Liang-Shih Fan, Jessica Winter, and Qussai Marashdeh named 2012 Innovators of the Year

Dr. Caroline Whitacre and Brian Cummings congratulate the 2012 Innovators of the Year – Qussai Marashdeh, Jessica Winter, and Lian-Shih (L.S.) Fan. Photo courtesy of Kevin Fitzsimons

As Ohio State continues to expand its role in the commercialization of research, it is important that we create an environment that facilitates and rewards research creativity and entrepreneurship. To support and stimulate entrepreneurial activity among our researchers, three university-wide awards were presented on October 11, 2012, to our most successful faculty, staff, and student entrepreneurs.

Innovator of the Year: Liang-Shih (L.S.) Fan

Dr. Liang-Shih (L.S.) Fan

The 2012 Innovator of the Year is Dr. Liang-Shih (L.S.) Fan, Distinguished University Professor and C. John Easton Professor of Engineering, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Dr. Fan’s creativity, inventiveness, and original contributions to energy conversion, environmental engineering, and particle technology have made and will continue to make significant impacts on energy utilization and global climate change within the U.S. and throughout the world. He is a leading international authority in particle technology and its application for fossil energy conversion.

Fan holds 34 patents, has significant IP licensing activity, and has received nearly $20 million in funding from governmental agencies and the private sector to demonstrate and commercialize his technologies. He has developed alternative energy conversion technologies from the concept stage to successful demonstration in pilot scale units and commercialization.

A panel of experts assembled by the U.S. Department of Energy considers his technologies to be “transformational.” His chemical looping process is the only one being developed that is able to directly perform both combustion and gasification. Shell, Air Products and Chemicals, Babcock and Wilcox, and CONSOL Energy have teamed up with his research group to commercialize his chemical looping technologies for synthetic liquid fuels, H2, and electricity production.

L.S. Fan (left) aims to achieve clean energy production by converting coal and/or biomass into electricity and/or hydrogen while efficiently capturing the CO2.

His Electric Capacitance Volume-Technology (ECVT) launched Tech4Imaging LLC in 2010, a start-up company whose sales have already surpassed $1 million. ECVT, which is is being used by DOE, NASA, and universities and industries throughout the world, allows researchers to record three-dimensional scans of the gases and solids that mix inside boilers and other industrial processing reactors.

Fan is currently researching the chemical looping process for natural gas conversion to syngas or liquid fuels with Bio2Electric and the potential of solar chemical looping – a renewable process – with DOE’s National Renewable Laboratory and the University of Colorado. His ultimate goal is to license and develop American-born technologies to spur economic growth, energy independence, and clean energy.

Early Career Innovator of the Year: Jessica Winter

Dr. Jessica Winter

The 2012 Early Career Innovator of the Year is Dr. Jessica Winter, associate professor, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Her research focuses on the applications of nanotechnology in medicine, an area of research that has led to substantial innovations with potential for commercialization. She is working to develop and commercialize next generation illumination and detection nanoparticles to supplant inferior products currently on the market.

Since joining Ohio State in 2006, Winter has authored seven invention disclosures, three provisional patents, one full U.S. patent, and over 30 peer-reviewed journal articles, proceedings, and book chapters.

She is the founder of Core Quantum Technologies (CQT). Under her leadership, the company has amassed over $320,000 in external funding since January 2012. CQT won first place in the 2012 Ohio State University Business Plan Competition in the Fisher College of Business.

REU intern guided by Professor Jessica Winter.

Jessica participated in the National Science Foundation’s highly competitive Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program to translate CQT technology from the bench to commercialization. The I-Corps program broadens the impact of NSF-funded basic research projects and provides classroom instruction on the formation of start-up companies and guidance from established entrepreneurs. She also received funding from the Ohio Third Frontier’s Technology Innovation Start-up Program.

The technology upon which CQT is based groups nanoparticles together in self-assembled structures known as micelles. The initial focus of her research was applied to semiconductor nanoparticle quantum dots to yield a platform technology known as the MultiDot. MultiDot provides increased brightness and stability compared to the quantum dots currently available. The technology could enable multiple breakthrough technologies in personal health test kits, solar cells, LED bulbs, and medical diagnostics. The technology is in production at the lab scale. Many companies have already expressed interest in licensing the technology, and early adopters are in line to make first purchases.

Student Innovator of the Year: Qussai Marashdeh

Qussai Marashdeh

The 2012 Student Innovator of the Year is Qussai Marashdeh, a senior research associate in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Qussai received an MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Ohio State. In 2012, he received his Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Qussai has revolutionized the field of capacitance tomography – an innovative imaging technique that has the potential to revolutionize the energy, aerospace, chemical, and healthcare industries. He was involved in every stage of the development and commercialization of Electrical Capacitance Volume Tomography (ECVT). Applications for ECVT include power-plant operations, combustion imaging, and multi-phase flow systems.

He is co-founder, president, and CEO of Tech4Imaging LLC, an Ohio State spin-off company. He holds two patents, both of which have been licensed to Tech4Imaging. With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, Tech4Imaging developed and installed an ECVT system at the National Energy Technology Laboratory. The company’s first sale was to an Australian university.

Dr. Qussai Marashdeh (left ) and Dr. L.S. Fan (right) explain the ECVT model to DOE’s Assistant Secretary of Fossil Energy Chuck McConnell (center) at Ohio State’s Clean Coal Research Facility.

The Innovator of the Year and Early Career Innovator of the Year awards recognize Ohio State researchers who are working actively to promote commercialization of university intellectual property, through invention disclosures filed, patents applied for and/or received, technologies licensed, or spin-off companies formed. These activities support economic development in the Central Ohio region, and serve to attract companies that create a base of operations within the state. The creation of separate categories for more established researchers and for early career researchers allows cultivation of an entrepreneurial spirit among all of our investigators.

The Student Innovator of the Year award recognizes innovation and entrepreneurship among our students that has contributed to the development or commercialization of a new technology.