Inaugural Inventors’ Luncheon honors UMBC faculty innovators across disciplines

UMBC’s inaugural Innovators Luncheon, held November 30, 2015, celebrated faculty innovators from across the university who are forging new paths in their fields. Sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research, Office of Technology Development (OTD), Office of Institutional Advancement (OIA), and bwtech@UMBC, the event acknowledged accomplishments of UMBC Technology Catalyst Fund (TCF) and Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII) awardees.

In addition to recognizing the TCF and MII awardees, five UMBC faculty were presented with awards for outstanding initiatives in disclosing their inventions. Christopher Geddes, professor of chemistry and biochemistry and director of the Institute of Fluorescence (IOF); Fow-Sen Choa, professor of computer science and electrical engineering (CSEE); Leah Croucher, research professor in chemical, biochemical and environmental engineering (CBEE) and assistant director of the Center for Advanced Sensor Technology (CAST); and Dan Kostov, research professor in CBEE, adjunct professor in CSEE and assistant director in CAST, were recognized for having submitted over 25 invention disclosures each. Govind Rao, professor in CBEE and director of CAST, was presented with an award for over 50 invention disclosures. In addition, Ryan Robucci ’02, computer engineering, and Nilanjan Banerjee, both assistant professors in CSEE, were recognized as up-and-coming inventors at UMBC for not only advancing technology in their respective academic fields but also pursuing commercial applications of those advancements.

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Vice President for Research Karl Steiner opened the event by drawing inspiration from John Lennon’s “Imagine.” He highlighted how the entrepreneurial spirit of UMBC’s inventors enables them to develop novel, creative solutions to pressing issues in Maryland, nationally, and globally. Greg Simmons, M.P.P ’04, public policy, vice president for institutional advancement, shared Steiner’s sentiment, and emphasized the importance of supporting faculty in their work to solve society’s biggest challenges.  

University System of Maryland (USM) Chancellor Bob Caret and R. Michael Gill, secretary of commerce for the State of Maryland, also shared brief comments. Chancellor Caret compared UMBC innovators with inventors in Silicon Valleytheir innovative spirit, fresh ideas, fast work pace, and confidence they can have a major positive impact. With that vision in mind, he argued that the State of Maryland must develop “an ecosystem where we can all come together to create that level of success.” Gill challenged the inventors to wake up each morning with the determination to figure out “how to move this forward,” moving past the setbacks and challenges that each will undoubtedly encounter along the way.

For UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski, the drive to engage talented faculty from diverse backgrounds in developing solutions to the problems our world faces is essential. President Hrabowski shared how inspired he feels by “what we do on UMBC’s campus to impact people’s lives.”

Image: UMBC TCF and MII awardee Suzanne Ostrand-Rosenberg; Seven UMBC faculty were presented with awards during the Innovators Luncheon. Photos by Marlayna Demond ’11.