2009 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize Finalist
A graduate student in Applied Mathematics and Genomics in the Health Sciences and Technology Division of Harvard and MIT, Erez Lieberman’s interests span the theoretical and applied sciences.
Lieberman is the lead inventor of the iShoe, an intelligent shoe insole that can provide valuable information regarding a person’s sense of balance. The inspiration for the iShoe arose when, as an undergraduate, Lieberman ran a program that organized students to visit a nursing home. During his visits, he took notice of the importance of mobility to a person’s self-esteem—particularly in elderly populations. This observation motivated him to find a reliable method to determine whether a person’s sense of balance was deteriorating. The iShoe, which uses an artificial intelligence system to enable early diagnosis of poor balance, can help adults avoid falls before they occur. Now, as the CEO of iShoe, Lieberman is conducting the first clinical trials of the iShoe in people, including NASA astronauts.
In addition to being an inventor, Lieberman has done work spanning the theoretical sciences. In 2007, he authored a paper, published on the cover of Nature, which showed that the emergence of linguistic rules over the centuries follows an inverse-square principle--the first clear proof that natural selection applies to the evolution of language. Working together with Martin Nowak and Christoph Hauert, Erez discovered evolutionary graph theory, a novel approach to population genetics. Evolutionary graph theory has since become a widely-used approach for unraveling the effects of structure on Darwinian evolution.
As an undergraduate, Lieberman studied mathematics, physics and philosophy at Princeton University. Prior to enrolling in his Ph.D. program, he spent a year at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he studied mathematics while earning a master's degree in history from Yeshiva University. In his free time, Lieberman is an avid modern artist. His work has appeared in galleries across the United States and Europe. He has co-authored two books, The Apollo Prophecies and City of Salt; the latter was named one of PhotoEye's “Best Books of 2006.”