No. 389: Inventing escalators, building a better battery, finding FarmBot – and happy birthday, RBG!

Warrior woman: Author, cancer survivor, opera aficionado, devoted wife and mother, National Women's Hall of Fame inductee, women's rights champion and Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Joan Ruth Bader Ginsburg turns 86 today.


Stretch run: Welcome to Friday, intrepid reader, and the last leg of another busy workweek.

It’s March 15 out there, and you’re already doing better than Julius Caesar, so, that’s a start.

Universal translator: Today is World Speech Day, celebrating the power of a good sermon, and the 62nd annual World Contact Day, on which extraterrestrial enthusiasts highlight international efforts to reach out and touch someone. Or something.

Et Tu Snow? Caesar, who finally had his salad tossed by a very hostile Roman Senate, isn’t the only name-you-know to surface on this date.

Enjoying more peaceful March 15s were Christopher Columbus (returned to Spain from the New World, 1493), Woodrow Wilson (held the first U.S. presidential press conference, 1913) and John Snow – not that Jon Snow … John Snow, the pioneering British epidemiologist born on this date in 1813 (more births below).

Dirigo: This is also Maine’s born-on date – the 23rd U.S. state was admitted on March 15, 1820.

Going up: Big Apple inventor Jesse Reno patented the “inclined elevator” – known better as the escalator – on this date in 1892.

Other U.S. patents issued on March 15 include 1994 recognition for California inventor William Hartman’s “apparatus for painting highway markings.”

Atomic clock: The nuclear age officially reached Long Island on this date in 1959, when the first U.S. atomic reactor built specifically for medical research – a five-megawatt, modified tank-type – reached critical mass at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Eating … well, let’s just say eating … in the neighborhood: The very first TGI Friday’s restaurant opened on this date in 1965 at First Avenue and 63rd Street in Manhattan.

True story: Hardly today’s family-friendly eatery, it was actually a swinging singles’ bar.

Comparison’s sake: He’s no Donald Trump, but seventh U.S. President Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), likened sometimes to the current officeholder for their unorthodox styles, would be 252 years old today.

Other March 15 birthday boys and girls include American Society for Horticultural Science founder Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858-1954), one-time General Foods owner Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973), American blues legend Lightnin’ Sam Hopkins (1912-1982, give yourself a treat) and trailblazing transgender author/artist Kate Bornstein (bornsteined in 1948).

The honor is ours: Take a bow, Ruth Bader Ginsburg – the salty, stately and unabashedly liberal Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, a Brooklyn native and just the second woman confirmed to the land’s highest bench, turns 86 today.

Give her honor, Lightnin’ Sam and the rest your best at Give us the story tips and calendar listings, if it pleases the court.

Act now: Before we wrap up the week, one more reminder to join us March 26 at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury for our annual Innovator of the Year Awards. Our amazing list of 2019 awardees – more than two dozen in all – awaits here, and you can still grab a seat (or sponsorship) right here. See you there!


A few words from our sponsor: Farmingdale State College is New York’s largest public college of applied science and technology and a national pioneer in environmental sustainability. With over 10,000 students, Farmingdale has Long Island’s second-largest undergraduate enrollment among four-year institutions, and offers rigorous academic programs in business, engineering technology, health sciences and liberal arts and sciences. Farmingdale also offers a master’s degree in technology management. Learn more here.



Young doctors in love: It’s a big day for aspiring medicos across Long Island and the country, as the National Resident Matching Program – a private, nonprofit, non-governmental organization – reveals where fourth-year medical students will spend their residencies over the next three to seven years.

In what’s certain to be an emotionally charged scene, 121 year-fours at Stony Brook University’s Renaissance School of Medicine will learn where they’re launching their medical careers during a freewheeling late-morning ceremony at the Health Sciences Tower. Among them: Bronx native Kazi Ullah, an aspiring gastroenterologist inspired by his own childhood pancreatitis, and native Long Islander Ali Syed, who’s matching in emergency medicine.

Expect a similarly exciting time over at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, where the fifth-ever “Match Day” in the circa-2008 medical school’s history kicks off around noon. This year, some 100 Zucker Schoolers are undergoing the traditional rite of med-school passage.

Healthy choice: Speaking of Long Island medical schools, Adelphi University’s College of Nursing and Public Health has named a new dean – Adelphi alumna and Northwell Health veteran Elaine Smith takes the reins this week.

Smith is an RN and doctor of education who earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees in nursing at Adelphi University, her MBA at Dowling College and her Ed.D. at Columbia University’s Teachers College. After serving most recently as Northwell Health’s corporate VP for nursing education, she assumes command of a circa-1943 College of Nursing and Public Health that currently boasts over 2,000 students, including 400-plus post-grads.

“Nursing is now the largest college at Adelphi, and Dr. Smith has articulated a very exciting vision for the future of the college, with renewed vision for research development and expansion of public-health programs,” Adelphi Provost and Executive Vice President Steve Everett said Thursday. “We look forward to her continued thoughtful and collaborative leadership of the college.”



Constant gardener: Meet FarmBot, an agricultural automaton designed, constructed and programmed by Long Island middle-schoolers, who might wind up feeding the world.

Batteries included: If New York is truly to become carbon-neutral, battery power-storage systems will play a big part – and NYSERDA wants them done right.

Lifetime struggle: Garden City-based home-goods distributor Lifetime Brands notched some impressive fourth-quarter sales, but still posted a down fiscal year.



Mentoring New York marks its 15th Long Island conference, regional rainmakers trumpet Farmingdale State’s new science building and legendary inventor James Powell is still floating his Maglev solution.



Innovate LI’s inbox overrunneth with inspirational ideas from all North American corners. This week’s brightest out-of-town innovations:

From Kansas: Pittsburg-based Pitsco Education launches the world’s first hands-on coding and robotics continuum for K-12 classrooms.

From Utah: An Indiegogo campaign announces the first “natural pain management” product from Lehi-based NeuropathyLinen – innovative bed linens promoting healthier sleep.

From Massachusetts: Hadley-based biz-simulation software specialist Knowledge Matters hosts an online competition for collegians studying hospitality and tourism.



+ Richard Braunstein has been appointed senior vice president and executive director of Northwell Health’s ophthalmology service line. He previously served as the vice president of ophthalmology services and executive director of the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital.

+ Dominick Gadaleta has been named chairman of surgery for Southside Hospital in Bayshore. He previously served as director of surgery at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset.

+ Don DeCrosta has been appointed chairman of anesthesiology for Southside Hospital in Bayshore. He previously served as chief resident at New York University Medical Center in Manhattan.

+ Joseph Brees has joined Uniondale-based Sahn Ward Coschignano PLLC as an associate, concentrating his practice in litigation and appeals, including commercial and corporate litigation and real estate law and transactions.

+ Gillian Gordon has been hired as executive director of Sag Harbor Cinema. She’s a former executive of Harmony Pictures in Los Angeles and a former director of graduate studies at Royal Holloway, University of London.

+ Joseph Carofano has been named senior vice president for strategy and chief marketing officer for Rockville Centre-based Catholic Health Services. He previously served as vice president for marketing, communications, planning and strategy at Western Connecticut Health Network.

+ Deputy Suffolk County Executive Jon Kaiman has been named president of the Board of Directors at Great Neck-based Gold Coast Arts Center.



Cabbage shmabbage: Can the corned beef – Food & Wine serves up nine traditional Irish dishes to keep your holiday legit.

Wearin’ of the … blue? Yep, and a few other things you probably didn’t know about St. Patrick’s Day, courtesy of Mental Floss.

Bright ideas: With the luck of the Irish ensuring sunshine both Saturday and Sunday, Newsday lines up a weekend’s worth of holiday activities.

Make your own luck: You don’t need a four-leaf clover at Farmingdale State College, where the new master’s degree in technology management and other innovations help create the best you (and for less than a pot of gold).