I-Squared Awards Honor Impact, Innovation

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Tech Launch Arizona's third annual awards event honored those whose work directly affects the quality of life through research, collaboration and innovation - key elements in the University of Arizona's land-grant mission and Never Settle strategic plan. The I-Squared Awards for Innovation and Impact were held at the UA Museum of Art on Monday.

Tech Launch Arizona, a presidential cabinet-level office of the UA, creates social and economic impact through bringing the inventions stemming from University research from the lab to the world.

David Allen, vice president of Tech Launch Arizona, emceed the event, and UA President Ann Weaver Hart offered her congratulations and helped present the awards.

In her comments, 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 third annual awards event," Hart 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 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 and staff who have demonstrated excellence as inventors and effective Tech Launch Arizona partners. These were:

  • I2 Award for Chemistry and Physical Sciences – Jeffrey Pyun, 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 with TLA on identifying, protecting and licensing inventions stemming from his research.
  • I2 Award for Biomedicine – Laurence Hurley, professor, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the College of Pharmacy. Hurley is the Howard Schaeffer Chair in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the UA. He has been at the UA since 2000, serving as associate director of the BIO5 Collaborative Research Institute 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 – Joseph Valacich, professor of Management Information Systems at the Eller College of Management. Based on his research and expertise in cybersecurity, 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 – Dominic Gervasio, professor in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering. Gervasio has more than 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; and batteries and fuel cells. He 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 & Life SciencesBibiana Law, 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 food-borne 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.

Read the rest of this April 26, 2016 UA News article here: https://uanews.arizona.edu/story/isquared-awards-honor-impact-innovation