Today we’re highlighting Dan Lieberman, a mechanical engineer and project lead at the Intellectual Ventures Laboratory. Dan’s background in the science of explosions gives him the unique ability to distill complex problems to their core elements and solve them in a quick and meaningful way.
On his background:
“As a student in college, I gained a lot of experience in McGill University’s Shock Wave Physics Lab. That’s actually where I began my journey studying the science of rockets. After that, I earned my PhD at Caltech in the Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories. I carried out several high-speed-chemical-reacting-flow projects including researching novel methods to ignite detonations in a Pulse Detonation Engine (basically a supersonic combustion equivalent to the V-1 “buzz bomb”).
“My early career involved trying to avoid explosions, instead of my previous experience harnessing them. I’d describe it as CSI but it takes more than 42 minutes to figure out what happened. I investigated all sorts of incidents that resulted in a fire or explosion including the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.”
On what led him to IV:
“I remember first reading about the Intellectual Ventures Laboratory in Freakonomics and being drawn to the type of work and the unique business approach. It wasn’t until a few years later, when I was thinking about a career shift that they came back into focus and somewhat haphazardly popped up on a web search. I’m glad things worked out because working at IV Lab and living in the Pacific Northwest has been a very enjoyable and stimulating experience so far!”
On what he does at IV Lab:
“I have the enjoyable task of trying to improve lives in the developing world with technology. Most of my effort is spent identifying problems that merit a technical response and then going about trying to solve them. Right now I’m co-leading an effort to improve artificial insemination outcomes of dairy cattle (check out the blog post). I’m also looking at technology approaches to help increase the availability of oxygen to children with pneumonia – the leading cause of death for children under five.”
On what inspires him most about his work:
“Nothing inspires me more than a bunch of problems that need solving. And boy do we have plenty of those! I also love the broad range of skills we have in house and how, like a set of golf clubs, they can be used together to produce a result no single one can do. For the record – I don’t golf so that may not be true but you get my point. IV Lab is a very motivating environment; I dare say it is FUN!”
If you’d like to learn more about Dan and his work at IV, check out the Lab’s original interview.
Want to hear from other innovative scientists and inventors? Check out our Behind the Breakthrough series.