The University of Arizona (UA) hosted its ninth annual Innovation Day on March 6. The event, attended by over 300 people, celebrated the UA’s success in technology development and innovation by highlighting the research achievements of students, staff, and faculty.
Innovation Day opened with UA at the Leading Edge, which showcased the cutting edge research of leading UA faculty members. The session was chaired by Dr. Len Jessup, Dean of the Eller College of Management.
This year’s Leading Edge researchers included:
- Eric A. Betterton, Ph.D. focuses on atmospheric and environmental chemistry exploring an atmospheric model to forecast wind-blown dust from natural and man-made sources. This research supports the development of dust forecasting technology for health and traffic advisories.
- Leslie Gunatilaka, Ph.D. explores novel compounds synthesized by exotic plants from the arid zones of Asia, S. America and the Sonoran desert, and evaluates these compounds for medicinal value.
- Larry Head, Ph.D. specializes in systems and industrial engineering. His research on priority based traffic signals is working to save the lives of fire and rescue first responders.
- Sharon Megdal, Ph.D. concentrates on state and regional water resource management and policy. Her work on environmental water needs, aquifer recharge and assessment, and planning to meet future water needs of growing, semi-arid regions contributes to improved development and understanding of state water management strategies.
- James T. Schwiegerling, Ph.D. is developing a design for an accommodating intraocular lens, which behaves just like the flexible human lens in the eye, which can be used as a replacement in cataract surgery.
The celebration of University of Arizona innovation continued with the Technology Innovation Awards Luncheon, which honored an outstanding faculty member and student for their achievements in translating original ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace.
This year’s faculty Technology Innovation Award recipient is Ronald S. Weinstein, M.D. Dr. Weinstein has pursed a wide variety of projects in his medical career. He has pioneered original research in cancer diagnostics and the human-computer interface, championed the translation of his inventions into commercial products, and founded companies in the technology-based sector to market their products. Dr. Weinstein is an internationally acclaimed academic physician who invented, patented, and commercialized “telepathology” a transformational healthcare delivery system that leverages the power of broadband telecommunications. He is the founding director of the award-winning Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP).
Alexandra Armstrong, a final-year PhD candidate in Veterinary Sciences and Microbiology, received the student Technology Innovation Award. Alexandra Armstrong is a leading force in the area of preventing bacterial food borne diseases. Ms. Armstrong’s doctoral project resulted in a novel, reproducible, effective vaccine to reduce Campylobacter jejuni. The commercial potential of this vaccine is enormous.
The UA also recognized the extraordinary accomplishment of Michael Drake (1946-2011), a leader in the cosmochemistry scientific community. He was the guiding force in the Phoenix Mars Mission and the recently announced OSIRIS-Rex mission.
A special video titled “Thinking the Impossible” premiered during the luncheon and highlighted how the University of Arizona has been a global leader in scientific and technological innovation for over a hundred years.
Following the luncheon, the Innovation Showcase provided an opportunity for participants to interact with UA departments, start-up companies from the Arizona Center for Innovation, as well as get an early glimpse at the business plans of students from the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship.
The Innovation Showcase Awards recognized student teams who developed business plans from the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship at the Eller College of Management. The companies were judged on various aspects of their business presentation. The People’s Choice Award was presented to the business venture that received the most Innovation Bucks from showcase attendees. Mindful Monkee, received the People’s Choice award and $200 cash prize. Top student ventures overall were selected by a panel of judges comprised of angel investors and entrepreneurs. Two student teams won booth appeal. First place winner for booth appeal, OnwardPacks, received $250 cash prize and second place winner, Advanced Armor Applications, won $150 cash prize. Two student teams won communication and fluency awards. First place winner, MistoBox, received $250 cash prize and second place winner, Testab, won $150 cash prize.
Innovation Day at the UA was organized by the Office of University Research Parks and the Arizona Center for Innovation in partnership with the UA’s Senior Vice President for Research, UA External Relations, Office of Technology Transfer, and the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship.
Innovation Day’s title sponsor was Research Corporation for Science Advancement. Other sponsors included: Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona Tech Council, BizTucson, Hecker and Muehlebach, PLLC., Tucson Electric Power and Strategy 1.