Transforming Science and Technology with Pathfinder Innovation Projects

By Kevin Kuhn

graphic: a man and woman hold up beakers under the sentence"pathfinder innovation presents: meet the innovatorsSix years ago, I was 2300 miles from home when I received a call from my wife telling me that my baby daughter was about to be born two months early. By the time I landed at home in DC, my daughter was born weighing just under four pounds—small but strong.

At the time, I was too focused on my daughter to see the amazing technology in the hospital that made all the difference: from the tiny tools to the constantly beeping machines keeping track of her vitals.

Leaps forward in science and technology, like those in the hospital that kept my daughter healthy and strong, are important. This is why I care so much about innovation and why I work hard to support EPA scientists foster their big ideas. These ideas, if nurtured, could help develop solutions to our most pressing human health and environmental challenges.

Just a few months after my daughter was born, EPA launched the Pathfinder Innovation Projects competition. By providing funding and time, this internal competition provides EPA scientists the opportunity to be creative and take a chance on their most game-changing ideas. Over the last five years, we have supported 55 amazing projects. Learn more about these projects here.

EPA just announced the sixth cycle of the competition, so our scientists can apply for the opportunity to pursue their most transformative and unconventional ideas. In celebration of another year of Pathfinder Innovation Projects, we’re going to highlight successful projects that have truly embodied the culture of innovation at EPA.

In the upcoming weeks, look out for blogs from these amazing EPA scientists. These will include projects such as modeling the human microbiome for behavioral studies using zebrafish, improving methods for monitoring cardiovascular health, and many more!

These scientists have worked tirelessly to make their best ideas come to life, and I love seeing their research get the attention it deserves.

About the Author: Kevin Kuhn is an advisor to the Chief Innovation Officer in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development and manages the Pathfinder Innovation Projects – a competition that provides seed funding for EPA research scientists to pursue high-risk, high-reward research. Learn more about EPA Innovation at: https://www.epa.gov/innovation.

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