UNM Rainforest Innovations

On April 30, UNM Rainforest Innovations hosted its annual Innovation Awards to recognize the innovative faculty, staff, and students at the University of New Mexico (UNM) who have received issued U.S. patents, registered trademarks, and copyrights within the past year.

Between March 1, 2023, and February 29, 2024, there were 34 UNM inventors who received 27 issued U.S. patents. Of those issued patents, 18 were for technologies developed on UNM main campus, 6 patents were developed on the health sciences campus, and 3 patents that were a collaboration between UNM main campus and health sciences.

The event also recognized a UNM inventor selected as a 2023 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, Sang M. Han, PhD; the 2024 Rainforest Innovation Fellow, Mahmoud R. Taha, PhD, PE; and recognized Larry Sklar, PhD, who received the second ever UNM Rainforest Innovations Lifetime Achievement Award.

This year’s event was hosted at the Lobo Rainforest Building and welcomed nearly 130 guests to celebrate the accomplishments of this year’s awardees. There were three startup companies in attendance who displayed their technologies including Sun Safe Technology, LLC, TS-Nano, Inc., and YEEO Eco-Safe.

The keynote speaker was Donna Riley, the Jim and Ellen King Dean of Engineering and Computing, and Professor in the Gerald May Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering and additional speakers included Lisa Kuuttila, CEO & Chief Economic Development Officer at UNM Rainforest Innovations; Sandra Begay, Chair of the UNM Rainforest Innovations Board of Directors; Hengameh Raissy, Interim Vice President for Research, UNM Health Sciences Center; Ellen R. Fisher, Vice President for Research, UNM Main Campus; and lastly, the 2024 Rainforest Innovation Fellow Mahmoud R. Taha.

Inventor Honorees

The following UNM faculty, staff, and students represent departments and research/clinical inventors across main campus and health sciences campuses that reflect a strong level of collaboration. They run the gamut from first-time inventors to serial-inventors with multiple issued patents over the years.

Sarah Adams, MD

Plamen B. Atanassov, PhD

Jeffrey Brinker, PhD

Jingyue J. Cassano PhD

Bryce Chackerian, PhD

Eva Chi, PhD

Abhaya Datye, PhD

Andrew De La Riva, PhD

Vojo Deretic, PhD

Jean-Claude Diels, PhD

Nima Fathi, PhD

Daniel Feezell, PhD

Fernando Garzon, PhD

Sang M. Han, PhD

Laurie Hudson, PhD

Jonathan Hulse

Robert Kent

Mohammed Khalil

Shuang (Sean) Luan, PhD

Florencia Monge, PhD

Tudor Oprea, MD, PhD

Marios Pattichis, PhD

Jim Plusquellic, PhD

Stefan Posse, PhD

Divya Prakash, PhD

Kannan Ramaiyan, PhD

Rita Serda, PhD

Larry A. Sklar, PhD

Kyle James Troche

Lok-kun Tsui, PhD

Peter Vorobieff, PhD

Angela Wandinger-Ness, PhD

David G. Whitten, PhD

Payman Zarkesh-Ha, PhD

Rainforest Innovation Fellow

The 2024 Rainforest Innovation Fellow Award was given to Mahmoud Reda Taha, Ph.D., P.E., a Distinguished Professor and Regents’ Lecturer in the University of New Mexico’s Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering.

This award was created in 2010 to honor annually a University of New Mexico (UNM) inventor whose body of technologies has generated significant commercialization activities. Based on achievements in new technologies disclosed, patents received, license and option agreements entered into, new companies started, and income generated from these technologies, the UNM Rainforest Innovation Fellow Selection Committee evaluates and selects an Innovation Fellow.

Dr. Taha exemplifies the spirit of innovation at the university through his inventive research, entrepreneurial pursuits to commercialize his technologies, and inclination to push the boundaries of his research into new arenas in order to make positive change. He has received national and international recognition as a world-class leading researcher in the fields of polymer concrete, nanotechnology, and emerging technologies for infrastructure resilience and energy transition. He is also the CEO of TS-Nano, an ESG energy and climate tech company that manufactures nano-modified polymer to seal abandoned oil and gas wells to fight methane emissions and mitigate climate change.

Learn more about Dr. Taha’s research here: https://innovations.unm.edu/2024/04/22/mahmoud-r-taha-phd-pe-2024-rainforest-innovation-fellow/

2023 National Academy of Inventors Fellow

Dr. Sang M. Han, Regents’ Professor and Chair in the Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering (CBE) was named a 2023 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). 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. The UNM Rainforest Innovations Board of Directors nominated Dr. Han for the national honor and he was recognized at the Innovation Awards event with a commemorative plaque.

Learn more about the award and Dr. Han’s research here: https://innovations.unm.edu/2023/12/12/unm-inventor-elected-into-class-of-2023-national-academy-of-inventors/

Lifetime Achievement Innovation Award

The Rainforest Innovations Board of Directors named a new inventor at this year’s Innovation Awards ceremony to receive the second ever Lifetime Achievement Innovation Award for their outstanding achievements over the years in signal transduction, cell adhesion, leukocyte biology and high-throughput technologies for molecular assembly and drug discovery. The Lifetime Achievement Innovation Awards was presented to Larry A. Sklar, distinguished professor emeritus in the UNM School of Medicine Department of Pathology. He was also named a Rainforest Innovation Fellow in 2011 and was selected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2020.

Learn more about Dr. Larry Sklar and this recognition here: https://innovations.unm.edu/2024/05/02/lifetime-achievement-innovation-award-presented-to-larry-a-sklar/

Congratulations to all those who received awards in this year’s Innovation Awards ceremony and thank you all for attending this year’s event!

View a copy of the event program here: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/tnmyzox6tsi1cvrdcq6q6/2024-Innovation-Awards-Program-web-version-3.pdf?rlkey=z0zaqgcwviii4s3f9rdmln51c&st=4nndbac4&dl=0

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