UNM Rainforest Innovations

2020 Innovation Awards
This year it is with great sadness that we have cancelled the STC.UNM Innovation Awards in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and protect the health and well-being of our community. Instead, we have decided to hold a webinar on April 28th at 3:00 pm to honor the accomplishments of this year’s inventors. To register, please go to: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_o566CeCTRNCH8JcW-64-zg.

STC’s Innovation Awards recognizes the accomplishments of UNM inventors who have received issued U.S. patents, trademarks, and registered copyrights within the past year. Between March 1, 2019 and February 29, 2020, 57 UNM inventors received issued U.S. patents for 54 technologies. Thirty-three patents were for technologies developed on main campus; 20 patents were for technologies developed on the health sciences campus; and one patent was developed collaboratively between the campuses.

Inventor honorees will be contacted again in May to receive their award plaques and gift bags and later this year we also plan to arrange another celebration for STC’s 25th anniversary. This celebration will also honor the 2020 Innovation Fellow.

2020 STC.UNM Innovation Fellow
The Innovation Fellow award has been presented each year since 2010 by the STC.UNM Board of Directors to a faculty inventor whose body of technologies has made a significant social and economic impact on society and the marketplace.

This year we honor Dr. David G. Whitten as the 2020 Innovation Fellow. Dr. Whitten has over 50 year of experience as a scientist and an academic. He joined the University of New Mexico in 2005 and has since excelled as an inventor, disclosing 33 technologies and has received 17 issued patents. He was selected as a Distinguished Professor in 2016 and is the Associate Director for the Center for Biomedical Engineering. He also serves as Associate Editor for ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.

Dr. Eva Chi, Professor and Regents’ Lecturer at the University of New Mexico, commented, “Dave has been an incredible mentor and collaborator, and an inspiration to me as a scientist. He is humble, open, and always ready to listen and discuss, whether it’s science or life. He is also always brimming with ideas. Science to him is not just an abstract pursuit of knowledge, but how the knowledge can impact the world and real lives. In this regard, the Innovation Fellow is fitting, and well-deserved honor for Dave as it recognizes the significant social and economic impact his work has had on society and the marketplace”.

Dr. Whitten explores the mechanisms by which different compounds function and their potential application as antimicrobials. His conjugated polyelectrolyte technology combats two of the largest threats to human health and wellbeing in the 21st century; antibiotic resistant bacteria and most recently the spread of infectious disease. The emergence of these significant problems has resulted in a considerable amount of clinical research on the study of different methods of infection control practices. One of the most significant interests has been on antimicrobial surfaces for medical facilities, medical devices, and personal residences and household items. These antimicrobial compounds would be used to reduce the transmission of disease and infection spread from one organism to another through eliminating microbes.

In partnership with his students and collaborators, Dr. Whitten’s innovations and discoveries have the potential of impacting the health of our community and those all around the world. This extraordinary pursuit is just one of the many reasons Dr. Whitten has been chosen as an STC.UNM Innovation Fellow.

2019 Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors
This year, STC also honors two UNM Inventors elected as 2019 Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors; Dr. Bryce C. Chackerian, professor and vice chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology, and Dr. Davis S. Peabody, professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology. Since 2006, both inventors have worked together to construct virus-like particles (VPLs) from RNA bacteriophages and develop an innovative VLP technology platform that allows for rapid vaccine discovery.

Election to NAI Fellow status is a high professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.

Inventor Honorees
The following 57 UNM faculty, staff, and students received issued U.S. patents within the past year (March 1, 2019 and February 29, 2020). These university inventors run the gamut from first-time inventors to experienced inventors and include UNM professors, research professors, distinguished and Regents’ professors, professors emeriti, and postdoctoral students. The inventors represent departments and research/clinical centers across the main and health sciences campuses that reflect a strong level of collaboration. Several inventors are being honored for multiple issued patents.

James C. Aarestad, Ph.D. Ke Jian (Jim) Liu, Ph.D.
Ladan Arissian, Ph.D. Gabriel P. López, Ph.D.
Dorian C. Arnold, Ph.D. Shuang (Sean) Luang, Ph.D.
Plamen B. Atanassov, Ph.D. Andrea A. Mammoli, Ph.D.
Ganesh Balakrishnan, Ph.D. Anthony R. Menicucci
Kiran Bhaskar, Ph.D. Erin Milligan, Ph.D.
Edgar C. Boedeker, M.D. Abdullah Mueen, Ph.D.
Virginie Bondu Alexander Neumann, Ph.D.
Steven R.J. Brueck, Ph.D. Jeffrey P. Norenberg, Pharm.D., Ph.D.
Tione Buranda, Ph.D. Marek A. Osiński, Ph.D.
Thomas P. Caudell, Ph.D. Rong Pan, Ph.D.
Bryce C. Chackerian, Ph.D. Surojit Paul, Ph.D.
Eva Chi, Ph.D. John B. Plumley, Ph.D.
Christos Christodoulou, Ph.D. James Plusquellic, Ph.D.
Joseph Costantine, Ph.D. Eric R. Prossnitz, Ph.D.
Jean-Claude Diels, Ph.D. Geetanjali Sharma, Ph.D.
Jeremy S. Edwards, Ph.D. Daisuke (Dice) Shibata, Ph.D., L.A.T., A.T.C.
Fernando Garzon, Ph.D. Laurel O. Sillerud, Ph.D.
Steven W. Graves, Ph.D. Peter Simons, Ph.D.
Frédéric Grillot, Ph.D. Darko Stefanovic, Ph.D.
Pamela Hall, Ph.D. John Stormont, Ph.D.
Sang Eon Han, Ph.D. Mahmoud Taha, Ph.D.
Sang M. Han, Ph.D. Youssef A. Tawk, Ph.D.
Seok Jun Han, Ph.D. Graham Timmins, Ph.D.
Helen Hathaway, Ph.D. Angela Wandinger-Ness, Ph.D.
Adam Hecht, Ph.D. David G. Whitten, Ph.D.
Ivy Hurwitz, Ph.D. Yin Yang, Ph.D.
Matthew Lakin, Ph.D. Payman Zarkesh-Ha, Ph.D.
Seung-Chang Lee, Ph.D.

Congratulations again to our inventor honorees, Innovation Fellow, and NAI Fellows! Please read more about this year’s honorees in the Innovation Awards program below.


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