Jon Schull

Meet Jon Schull, Associate Professor, Innovator and Inventor

Jon Schull

Jon’s Topics of Expertise

  • Digital and social design for collaboration and innovation.
  • Intellectual property and the ecology of ideas
  • Active Transportation Planning and the emerging Rochester Multiversity
  • Teaching and Learning Innovation and Invention



A biological psychologist, entrepreneur, community organizer, and director of RIT’s Center for Student Innovation, Jon Schull has successfully implemented planning, problem solving, creativity, and innovation processes and projects in a variety of teams and organizations. Author of 14 patents and scores of scholarly articles, Prof. Schull is an internationally recognized innovator in intellectual property protection, information commerce, intelligence in biological and artificial systems, active transportation and sustainability, and the facilitation of multi-disciplinary collaboration via technology and mentoring.

Schull has delivered speeches at industry events, lectured at universities, and spoken to smaller groups on a variety of topics, electronic publishing, biological and cultural evolution, active transportation planning, the teaching and learning of innovation, and emerging technologies for collaboration.


Between 1975-1980, Schull received two coveted fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health and earned a Ph.D. in biological psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. During his subsequent twelve years on the faculty of Haverford College, he co-founded the General Evolution Research Group, and edited World Futures: the Journal of General Evolution. In addition to having appeared on NBC’s Prime Time Live for work on dolphin cognition, Schull wrote numerous articles related to the evolution and spread of adaptive knowledge and behavior, including: “Are Species Intelligent” (Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1990), and several articles with William James, the great American psychologist and philosopher.

In the early 90’s, Schull’s work on biological psychology converged with his work on data visualization. He invented and patented a ground-breaking system for the viral-marketing and sale of copyright-protected, copy-encouraged digital goods. He subsequently gave up tenure and founded two of the earliest web-based internet companies. The site, “Downtown Anywhere” was dubbed “one of the internet’s must-see sites” in Ventana Publishing’s 1996 book, Walking the World Wide Web. The company, was a 75 person public company that helped launch Stephen King’s seminal e-book “Riding the Bullet” during the Great Ebook Boom of March 2000.

When the internet bubble burst in 2001, DigitalGoods closed its doors. Schull helped negotiate the sale of the company’s patent portfolio to a Fortune 100 company and began his third career at Rochester Institute of Technology, where he develops software and does research on tele-collaboration technologies, teaches a course called Innovation and Invention, and helps run RIT’s Center for Student Innovation. An ardent proponent of social as well as technological innovation, Schull’s current interests include active transportation planning, and the design of socio-technical systems for innovation.

Jon’s Links

  1. Intellectual property and the ecology of ideas.
  2. Active Transportation Planning and the emerging Rochester Multiversity.
  3. Teaching and Learning Innovation and Invention

To invite Jon to speak to your organization or group, please fill out the Speaker Inquiry Request Form.