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Business Incubator Honors Faculty Innovation

TechColumbus, a technology business incubator, honored several College of Engineering faculty members and partners at its 2010 Innovation Awards.

Joseph Heremans, a professor of mechanical engineering, was named Inventor of the Year for his research and invention of high-efficiency thermoelectric materials for energy solutions.


Joseph HeremansMechanical engineering professor Joseph Heremans, named Inventor of the Year by TechColumbus, uses a cryostat to test thermoelectric power.TechColumbus also presented Gail Wheatley, executive director of EdHeads, with the Innovation in Non-Profit Service Delivery award. EdHeads, a nonprofit educational Web site developer, provides free educational activities to schools and families with an Internet connection. The College of Engineering partnered with Wheatley to develop some activities on the Web site.His research is centered on thermal transport properties of solids and nanostructures aimed at developing thermoelectric materials with improved efficiency for both electrical power generation and heat pumping applications. A decade of research in his group and others led to improved efficiencies through a reduction of the thermal conductivity by adding nanostructures to thermoelectric materials. Since 2005, however, Heremans has focused on developing bulk thermoelectric materials in which efficiency is increased because of the chemical bonds of the materials.

“The College of Engineering is very proud of the innovative spirit of our faculty members,” says Randy Moses, the College of Engineering’s associate dean for research. “The college’s partnership with TechColumbus has really benefited us in our ability to move ideas from the research laboratory to commercialization and economic development for the Central Ohio region.”

Additional College of Engineering faculty members were nominees in these categories:

Inventor of the Year:

  • Jeffrey Chalmers (finalist), professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and director of the Analytical Cytometry Core at the Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center, for his research in bioprocessing with applications in biotechnology and medicine. He holds eight patents in the area of magnetic cell separation; his latest technology will help identify circulating tumor cells in cancer patients.
  • Ali Keyhani, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Mechatraonics Green Energy Systems Laboratory, for his research in areas of power electronics, multi-level converters, power systems control, alternative energy systems, wind farm, fuel cells, photovoltaic cells, micro-turbines, distributed generation systems, parameter estimation and control of electromechanical systems.
  • John Lannutti, associate professor of materials science and engineering, for his work developing 3-D nanofiber models to help understand migrating brain cancer cells, the mechanisms underlying their motility and chemotherapeutic resistance.
  • Jessica Winter, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and biomedical engineering, for her invention of coatings that mimic the brain’s physical and chemical structure and improve interfacing with neural prostheses.
  • David Woods, professor, and Alexander Morison, a recent doctoral graduate, both of integrated systems engineering, for their Perspective Browser & Controller, which allows users to control a sensor network simply by looking.

Green Innovation:Yebo Li, assistant professor of food, agricultural and biological engineering at Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, Ohio, for his research and development of innovative processes that substantially reduce the production cost of sustainable energy and bio-based products.

Outstanding Woman in Technology: Cynthia J. Roberts, head of Vision Optimization LLC and chair of research in ophthalmology and professor of ophthalmology and biomedical engineering, for her work solving problems in ophthalmology through the use of existing technology in new ways, better understanding of data produced by current technology, as well as the development of new technology to allow measurement of quantities not previously possible in living tissue.

TechColumbus works with entrepreneurs, large and small businesses, the public sector, venture funds, academic institutions and research organizations to promote and advance technology-driven growth in Central Ohio.