Jessica O. Matthews (left) and Julia Silverman are the recipients of the Harvard Foundation 2012 Scientist of the Year Award. Photo courtesy of Unchartered Play Inc.

Campus & Community

Matthews, Silverman are Scientists of the Year

2 min read

Honored by Harvard Foundation on March 30

The Harvard Foundation will present the 2012 Scientist of the Year Award to Jessica O. Matthews ’10 and Julia Silverman ’10, co-founders of Uncharted Play Inc. and inventors of SOCCKET, at this year’s annual Albert Einstein Science Conference: Advancing Minorities and Women in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics on March 30. Matthews and Silverman will be honored for their outstanding scientific contributions in creating a soccer ball (also known as SOCCKET) that stores kinetic energy and can then be used to generate electricity to light homes in impoverished areas around the world.

Matthews and Silverman founded Uncharted Play Inc. in May 2011 to harness fun in finding solutions to challenges facing our global society. They first conceptualized their trademark invention, the SOCCKET, in 2008 as juniors at Harvard College when they were enrolled in an engineering course. Since then, SOCCKET has garnered extensive awards and praise for its innovative means of creating social change, and Matthews and Silverman have truly demonstrated that play and social activism can go hand in hand.

“We are delighted to welcome Ms. Jessica O. Matthews and Ms. Julia Silverman back to Harvard University as our 2012 Scientists of the Year,” said S. Allen Counter, director of the Harvard Foundation. “We honor their outstanding contributions to promoting universal educational opportunities through their company, Uncharted Play Inc., and believe that they will be a great inspiration to both our students here at Harvard and to the visiting students from the local public schools attending our annual science conference.”

The Scientist of the Year Honorary Luncheon will be held at noon on March 30 in the Pforzheimer House Hastings Room, where Matthews and Silverman will be presented with the Harvard Foundation Medal for Science. The Harvard Foundation Albert Einstein Science Conference will continue on Saturday, when grade school and high school students from Boston and Cambridge public schools will visit for a day of fun science education, with experiments and lectures conducted by Harvard faculty and students. This “Partners in Science” segment will take place in the Science Center from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Annual Albert Einstein Science Conference is designed to encourage young women and minority students to pursue careers in the academic sciences, and supports the Harvard Foundation’s mission to further promote intercultural and interracial relations.