Barbara Hobart is a television writer/producer. She is also an inventor and manufacturer of custom products and is the owner of HomePlates Worldwide. (She knows this is a rather odd combination of professions, and way too long a title for a business card!)
The "manufacturing thing" started back in 1994 when Barbara was in LA puttering around her garage (what she does when she doesn't want to write) and she came up with a fun, new way to decorate light switch covers. (Back then, decorative light switchplates weren't even a thing, much less considered a tangible product.)
Then in 2003, while visiting friends in London, she offered to make them a switchplate to replace their plain, boring, white switch. She was told: “You can’t. UK switches are wired into the wall and are not removable.” Really? Well, "can’t” isn’t a word in Barbara's vocabulary. And so, a challenge became an opportunity -- and an international business:
Barbara invented and introduced the first injection-molded decorative light switch cover to the UK -- which required no rewiring and launched HomePlates across the pond. A few years later, wanting to leave no continent undecorated, in 2008, HomePlates Switch Covers were introduced to the Australian marketplace.
Since that time, Barbara has expanded her company and creates, develops, manufactures, distributes, and consults with companies large and small to help strengthen their brand identity and awareness through custom products.
Some of her clients include Laura Ashley, British Home Stores, John Lewis Department Store, Aspace, BBC America, Organic Girl, Live Nation, House of Blues, WIC, The Coca Cola Company, The Campbell's Soup Company, Blake Shelton, Netflix, Comcast, Carnival Cruises, Opry Entertainment, WIC, Dark Matter Coffee, Gifford’s Ice Cream, and many others.
One of her current brands is Best Ever Backdrops, the first lightweight, stain resistant, and 100% waterproof backdrop used by food and product photographers globally.
When Covid19 hit, she set out to create a better, safer filtration mask and is pleased to introduce The Vivi Mask™ to help save lives and protect the ones we love.
And yes, she still writes and produces for the stage and television. You can see her latest work: The Quarantine Diaries, a series which started as a fundraiser for The Actors Fund to help those in the entertainment community during Covid19.
When asked why he chose to become a scientist, Mihai often says “It choose me, I’ve always been a scientist!” He started his career around age three, taking his toys apart and building creative gizmos out of them. By high school, Mihai was a full-blown lab nerd, sneaking out of gym class and rifle practice to set up science demos for events like The Chemistry Caravan and Physics Olympics.
Mihai received a chemistry B.A. from Rutgers where he published the first synthesis of homoleptic lanthanide chalcogenolates and thermolysed them into semiconducting nano-particles.
After a year in industry studying the chemistry of C60 and other fullerenes, Mihai earned a Ph.D. in chemistry and materials science from U.C. Berkeley. His work focused on conductive polymers with applications in sensors and LEDs.
Mihai then joined Quantum Dot Corp. and was a key developer of their fluorescent biomarker technology that was based on semiconductor nano-particles. He continued along the same lines of research at Nanosys where he developed new hybrid photovoltaics based on composites of conductive polymers and nano-particles.
In 2004, Mihai started his own R&D and consulting lab, taking on an ever-changing array of materials and technology projects. He had no particular plan to become a filtration scientist, but the pandemic changed that. Relying on his particle and polymer experience, Mihai built particle test capability and launched two self-funded and volunteer-supported mask initiatives aimed at providing highly effective, reusable filtration that can be made during this time of crisis in a way that does not diminish needed medical supplies. Since November 2020, Mihai has been providing scientific consulting and particle testing for The Vivi Mask™ project, the first product to meet the above criteria and reach commercialization.