UNM Rainforest Innovations

2022 Innovation Awards

UNM Rainforest Innovations hosted its nineteenth annual Innovation Awards on Tuesday, April 26. This annual event recognizes the accomplishments of University of New Mexico (UNM) inventors who have received issued U.S. patents, registered trademarks, and copyrights within the past year. Between March 1, 2021 and February 28, 2022, 44 UNM inventors received issued U.S. patents for 39 technologies and 1 copyright. Of those patents, 32 patents and 1 copyright were for technologies developed on main campus, 5 were for technologies developed on the health sciences campus, and 2 patents were a collaboration between UNM main campus and health sciences.

Inventor Honorees

The following UNM faculty, staff, and students 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.



2022 Rainforest Innovation Fellow

The 2022 Rainforest Innovation Fellow this year is Dr. Jeremy S. Edwards, distinguished professor and chair of the Chemistry & Chemical Biology Department and a member of the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center since 2005. The UNM Rainforest Innovations Board of Directors presents this special award each year to a university faculty inventor whose body of technologies have made a significant social and economic impact on society and the marketplace.

Harnessing his knowledge of biology, chemistry, and engineering, Dr. Edwards drives science forward through his research activity and innovative technologies. During his graduate work, he was the first person to take genome sequence information and develop predictive mathematical models of bacteria metabolism. Around this time, it cost approximately $1 million to sequence the genome of a bacteria and $1 billion to sequence a human genome. The work accomplished by Jeremy and others has substantially reduced the cost of sequencing a human genome down to just a few hundred dollars. DNA sequencing technology has the potential to significantly and substantially impact health care, both directly by providing diagnostic and prognostic markers for the clinical setting, and indirectly by accelerating the pace of basic and clinical biomedical research.

2021 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

This year, UNM Rainforest Innovations also honors a UNM inventor elected as a 2021 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), Dr. David G. Whitten, distinguished professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and associate director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering.

Election to NAI Fellow status is one of the highest professional distinctions 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.

Dr. Whitten is recognized for his novel coating technology using cationic conjugated polyelectrolytes (CPEs) which combat two of the largest threats to human health and well-being in the 21st century: antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the spread of infectious disease. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, disinfection of workplaces, houses, restaurants, schools, and airplanes is crucial to stop the spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). Disinfectants have helped keep the world from experiencing even worse scenarios and saved many lives.


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

Link to official program: 2022 Innovation Awards Program 

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