Update - The newsletter for the University of Memphis
More September Features:

Research aided by Fellows program
Professors introduce local election
U of M tailgaters recycle
Theatrical group
Cash builds a firm foundation
Chando sees 'different' side of U of M
Lockhart locks in honor
Wright-Savage lauded
Adopt an Angel
Names in the news


September 2010 Briefs

Washington Monthly magazine has listed the University of Memphis among the top 100 schools in its 2010 universities rankings. The U of M comes in at No. 100, right behind the State University of New York at Stony Brook and the University of Connecticut, and ahead of the University of Massachusetts, Boston University and the University of Tennessee. 

Dr. Joan Thomas, associate professor in the University of Memphis’ Loewenberg School of Nursing, has received a grant of $787,696 from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to prepare future nurse executives. The three-year award is one of the largest HRSA grants ever received at the U of M. 

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Promising U of M research aided by new Fellows program

By Greg Russell

The device is small—about the size of a penny—but can deliver millions of dollars in returns and provide a great benefit to law enforcement agencies and to consumers who have had items stolen. And thanks to a newly established Fellows program at the University of Memphis, that device, the AutoWitness tracking sensor created by U of M professor Santosh Kumar, may see the light of day.

Dr. Kumar and three other University faculty members are the beneficiaries of the newly established First Tennessee Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fellows program. It is designed to deliver critical funds to four U of M researchers who are entrepreneurial and engaged in promising research, allowing them to advance their projects into the commercial marketplace.

Gary Emmert

Robert Kozma

Santosh Kumar

Eugene Pinkhassik

Gary Emmert

Robert Kozma

Santosh Kumar

Eugene Pinkhassik

“This program will be an exciting new addition to our efforts to support innovation and entrepreneurship, while contributing to economic growth and community development,” said Julie Johnson, U of M vice president for Advancement and executive director of the University of Memphis Foundation.

Each Fellow will receive a monetary package of $22,500, which includes a $5,000 faculty stipend, a $2,500 student research stipend, $5,000 in support for business consultants and $10,000 to support costs associated with creating a proof of concept or prototype. Fellows are designated for a year and receive their stipend upon delivery of a commercialization or business plan to the University’s director of Technology Transfer.

The FedEx Institue of Technology’s Office of Technology Transfer will administer and monitor program activities, identifying mentors to provide advice and technical assistance to the Fellows.

U of M administrators sought such a program to fill a gap in funding for activities that move research beyond the lab and into the commercial area. It will aid in supporting the transition from basic and applied research to “market-ready.”

The First Tennessee Foundation is funding the initiative.

Besides Kumar, Drs. Robert Kozma, Gary Emmert and Eugene Pinkhassik have been selected for the first year of the Fellows program.

Kumar’s device not only detects thefts of items, it has a tracking component that allows police to follow the path of a stolen item. “The goal is actually to lead to the arrest of the suspect,” Kumar said.

Funds from the Fellows program will allow Kumar’s group to purchase additional hardware to enhance the product and provide for a commercialization plan for its rapid adoption by police, consumers and businesses.

Kozma, a mathematics professor, has developed an algorithm that will allow optimization of large complex systems as well as provide the capability to generate learning-based predictive models. The potential for this technology to improve efficiency and predictive capability is enormous: electric power distribution, corporate supply chains, military asset staging and deployment are a few of the potential applications for this technology.

The Fellows program funding will allow him and the FedEx Institute to hire a world-class expert in the business of complex systems optimization with the goal of analyzing the market potential and proposing an initial business model.

Emmert, associate professor of chemistry, has established one of the leading research laboratories dedicated to monitoring the quality of drinking water, a local and global issue. He has three patents pending and two invention disclosures in the process of patent application.

Pinkhassik is also an associate professor of chemistry. His research group has invented a novel method to encapsulate catalysts, which will significantly reduce the cost of manufacture for pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals. The encapsulated catalysts will also ease the environmental burden caused by heavy metal components of many modern catalysts by allowing the manufacturer to recover a greater portion of the catalysts for re-use. 

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