SIS Spotlight

683 1024 Arlyne Simon, PhD | Biochemical Engineer. Author. Inventor. Entrepreneur.

Meet Dr. Arlyne Simon!

Arlyne is a biomedical engineer, inventor, author, and entrepreneur with three medical device patents. In 2012, she invented a blood test that detects when cancer patients reject a bone marrow transplant. Currently, she works as a Systems Engineer at Intel. Alongside a cross-disciplinary team of mechanical, electrical, and chemical engineers, she is helping design the next-generation supercomputer.

Throughout her engineering career, Arlyne faced a lack of diversity as she was often the only female or person of color on her project teams. This inspired her to write the children’s book, “Abby Invents Unbreakable Crayons”, to encourage more children of color to pursue STEAM careers. In the book, a young girl, named Abby, invents the world’s first unbreakable crayons. Her journey demystifies the patenting process and includes activities for readers to design their own unbreakable crayons.

When asked about her book, Arlyne said, “If I can inspire just one child to pursue STEAM that means I have helped improve STEAM’s diversity numbers. I want little brown girls to know that they, too, can be inventors. That’s why I made Abby improve the design of something that all kids are familiar with – CRAYONS!

Most recently, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) honored Arlyne as a female innovator. The  National Inventors Hall of Fame also recognized her with a feature in their 2017 Women’s History Month Exhibit in Alexandria, VA.

Our Interview

SIS: You’re very multifaceted, which area has been your favorite to work in?

Arlyne: Hands down – my role as a Global Health PEPFAR Fellow! PEPFAR stands for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief. As a PEPFAR Fellow, I traveled to Kenya TWICE to train clinical lab technologists in biosafety, quality management and equipment validation. This experience [highlighted] the clinical impact of my engineering degree; I helped improve the quality of HIV/AIDS diagnoses in two labs. What’s more, I learned to speak basic Swahili and the locals named me Kemunto!

SIS: Why do you think it’s important that women/people of color pursue innovation in their careers?

Arlyne: We have a responsibility to solve the medical, socioeconomic and tech challenges that predominantly affect us and our communities. Uterine fibroid treatment, pregnancy mortality prevention and skin tone recognition in wearables are just a few areas where innovation is needed. Toni Morrison said, “if there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I think this applies to technology, too. As women and minorities, if there’s a technology that we want to use, but it hasn’t been invented yet, then we must invent it.

SIS: Any advice for new innovators looking to patent their work?sistas in stem, arlyne simon, abby invents, inventor, biomedical engineer, women in stem, black women in stem, stempowered women

Arlyne: Certainly! Recently, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) spearheaded a Patent Pro Bono Program to make patenting more affordable to independent inventors. Filing a provisional patent also helps lower patent costs and allows the inventor up to 12 months to promote his/her invention commercially as “patent-pending.” With a provisional patent, the inventor can speak publicly about the invention without the fear that his/her invention will be stolen by others. When writing the patent application, focus on clearly articulating the problem that the invention is solving. Highlight at least one to three advantages that the invention has compared to existing technology. Lastly, have a lawyer review and edit your patent application before submitting.

SIS: What contribution do you want to make in life to help empower women and girls in STEM?

Arlyne: I want to continue writing books that paint women and girls as extraordinary because we are. I want Abby Invents to inspire girls of color to become inventors. I certainly never had that dream when I was a little girl. In fact, it wasn’t until graduate school that I realized I could be an inventor. Girls do not need to wait until adulthood to dream that dream. The earlier girls dream those big dreams, the greater the manifestation of their dreams.

Click here to buy your copy of Abby Invents Unbreakable Crayons on Amazon!

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