Illinois Innovation Network Distributes Their First Group of Awards

Illinois Innovation Network has announced their first group of innovation awards at the Illinois State Fair’s Tech Prairie STEAM Expo. These awards went to individuals from their 15 hubs who have made advances in research, tech commercialization, and education.

The awards were presented to faculty staff or scientists from IIN in three subject areas:

  • Environment and water
  • Food and agriculture
  • Health and wellness

They also presented an award to the most impactful innovation by a team and two awards to the student innovators from IIn member universities.

The award winners were:

    • Environment & Water Category
      • Kenneth B. Anderson – director of the Advanced Coal and Energy Research Center and professor of geochemistry at SIUC
      • Anderson is in the application process of processing biomass such as agriculture wastes into high-value platform chemicals 
    • Food & Agriculture Category
      • Girish Chowdary – director of the Distributed Autonomous Systems Laboratory and Donald Biggar WIlle Faculty Fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and co-founder and CTO of EarthSense
      • EarthSense enables the creation of highly productive, resilient, sustainable crops.
    • Health and Wellness Category
      • Aadeel Akhtar – Founder of PSYONIC, based at the EnterpriseWorks incubator in the UIUC Research Park
      • Development of algorithms that make upper-limb prosthetics much more functional to use.
  • Elizabeth Gaillard – professor of chemistry and biological sciences at Northern Illinois University (NIU) who studies diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.
      • Gaillard’s research is changing the way these diseases are diagnosed and treated
    • Teams (other category)
      • SHIELD Team includes:
  • Martin Burke – the May and Ving Lee Professor for CHemical Innovation
  • Timothy Fan – professor of veterinary clinical medicine
  • Paul Hergenrother – Kenneth L. Rinehart Hr. Endowed Chair in Natural Products Chemistry and Professor of Chemistry
  • Nigel Goldenfeld – Swanlund CHair and professor of physics
  • William Sullivan – professor and director of Rokwire open-source mobile application form
  • Rebecca Lee Smith – associate professor of pathobiology
      • SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell team are developing a saliva-based COVID-19 test and mobile app to help safely reopen campuses
    • Student Category
  • Alex Kosyakov – founder of Natrion
      • Natrion is a battery R&D startup launched by Kosyakov and Tom Rouffiac
  • Nelson Fernades – founder and project manager of SIUC’s Green Roof Project
    • They transformed an existing 10-year-old urban horticulture research facility into a multidisciplinary innovation hub for experiential and experimental learning

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