John A. Rogers is best known for his significant contributions to the science and technology industry through his healthcare inventions that better integrate with the human body. For his ingenious accomplishments in a variety of fields, Rogers was awarded the $500K Lemelson-MIT Prize in 2011.
Rogers grew up in Sugar Land, Texas. His father was a geophysicist and his mother, a poet. Growing up, he spent time catching different kinds of animals in the bayous near his home. He was fascinated by the complex computers his father worked on for his job, which helped spark an interest in technology. He later earned an Eagle Scout badge after building an elaborate locker facility for the pool in his community. He finished high school early and then worked in his father’s office where he used machines to send out sound waves to try and detect oil.
Rogers received Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of Texas, Austin in physics and chemistry. He also holds dual master’s degrees in physics and chemistry and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Rogers received a MacArthur Fellowship, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and selected as one of the Top 100 Young Innovators for the 21st Century by MIT’s Technology Review.
Rogers has seamlessly integrated science and technology throughout his career, always focusing on practical applications. He developed an innovative form of electronics that better integrate with the human body. These electronics are known as biointegrated because they are small, flexible and curved and help scientists explore areas in the body. These specially shaped devices make it much easier to monitor and map our curved internal organs, giving doctors the ability to more clearly observe electrical activity within the body.
Using his findings from his flexible, bio-integrated electronics, Rogers’ interests led him to research sustainable energy. He has done work with solar energy, developing tiny solar cells which act as semiconductors of electricity. This technology can be used for large-scale, high-efficiency utility power generation.
Rogers served as the director of the National Science Foundation’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center from 2009-2012, where he managed student-driven programs that spanned every aspect of science, technology, engineering and math education, from summer day camps to research experiences for undergraduates.
Rogers’ interdisciplinary interests and his ability to meet various societal needs make him one of the most prolific inventors in the country. He holds more than 80 patents and has cofounded companies such as Active Impulse Systems, Semprius, MC10, and CoolEdge. Rogers is currently working at Northwestern University as the Louis Simpson and Kimberly Querrey Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Neurological Surgery.