Tucson Ariz. – On April 25, 2016, Tech Launch Arizona held its third annual awards event at the University of Arizona Museum of Art. The I-Squared Awards for Innovation and Impact honored those whose work directly affects the quality of life for people in Tucson, across Arizona and throughout the world through research, collaboration and innovation – key elements in the University’s land-grant mission and Never Settle strategic plan.
Tech Launch Arizona, a presidential cabinet-level office of the University of Arizona, creates social and economic impact through bringing the inventions stemming from UA research from the lab to the world.
In her comments, President Hart reminded the audience of the UA’s commitment to applying new knowledge to today’s major challenges and questions and the importance of moving that knowledge out into the world.
“I was so very pleased to take part in TLA’s 3rd annual awards event,” she said. “The UA and its partners are doing amazing work to advance research and its application to new products, businesses, and industry. We are proud to recognize the dedication and talent of the innovators who are helping to create new knowledge and apply it to meet the challenges that we all face. I am incredibly proud of the impact that the UA has, and the honorees from Monday night are among the University’s best in creating that impact.”
As in previous years, honors were given to individuals and teams in eight categories. Six awards were given to UA faculty/researchers/staff who have demonstrated excellence as inventors and effective Tech Launch Arizona partners. These were:
- I2 Award for Chemistry and Physical Sciences – Given to Jeffrey Pyun, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Science. Pyun’s research interests focus on the synthesis, self-assembly, characterization and device evaluation of novel polymers, nanoparticles, nanocomposites and thin films. He collaborates closely with TLA on identifying, protecting and licensing inventions stemming from his research.
- I2 Award for Biomedicine – Given to Laurence Hurley, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the College of Pharmacy. Hurley is the Howard Schaeffer Chair in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Arizona. He has been at the UA since 2000, where he has served as Associate Director of the BIO5 Collaborative Research Institute(link is external) and Co-Director of the Molecular Therapeutics Program at the Arizona Cancer Center. Hurley was the discoverer and developer, with Cylene Pharmaceuticals, of Quarfloxin, the first-in-class G-quadruplex-interactive molecule that reached phase 2 clinical trials. He is the scientific founder and CEO of UA startup TetraGene, a biotech company that focuses on targeting secondary DNA structures to modulate expression of undruggable targets.
- I2 Award for Information Technology – Given to Joseph Valacich, Ph.D., Professor of MIS at the Eller College of Management. Based on his research and expertise in cyber security, deception and fraud detection, Valacich has worked with TLA to start a new company, Neuro-ID, to commercialize a technology that helps clients better manage risk by identifying potential deception in online forms and questionnaires.
- I2 Award for Engineering – Given to Dominic Gervasio, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering. Gervasio has over 25 years of experience in academia and industry in electrochemistry involving the making and application of new materials for ion conduction, homogeneous, heterogeneous and electrode catalysis, hydrogen storage and generation, super-capacitors, batteries, fuel cells and corrosion. Don joined the UA in 2009. His research focuses on new materials and their stability and corrosion properties for concentrated solar power (CSP); electrolytes for DC power supplies such as fuel cells, batteries and capacitors; and non-platinum catalysts for conventional and bio fuel cells. Most recently, Gervasio has worked with TLA on two startup companies, MetOxs and Caltrode.
- I2 Award for Agriculture and Life Sciences – Given to Bibiana Law, Ph.D., Associate Research Professor, School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Law’s research focuses on the vaccination of animals to reduce transmission of foodborne pathogens; vaccination of animals against diseases; and Campylobacter and Salmonella in the environment and foods. With others, she has developed a vaccine to reduce Campylobacter in chickens, and is also working on a vaccine to prevent dysentery in swine. She co-founded Anivax, a UA startup formulated to commercialize the Campylobacter vaccine.
- I2 Award for Campus Collaboration – Given to the UA Office of the General Counsel. Key team individuals recognized for their contributions and outstanding collaborative efforts with TLA include Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel Laura Todd Johnson, Associate General Counsel Heather Gaines, and Associate General Counsel Anne Stratman.
Two award categories recognized contributions from outside the UA. They were:
- I2 Award for Industry and Corporate Partnership – Recognizing a select company/business who has demonstrated excellence in collaborating to forward the TLA mission. This award was given to Manny Teran(link is external), President of Aztera, a product development and automated test company focused on mechanical, electrical, software optical and Biosystems engineering. A UA alumnus, Teran has built a successful career as a sales executive and entrepreneur. His corporate experience ranges from startups to Fortune 500 companies, and he has given generously of his time and expertise as a member of TLA’s Commercialization Network as well as holding a position on its Advisory Board.
- I2 Award for Ecosystem Impact – Recognizing an individual community leader who has a demonstrated commitment and has proven to be effective in bringing the surrounding communities of Tucson and Arizona to bear on the TLA mission. This award was given to Lawrence Hecker(link is external), Managing Partner, Hecker PLLC. Hecker received both his Bachelor of Arts degree (1969) and his Juris Doctor (1972) from the University of Arizona. He was on the Board of the Arizona Department of Transportation from 1979 through 1983, serving as Chairman in his last year, and was Chief of Staff to Governor Bruce Babbitt from 1983 through 1984. He has served as Chairman of the Securities Regulations Section of the State Bar of Arizona, and is a member of the Securities Regulations and Business Law Sections of the State Bar of Arizona. Hecker is an Assistant Adjunct Professor at the University of Arizona, College of Law teaching law and entrepreneurship. Hecker is a frequent TLA collaborator and a vocal champion for commercialization in the community.
“As much as it is at is a pleasure working with UA inventors and business and technology leaders in the broader community,” says Vice Preident Allen, “it is particularly rewarding working with the recipients of the I-Squared Awards. These folks represent both excellence and exceptional partnership qualities.”