domes. That made all the difference.
Associate Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science
Science and philosophy may seem like strange bedfellows, but they’ve been together for centuries. Through innovation, Steven Gross helps to keep that marriage fresh.
Charles J. Limb
Associate Professor of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery and Peabody Adjunct Faculty
Charles Limb likes to tackle life’s big issues, which, for him, revolve around the nexus of music and medicine. What he is discovering about the source of creativity is changing the way we view the brain.
Professor of History
In exploring medieval manuscripts, Gabrielle Spiegel found meaning beyond the words themselves. What she found has opened up a new understanding of medieval history.
Professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
When an unknown “contaminant” kept popping up in Peter Agre’s lab experiments, he followed his curiosity and discovered aquaporins, the long-sought pathways for water transport through cell membranes. That unanticipated find catapulted him to the pinnacle of science.
CEO, Orca TV, LLC, and Johns Hopkins University, Class of 2008
Young entrepreneur Rajiv Shenoy understands the value of calculated risk—and is more concerned about complacency than failure. By successfully creating campus communication networks, he doesn’t need to worry about either.
Professor and Director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education
Robert Slavin has a novel approach to education reform: “good science.” He spends a great deal of time advocating that “evidence should matter” in education—and that’s not an easy sell.
Alfred (Al) Sommer
Professor and Dean Emeritus of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Ignoring colleagues who warned that he was destroying his career, Al Sommer chose to do “what seemed most important and most interesting at the time.” Those choices led to influential public health discoveries—and worldwide recognition.
Provost’s Speech on Innovation
The Three C’s of Innovation: Combination, Collaboration, and Chance
June 7, 2011, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory