Virginia Tech inventors who contributed to the innovation ecosystem last year by disclosing 169 new innovations, executed 30 new license agreements with commercial partners, and created 10 new start-up companies, were honored at the second annual Celebrating Innovation event, on April 24.

Hosted by Research and Innovation and LINK+LICENSE+LAUNCH, Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation Dan Sui welcomed attendees and researchers to the event.

“Every day you [researchers] are living UT Prosim (That I May Serve), assembling around big ideas and problems that matter, searching for elegant and impactful solutions that make a difference for people everywhere. As a modern land-grant university, we serve our communities in many ways. And, economic development has become an important part of our charter,” Sui said.

Following Sui, Brandy Salmon, associate vice president for Innovation and Partnerships, further emphasized Virginia Tech researchers’ accomplishments that included innovative methods for cancer detection, cutting-edge cyber solutions, and advanced manufacturing technologies.

The robust and growing innovation ecosystem at Virginia Tech is supported by the Innovation and Partnership office, comprising three centers, LINK + LICENSE + LAUNCH, dedicated to supporting all aspects of corporate and foundation partnerships including research collaborations, corporate giving, technology commercialization and start-ups.  

Throughout the evening researchers were acknowledged and celebrated for their contributions.

Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke presented National Academy member and University Distinguished Professor X.J Meng with the Lifetime Achievement Innovator award.

Lifetime Achievement Innovator

Meng’s 20-plus year tenure at Virginia Tech includes several successful commercial endeavors. Leading the Meng Lab, the world-renowned researcher’s work focuses on emerging and reemerging viral diseases that impact veterinary and human public health. Meng is widely considered one of the world’s leading scientists in hepatitis E virus, porcine circovirus type 2, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus, and porcine epidemic diarrhea virus. With 22 awarded patents and approximately $53 million in research grant awards to his name, Meng embodies the synergy between academic research and innovation.

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Commercialization Champions

The category recognizes Virginia Tech faculty members who embody the spirit of innovation and have played an outstanding role in supporting technology translation through technology licensing.  

Edwin Barnes, professor of physics, is unlocking the potential of quantum science and technology to revolutionize computing.

Jonathan B. Boreyko, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is harnessing renewable water from foggy winds to solve water shortages applications for arid regions.

Brook Kennedy, associate professor of industrial design, is using human-centered design to solve societal, economic,and environmental challenges.

Edward Fox, professor of computer science, is making knowledge accessible with improved computational searches and extensible digital libraries and information systems.

Guoliang Liu, associate professor of chemistry, is impacting the world's growing pollution problem by synthesizing polymers to advance plastic recycling.

Aaron Noble, professor and department head of mining and minerals, is improving the environment and the economy by unlocking unconventional sources of essential raw materials cleaning the environment.

Nicholas Santonio, assistant professor of plant and environmental sciences, is advancing genotyping and phenotyping technologies to accelerate genetic improvement of wheat and barley.

Abby Whittington, associate professor of materials science engineering, is focused on improving patient health while providing more sustainable materials for dental and medical applications.

Joell Eifert, director of the Food Innovation Program, is advancing innovative food processing and safety for the food business and food entrepreneurs.

Brian Wiersema, pilot plant manager, is improving the science and business of bringing a food product to the market. Together, Joell and Brian launched the university licensed Hokie ice cream.

Start-up Builders

The category celebrates inspiring Virginia Tech researchers who are visionaries, pursuing start-ups that have potential for societal and economic impact.

Masoud Agah, the Virginia Microelectronics Consortium Professor, is pioneering chip and semiconductor design with far reaching impacts across many sectors and technologies.

Alan Asbeck, associate professor of mechanical engineering, is revolutionizing how human-assisted devices, like exoskeletons, work with the body to restore mobility.

Rafael Davalos, the L. Preston Wade Professor, is saving lives through innovative cancer detection and treatment.

Reza Ovissipour, associate professor of food, science, and technology, is developing novel food production systems through cellular agriculture to enhance sustainability, resiliency, and public health.

Mark Williams, assistant professor of plant and environmental sciences, is developing microbial bio-fertilizers to reduce the need for environmentally damaging synthetic-fertilizers in agriculture.

2023 National Academy of Inventors

The National Academy of Inventors recognizes and encourages inventors with patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, enhances the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourages the disclosure of intellectual property, educates and mentors innovative students, and translates the inventions of its members to benefit society.

Rafael Davalos, fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, is saving lives through innovative cancer detection and treatment.

Roe-Hoan Yoon, fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, is promoting the environment and economy through clean coal technology.

Rob Gourdie, senior member of the National Academy of Inventors, is pioneering new drug targets and methods for heart and reparative medicine.

By Example

The award recognizes inventors who are advancing game changing technologies that are or hold the potential to make a significant human impact.

Oumar Barry, associate professor of mechanical engineering, is finding new ways to safeguard the aging power line infrastructure by monitoring the effects of vibration with autonomous robots.

Stefan Duma, the Harry Wyatt Professor of Engineering and executive director of the Virginia Tech Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, is protecting against injury by advancing research in automobile safety, military impact and sports concussions.

Carla Finkielstein, professor of biological sciences, is revolutionizing point-of-care testing to improve the management of emerging infectious diseases.

Wencai Zhang, assistant professor of mining and minerals engineering, is developing technologies to secure supplies of critical minerals vital for clean energy transition.

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