Inaugural UCI Innovator Awards Ceremony Recognizes Distinguished Researchers and Inventors

Announcement
June 19, 2018 By Hai Truong

Held at the Cove @ UCI, the inaugural UCI Innovator Awards celebrated researchers and faculty across the campus who are working actively to promote the commercialization of university intellectual property.

With generous support from the Beall Family Foundation, UCI Applied Innovation created this award series to recognize UCI’s researchers who contribute to commercialization efforts that include invention disclosures filed, patents applied for and/or received, technologies licensed, and startup companies formed. These activities also back regional economic development in support of UCI’s mission to make a positive human impact.

“Creating these awards to recognize excellence in research, innovation and entrepreneurism across the campus has been a goal for Applied Innovation,” said Richard Sudek, campus chief innovation officer and executive director of Applied Innovation. “We are grateful to the Beall Family Foundation for supporting not only these awards but also supporting our drive toward a bigger vision for the region.”

Award categories included Emerging Innovation/Early Career Innovator of the Year, Entrepreneurial Leader of the Year and Innovator of the Year. There was also a surprise award for Lifetime Achievement. Nominations were submitted by deans and leaders of special research programs and were reviewed by a selection committee comprised of a balanced panel of experienced leaders actively involved in the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Nominees for each award category include:

Emerging Innovation / Early Career Innovator of the Year:
These distinguished innovators have demonstrated excellence in the early stage of their career through a combined effort in outstanding research and innovation.

  • Shane Ardo, assistant professor, Ph.D., chemistry – School of Physical Sciences
  • Alon Gorodetsky, associate professor, Ph.D., chemistry – Samueli School of Engineering
  • Milton Greenberg, assistant adjunct professor, Ph.D., biomedical sciences – School of Medicine
  • Joseph Rinehart, associate clinical professor, M.D. – School of Medicine

Entrepreneurial Leader of the Year:
These distinguished innovators have demonstrated an enterprising spirit and drive by taking one or more significant innovations developed within the university to market-readiness and also provided inspiration and empowerment to others to adopt entrepreneurism.

  • Kyriacos Athanasiou, distinguished professor, Ph.D., biomedical engineering – Samueli School of Engineering
  • Elliot Botvinick, associate professor, Ph.D., bioengineering- Samueli School of Engineering/ Beckman Laser Institute
  • Michael Demetriou, professor, Ph.D., M.D. – School of Medicine
  • Tony Givargis, professor, Ph.D. – Donald Bren School of ICS
  • Peter Kaiser, professor and chair, Ph.D., biological chemistry – School of Medicine
  • Michelle Khine, professor, Ph.D., biomedical engineering – Samueli School of Engineering
  • Jeff Krichmar, professor, Ph.D., computational science and informatics – School of Social Sciences
  • Gregory Weiss, professor, Ph.D., chemical biology – School of Physical Sciences / School of Biological Sciences

Innovator of the Year:
These distinguished innovators have demonstrated excellence by developing a breakthrough idea, process, or technology and demonstrated its transformational potential to improve lives and create economic value.

  • Kyriacos Athanasiou, distinguished professor, Ph.D., biomedical engineering – Samueli School of Engineering
  • Elliot Botvinick, associate professor, Ph.D., bioengineering – Samueli School of Engineering / Beckman Laser Institute
  • Philip Collins, professor, Ph.D., physics – School of Physical Sciences
  • Michael Franz, chancellor’s professor, DSc – Donald Bren School of ICS / Samueli School of Engineering
  • Christopher Hughes, professor and chair, Ph.D. – UCI School of Biological Sciences / Samueli School of Engineering
  • Michael Lee, professor, Ph.D., psychology – Department of Cognitive Sciences, School of Social Sciences
  • Daniele Piomelli, professor, Ph.D., M.D. – School of Medicine

“We know the potential of UCI and the surrounding community is growing rapidly through the efforts of UCI Applied Innovation, and are excited to continue working together to build an ecosystem that accelerates this growth,” said Ken Beall, founding board member of UCI Applied Innovation and representative of the Beall Family Foundation.

In addition to the final trophy award for each category, all nominees received a certificate of recognition from the offices of Assembly Member Matthew Harper, State Senator John Moorlach and Congresswoman Mimi Walters.

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Enrique Lavernia was also in attendance to announce the winner of each category.

“UCI is making a global impact through interdisciplinary collaboration that advances research, technology, and business,” said Lavernia. “All the nominees and award recipients are excellent representatives of the best UCI has to offer in innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Award recipients for each category include:

Emerging Innovation / Early Career Innovator of the Year:
Alon Gorodetsky, associate professor, Ph.D., – Samueli School of Engineering

His research area is at the intersection of physics, chemistry, biology, and materials science, using a multidisciplinary approach to design, synthesize, and characterize biologically inspired materials for applications in unconventional electronic devices.

Entrepreneurial Leader of the Year:
Gregory Weiss, professor, Ph.D., chemical biology – School of Physical Sciences

His research area includes the atoms, bonds, and molecules that make life possible, inventing tools to dissect how biomolecules work, and also develop technologies to control, improve, and fix them.

Innovator of the Year:
Michael Franz, chancellor’s professor, DSc – Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences

His research area includes software optimization, cybersecurity and software infrastructure.

The nominations across the board were very strong, very impressive and reflect why UCI is a leading research institution. The selection committee had a very difficult time choosing just one person to represent each award. As a result, the selection committee established a special award, the Lifetime Achievement award, to recognize a body of work and long-standing commitment to innovation and entrepreneurial activity.

Lifetime Achievement:
Kyriacos Athanasiou, distinguished professor, Ph.D., biomedical engineering – Henry Samueli School of Engineering

Athanasiou has spent his career inventing biomimetic tissue for treating damaged knees, jaws, hips, shoulders and other joints. Along the way, Athanasiou has become an authority on translating engineering innovations into commercially available medical instruments and devices.

The Innovator Awards will be an annual celebration of UCI’s innovators and entrepreneurial leaders, as well as a means to encourage everyone who has an idea or a discovery to take advantage of the support and programs available through UCI Applied Innovation to help bring those ideas to the marketplace.

To view a video recap of the UCI Innovator Awards, visit our Indi video library at https://indi.com/9fpf6.