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From a Mid-Life Career Change to a National Medal of Innovation

Last Thursday, the White House announced this year’s National Medal of Technology and Innovation winners, which include Esther Takeuchi, professor of engineering and chemistry at University at Buffalo (UB), part of the State University of New York system. Takeuchi talked to Science Careers in October 2007, soon after she joined the UB faculty, about her decision to join the academic world after 22 years in the private sector.

Takeuchi holds 140 patents, more than any other woman in the United States. Her best known invention is the lithium/silver vanadium oxide battery used in the implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), which monitors and corrects irregular heart rhythms. More than 200,000 ICD units are in use.

Takeuchi told Science Careers in 2007 that she made the jump to the academic world in order to expand her research into new fields, and according to a UB release, that’s happening. Her research in miniature power supplies and sensors now extends to applications in storage devices for alternative energy sources, electric vehicles, and homeland security.

The National Medal of Technology and Innovation–the more applied companion of the National Medal of Science–recognizes individuals, teams, and organizations that make lasting contribution’s to the country’s competitiveness, standard of living, and quality of life through technological innovation. Takeuchi will receive the medal from President Obama at a White House ceremony on 7 October.

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