Year: 2012

UA in the News: December 21, 2012

Loving Rush, with all my heart and brain
NPR – Dec. 20
Ratty jean jackets ? and pocket protectors. Chess fanatics and potheads. Greasers and nerds. How have seemingly two seemingly separate communities, with the entire empire of coolness standing between them, taken the same band to their hearts? That’s the paradox of Rush, which just won admission — finally — to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. How does the same band speak to auto mechanics and MIT grads? And why did it take so long for the Rock Hall to notice? I’m a big Rush fan. (There, I said it!) For ages, admitting that in public was like striking up a conversation with an attractive woman in a bar about, say, Dungeons and Dragons. It just wasn’t done. A 2008 article in Rolling Stone compared Rush fans to Trekkies. … Paul Horwitz teaches constitutional law at the University of Alabama. He is the author, most recently, of First Amendment Institutions (Harvard University Press).

Dance group performs annual holiday show
Tuscaloosa News – Dec. 21
The community is invited to experience the true magic of Christmas this weekend during “Christmas Holidaze in T-Town.” MJ’s Academy of Dance will present its third annual holiday show Friday and Saturday at The University of Alabama’s Moody Music Building. Complete with singing, dancing and a little bit of acting, the event will feature 300 performers, ages 2 to 21.

UA in the News: December 20, 2012

Alabama, Notre Dame to team up for Miami service project
Tuscaloosa News – Dec. 20
Alabama and Notre Dame students, alumni and faculty are putting aside their rivalry for a few hours to make a difference in a Miami community. The day before the big match up, representatives from the two universities will team up with nonprofit Roots in the City for an urban gardening project in Overtown, a city near downtown Miami, during the third Discover BCS National Championship Service Project. Volunteers will be making plant beds, painting cinder blocks, potting plants, moving soil and whatever else is needed, said Wahnee Sherman, director of UA’s Community Service Center. “Service is a great equalizer,” she said. “People can really put aside whatever their differences might be to do something positive for a community.”

UA’s 2013 Economic Outlook Conference in Montgomery set for Jan. 16
AL.com – Dec. 20
 The University of Alabama will provide folks with an opportunity to talk about what has gone right and, in perhaps most cases, wrong with the U.S. economy at its 2013 Economic Outlook Conference. The conference will look back at the past five years and the impact the recession has had on governments, businesses and organizations across Alabama, as well as fiscal uncertainty for the future as those entities plan for 2013. The conference, presented by UA’s Center for Business and Economic Research, will take place Wednesday, Jan. 16 at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa at the Convention Center. Leading experts on the U.S. and Alabama economies will review recent trends and discuss prospects for 2013, according to UA. Speakers include Dr. David Altig, executive vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and Dr. Sam Addy, director of CBER and associate dean for research and outreach in the Culverhouse College of Commerce.

Groups to show three films, one set locally
Guntersville Advertiser-Gleam – Dec. 19
The Mountain Valley Arts Council and the Guntersville Public Library will present three films by Andrew Beck Grace on Jan. 12. One of the films is about Guntersville’s Whole Backstage Theatre…A reception in honor of Grace will be held at 6:00 p.m. Jan. 11. A documentary filmmaker and native Alabamian, Mr. Grace is a past fellow at the CPB/PBS Producers Academy and directs the Documenting Justice program at the University of Alabama. The films that will be shown Jan. 12 are “Backstage,“ “The Durrs of Montgomery“ and his latest film, “Eating Alabama.“

Two Students Receive UA Away Scholarships to Study Abroad

Eric Dixon and Cori Fain, recipients of UA Away Scholarships.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama Division of Student Affairs has named two students as recipients of the spring 2013 UA Away scholarship, a scholarship initiative that supports learning opportunities for students to work, serve or study away.

The UA Away scholarship recipients are Eric Dixon of Montgomery, a senior studying management with a global business concentration who will be studying in Havana, Cuba, for the spring semester, and Cori Fain of Mount Olive, a junior majoring in international studies and Spanish who will travel to Seville, Spain, during the spring.

“We had an outstanding applicant pool for the spring 2013 UA Away scholarships and it was a tough decision, but the chosen recipients both portray a dedication to learning about different cultures and showed a direct link between their study away experience and their academic and career goals,” said Dr. Mark Nelson, vice president for student affairs and vice provost.

The main goal of the UA Away scholarship initiative is to provide students with unique learning opportunities to study in a different environment, serve others and experience on-the-job training.

Both UA Away scholarship recipients are participating in academic programs for the entire spring semester. Dixon will be participating in the UA in Cuba program. His interest in Cuban relations has led him to this opportunity where he will enroll at the University of Havana while also conducting preliminary research.

“This study abroad program will give me an unparalleled look into the economic and business environments of a country going through transition,” Dixon said, adding that he looks forward to “the knowledge and experience that will be gained by being immersed in the culture and being able to discuss topics with local business owners and citizens. This opportunity will be invaluable to my future success, not only as a student but also as a contributing member of the workforce.”

Fain is interested in the language and culture component of her semester-long study abroad program in Spain. Fain will be enrolled at the University of Seville where she will take courses in language and humanities. “This trip will benefit me immensely in multiple ways including improvement of my Spanish language comprehension skills, first-hand cultural knowledge and developing a real sense of myself as I enter a completely new and unfamiliar place,” she said. “All of these things will better prepare me to successfully approach my future goals.”

By committing their spring semester to learning about other cultures, these students exhibit global citizenship, a learning priority for the Division of Student Affairs. The UA Away scholarship initiative funds students in need of financial support to make these experiences possible.

For more information about study away and work away, explore Capstone International online at international.ua.edu. To learn about serve away opportunities, visit the Community Service Center online at volunteer.ua.edu. UA Away scholarship applications will be available again in the spring for summer and fall 2013 work, serve and study away programs on sa.ua.edu.

The Division of Student Affairs maximizes each UA student’s learning experience. Learn more about the Division of Student Affairs by visiting sa.ua.edu and connecting with Student Affairs on Facebook at facebook.com/bamastudentlife and on Twitter at twitter.com/bamastudentlife.

Economic Outlook Conference, Presented by UA, Set for Jan. 16

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The past five years have been difficult ones for governments, businesses and organizations across Alabama. The recession has been long and deep, and the recovery has been slow, with jobs, revenues and sales struggling to rebound.

Fiscal uncertainty and budget tightening at the national level adds to the challenges firms and organizations face as they gather information and make  plans for 2013.

Those concerns will be addressed at the 2013 Economic Outlook Conference, presented by The University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research, Wednesday, Jan. 16, at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa at the Convention Center. The UA center, CBER, is part of the Culverhouse College of Commerce.

Leading experts on the U.S. and Alabama economies will review recent trends and discuss prospects for 2013.

Speakers include Dr. David Altig, executive vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and Dr. Sam Addy, director of CBER and associate dean for research and outreach in the Culverhouse College of Commerce.

The luncheon keynote address, “Where have we been? Where are we going?,” will be delivered by Dr. David Bronner, chief executive officer of the Retirement Systems of Alabama.

Sponsors of the 2013 Economic Outlook Conference include the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, Alabama International Trade Center, Alabama Power, Alabama SBDC Network, BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama, Boeing, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, ServisFirst Bank, Sterne Agee, and Vulcan Materials Co.

Conference registration and information is available online at http://cber.cba.ua.edu. Registration is limited and ends Jan. 9. The conference fee of $150 includes the Alabama Economic Outlook publication, conference materials and lunch.

UA in the News: December 19, 2012

Dr. Bonner visits Montgomery to read to kindergarten students
WCOV-Fox (Montgomery) – Dec. 18
The president of the University of Alabama, Judy Bonner, makes a stop in Montgomery. Bonner visited Bear Exploration Center to read to Mrs. Brown’s kindergarten class. Bonner read the book, “George Washington’s Teeth,” and the class had a discussion about Washington’s wooden teeth. Bonner said she was invited to read to the class by a family friend, and wants to show students the importance of loving books.
WAKA-CBS (Montgomery) – Dec. 18

University of Alabama: Educated guesses for 2013
CBS 42 (Birmingham) – Dec. 19
For the 32nd consecutive year, The University of Alabama’s Office of Media Relations offers predictions from faculty experts for the coming year. While these “educated guesses” don’t always come true, our track record over the years has been good. So, what’s ahead for 2013? Look for self-driving cars in showrooms, rural hospitals to face tough choices, health care reform to bring “seven stages of grief,” and a ride over the “fiscal cliff” that won’t be as dire as some depict.

UA students and alumni to team up with students and alumni from Notre Dame for service project in Miami before BCS National Championship Game
ABC 33/40 (Birmingham) – Dec. 18
Students and alumni from the University of Alabama and the University of Notre Dame will come together to have a positive impact on the Miami community during the Discover BCS National Championship game service project. Representatives of the two universities will work together within the city on an urban gardening project aimed at promoting community development and beautification in inner-city areas.
WVUA (Tuscaloosa) – Dec. 18

Students in UA School of Business help build Habitat for Humanity house
WVUA (Tuscaloosa) – Dec. 18
Construction is nearly complete. This home is unique in two ways. It is a “blitz” home and will be complete after two weeks. “Get Jackie Home for Christmas” … the home is a result of Habitat for Humanity and the University of Alabama business school. “It’s a great present.”

Capstone Village holds Christmas party
WVUA (Tuscaloosa) – Dec. 18
The Capstone Village held a Christmas party for their community. The residents came out tonight at the student rec center… everyone mingled with family and neighbors. They also had the opportunity to take pictures.

Miss Alabama USA/Gadsden
TV24 (Oxford) – Dec. 18
A University of Alabama Graduate student from Gadsden has been crowned Miss Alabama USA for 2013.  22-year old Mary Margaret McCord was one of thirty-three young women vying for the title this year.  The 61st annual pageant was held in Montgomery last week and was McCord’s third attempt to win the crown. McCord is currently working on her Master’s Degree in Marketing at the Capstone, but will also spend some time traveling around the state as Miss Alabama USA.  She says that she hopes to spread a special message to the state’s young women. McCord will represent Alabama in the Miss USA pageant that will be held this coming summer in Las Vegas and will be televised on NBC.

Lots of unknowns with proposed defense cuts
Anniston Star – Dec. 18
Whatever plan Congress approves to reduce the country’s deficit next year will likely include some type of military cuts, defense and financial experts said this week. But exactly how those will affect the state’s defense industry remains unknown. The White House and Congress are hashing out a deficit reduction plan in lieu of the impending fiscal cliff, a general term referring to laws that will initiate $500 billion in tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts in January – including billions of dollars in military spending cuts. However, even if the fiscal cliff is adverted, an alternate plan is expected to still contain considerable defense spending cuts, financial experts say. And as local military contractors, the Anniston Army Depot and even Department of Defense officials brace for spending decreases, they and financial experts are still unsure of how those cuts might impact the defense industry … To Ahmad Ijaz, director of economic forecasting at the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama, said any cuts to military spending would be bad for the state. “Absolutely, especially in north Alabama … there are a lot of different businesses in north Alabama with defense contracts,” Ijaz said. However, Ijaz was unsure of the pain because Congress’ budget plans are still in flux. “Nobody really knows how much the cuts are going to be,” Ijaz said. Ijaz said the loss of military work and jobs would eventually be felt throughout the state’s economy. “The direct effect is it hurts the main contractor itself,” Ijaz said. “But when you lose jobs, that results in less spending and less tax revenue.”

UA professor says random mass shootings on the rise
WHEC-NBC (Rochester, NY) – Dec. 18
As the nation mourns the loss of life in Sandy Hook, the drum beat surrounding gun control is getting louder. But is it an issue of gun control, or something deeper, and much harder to legislate and control? New tonight, Don Hudson looks at the numbers, the truth about random shootings and what can be done. However, random mass shootings like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary are increasing. Let me show you something. A University of Alabama professor studied data and says in the 1980s there were 18 random mass shootings. In the 90’s there were 54. But from 2000 to 2010 there were 87. Now another question why?

Van Zee Tapped to Lead UA Chemical and Biological Engineering Department

Dr. John Van Zee

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dr. John Van Zee was named as head of the department of chemical and biological engineering at The University of Alabama College of Engineering, beginning his tenure in January 2013.

Van Zee joins the department after 28 years at the University of South Carolina, where he was a professor of chemical engineering and director of Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Fuel Cells, sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

“John Van Zee’s experience in leading USC’s fuel cell center will be invaluable as he steps forward to lead our department of chemical and biological engineering,” said Dr. Charles L. Karr, dean of the UA College of Engineering.

“Our department currently has several very talented young faculty members, a growing number of extremely bright students and wonderful new facilities. I feel that John is uniquely qualified to combine these ingredients with the storied history of the department to form a bright and exciting future – a future that will allow for national prominence.”

Van Zee has researched fuel cells with experimental and computational methods since 1996. In 2001, he began the foundation of what would become the nation’s only fuel cell center sponsored by the National Science Foundation. As director he recruited dues-paying companies to work with multiple professors and graduate students on pre-competitive research, and the Center for Fuel Cells has been a catalyst for community, state, regional, national and international collaboration.

During 2006 and 2007, Van Zee served as founding director of the Future Fuels Research Initiative, establishing international research relationships for professors and students. During 2005, he helped establish the South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance with state-wide participation from small businesses, non-profit organizations, other universities and state agencies.

He has also been heavily involved in undergraduate education and research, winning teaching awards and leading NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates programs. Also, 23 students completed their doctorates under his advisement. He served the Electrochemical Society and America Institute of Chemical Engineers, co-edited seven books, published more than 150 papers in journals and conference proceedings and produced 19 invention disclosures and three U.S. patents.

His degrees in chemical engineering include a Bachelor of Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1975 and a Master of Science and doctorate from Texas A&M University in 1982 and 1984, respectively.

In 1837, The University of Alabama became one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering classes. Today, UA’s fully accredited College of Engineering has more than 3,900 students and more than 110 faculty. In the last eight years, students in the College have been named USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, Goldwater, Hollings, Portz, Mitchell and Truman scholars.

Look for Bump in State’s GDP, Employment in 2013

For the 32nd consecutive year, The University of Alabama’s Office of Media Relations offers predictions from faculty experts for the coming year.

Alabama’s gross domestic product, the market value of goods and services produced and often considered an indicator of the state’s standard of living, should grow by about 1.5 to 2.0 percent in 2013, predicts a University of Alabama economist.

Ahmad Ijaz, an economic analyst at The University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research, says transportation equipment manufacturing, which includes auto manufacturing, will be one of the thriving industries.

“Relatively strong sales of vehicles produced in Alabama are expected to continue, albeit at a slightly slower pace than seen in 2012 or during the first half of 2012,” Ijaz says.

He also expects non-farm employment for the year to increase 1.0 to 1.5 percent, about 15,000 to 20,000 net new jobs.

“Most of the job gains will be in the leisure and hospitality industry, primarily restaurants, social assistance and other health-care services, retail trade, and transportation equipment manufacturing,” he says.

Except for the state’s automotive sector, which pays relatively high wages, most of the jobs will be added in administrative support services, social assistance and other health-care- related businesses, and food services.

One of the biggest risks to the nation’s economic growth remains Europe’s financial and debt crises, and with the European economies sliding into a deeper recession, it could have a significant impact on the U.S. economic growth, particularly the domestic manufacturing industries, says Ijaz.

With exports and business-spending no longer major drivers in the recovery, and a looming “fiscal cliff,” national growth is expected to slow to approximately 1.8 to 2.2 percent in 2013.

UA in the News: December 18, 2012

B. Joyce Stallworth tapped as UA’s associate provost for special projects
AL.com – Dec. 18
University of Alabama President Judy Bonner named B. Joyce Stallworth to the new position of associate provost for special projects, the school announced Monday. Stallworth joined the UA faculty in 1995 and has served as senior associate dean of the College of Education since 2004. In the new position, she will be involved in a variety of UA projects, including working with K-12 schools in the Black Belt region of Alabama to identify the specific needs of students in those schools, and, thereafter, to craft strategies and initiatives that will help those students become more successful, to develop new avenues to promote their success, and to coordinate University resources that will be useful in meeting the identified needs of those students.

What drives suicidal mass killers
New York Times – Dec. 18
What do Mir Aimal KansiAli Abu Kamal, Hesham Mohamed Hadayet andNidal Malik Hasan have in common with Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Seung-Hui Cho andAdam Lanza? The first four claimed to be fighting the American government’s unholy oppression of Muslims; they struck the C.I.A. headquarters, the Empire State BuildingLos Angeles International Airport and the Army base at Fort Hood, Tex., respectively. The last four seemed to be driven by personal motives; they shot up a high school, a university and an elementary school. . . . Adam Lankford, an assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Alabama, is the author of the forthcoming book “The Myth of Martyrdom: What Really Drives Suicide Bombers, Rampage Shooters, and Other Self-Destructive Killers.”
Commentary – Dec. 18

Why spree killers kill themselves
Wired magazine – Dec.18
With the Sandy Hook shooter dead, we may never fully understand why he gunned down 26 random strangers at a public school. Even when such killers have survived, their self-explanations have done little to shed new light on acts the rest of us can only grasp as psychotic. Inevitably, we are left with the bare facts of the attacks themselves to frame our understanding. Such facts may be bare. But they are far from silent. I recently conducted a study (currently in review) using binary logistic regression statistical tests and data from the 2010 NYPD report of all identity-known active shooter incidents (n=179) in the U.S. between 1966-2010. Here’s what I found: In about half of the “rampage” incidents (more than two casualties), the shooters killed innocent victims … and then committed suicide. . . . Adam Lankford is a criminal justice professor at the University of Alabama. From 2003 to 2008, he helped coordinate Anti-Terrorism Forums for high-ranking foreign military and security personnel in conjunction with the U.S. State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance program. 

UA Student News for Dec. 18, 2012

Click on http://uanews.ua.edu/student to view UA Student News on UA’s website if you have problems reading the email subscription.

DATES TO REMEMBER 

Women’s basketball vs. Virginia, Dec. 21, 2 p.m., Foster Auditorium
Men’s basketball vs. Mercer, Dec. 22, 1 p.m., Coleman Coliseum
Men’s basketball vs. Tulane, Dec. 30, 5 p.m., Coleman Coliseum
National Championship Service Project, Jan. 6, 2013, noon check-in, Miami, Fla.
National Championship Service Project, Jan. 7, 2013, 8:30 a.m. check-in, Ferguson Center Plaza
Discover BCS National Championship football game, Jan. 7, 7:30 p.m., Miami, Fla.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES 

Students can register to participate in two projects that will have a positive impact on both the communities of Miami, Fla., and Tuscaloosa prior to the Discover BCS National Championship football game between UA and Notre Dame. Students and alumni from the two universities will work together withRoots in the Cityon an urban gardening project aimed at promoting community development and beautification in inner-city areas of Miami.The service project will beSunday, Jan. 6, 2013, from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., with check-in and lunch beginning at noon.

In addition, UA students who will be in Tuscaloosa onMonday, Jan. 7, can participate in a local National Championship Service Project from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.Check-in will be at 8:30 a.m. in the Ferguson Center Plaza. Volunteers will work with Tuscaloosa County Park & Recreation Authority and the Tuscaloosa Volunteer Reception Center. For more information, contact Wahnee Sherman, UA Community Service Center, at 348-5722 or wsherman@sa.ua.edu. To register, click here.

Sitters for Service, a volunteer-based program that provides free babysitting for UA student parents, seeks more volunteers for the spring program. Participants are eligible to earn UA community-service hours. For more information and to apply online, click here. Contact Cori Perdue at cperdue@fa.ua.edu with questions.

ATHLETICS 

The Alabama Crimson Tide plays the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Jan. 7, 2013, in the Discover BCS National Championship. The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN and will be held in Sun Life Stadium in Miami. The Florida Department of Transportation encourages travelers heading to the game to use the 511 traveler-information system before hitting the road to stay up to date on crashes, congestion, construction and more. The 511 system provides information on all of Florida’s interstates, toll roads and other major metropolitan roadways, including those near the stadium such as Interstate 75, Interstate 95, Interstate 595 and the Florida Turnpike.

For traffic updates, travelers can call 511 toll free, visit http://www.fl511.com, download the 511 application on iTunes or follow 511 on Twitter.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Ferguson Center will operate under the following schedule during the holiday break: Dec. 18-21, 7 a.m.-6 p.m.; Dec. 22, 2012-Jan. 1, 2013, closed.

The Action Card Office will be moving to the Campus Drive parking deck and will open at that location Jan. 2, 2013. The office’s current location at 104 Student Services Center will remain open until Dec. 21.

Burke Dining Hall has closed for renovations and is expected to reopen Jan. 13, 2013. To view alternative on-campus dining options, visit http://www.bamadining.ua.edu.

Any student who plays a band instrument is invited to audition for the UA Campus Band. Visit http://campusband.ua.edu for more details. Seating auditions will be Jan. 14, 2013, 7-8 p.m. in 204 Moody Music Building. Rehearsals will be held every Monday, 7:30-9:30 p.m., beginning Jan. 21.

The Ferguson Center is accepting exhibit applications for Spring Semester 2013. The application can be found at http://ferguson.ua.edu/artgallery.cfm. More information: Kelli Knox-Hall at kknox-hall@sa.ua.edu.

Mokter Hossain and Dr. Jeffrey Carver in the department of computer science are conducting research to evaluate the usefulness of the new Blackboard Learn user interface at UA. This survey has been approved by UA’s Institutional Review Board. Students who have experience using Blackboard Learn or who have an opinion about the system are being sought by the researchers to participate in an online survey. The survey should take approximately 15 minutes to complete. Participants must be at least 19 years of age. Click here to access the survey. More information: Mokter Hossain at mokter@crimson.ua.edu.

EVENTS

ENGAGE U, a two-week series designed to create opportunities for student organizations to develop leadership skills, involve students, and promote new initiatives or projects, will occur Jan. 22-Feb. 1, 2013. Visit The Source at http://thesource.ua.edu for more information and to register an organization.

Always remember to check the Crimson Calendar for all the week’s events.

For athletic events, go to http://www.rolltide.com.

Submit your news at http://uanews.ua.edu/submit-student.

 

A Catalyst for Jobs

By Chris Bryant
Photos by Jeff Hanson and Bryan Hester

Over the last five years, 189 invention disclosures were submitted to UA's Office for Technology Transfer, resulting in the issuance of 68 patents (Tori Nelko).
Over the last five years, 189 invention disclosures were submitted to UA’s Office for Technology Transfer, resulting in the issuance of 68 patents (Tori Nelko).

As anyone who has picked up a newspaper – or stood in an unemployment line – knows, creating jobs in today’s economic climate is a slow-lane struggle.

“More and more pressure is being put on universities to be the engine to help propel that movement,” says Dr. Richard Swatloski, director of The University of Alabama’s Office for Technology Transfer.

UA’s OTT office, along with its Alabama Innovation and Mentoring of Entrepreneurs program, partners with faculty and staff researchers to bring technologies created at the University to the market place for public benefit. While the successful product, itself, by its very definition, brings public benefit, the potential jobs resulting from a new product or technology’s launch is, perhaps, equally important.

“We’ve got a lot of faculty who are very entrepreneurial,” Swatloski says. “It’s wide open.”

One of those entrepreneurial-minded faculty members is Dr. Martin Bakker, an associate professor of chemistry.

His research team, which also includes Franchessa Sayler, a UA graduate student serving as the team’s entrepreneurial lead, and Chris Melton, chief executive officer of White Oak Group Inc., an Atlanta-based private equity company, recently won a $50,000 National Science Foundation Innovation Corps, or I-Corps, grant.

Entrepreneurs discuss efforts to bring a new catalyst to the commercial market.
Entrepreneurs discuss efforts to bring a new catalyst to the commercial market.

The grants are designed to take discoveries made through earlier NSF-funded research projects and evaluate their potential as springboards to forming start-up companies. Bakker’s team focuses on its development of new types of catalysts – things that cause or accelerate chemical reactions.

It’s a big market. The types of catalysts Bakker’s team produces are referred to as palladium-supported on porous carbon catalysts. They make up, Bakker says, about one-third of all catalysts used in the annual $4.7 billion petrochemicals market. But, it’s also a tough market to break through. The College of Arts and Sciences’ chemist believes his team’s product has key attributes on its side.

“Our catalysts are cheaper, faster and have superior properties to those presently on the market,” he says. But, the trick to becoming commercially successful isn’t limited to only the building of a better mouse trap, he says.  And it’s those other attributes needed for a marketable success to which researchers can turn to OTT and AIME .

“For those of us who come from academic backgrounds, this commercialization process is not something we have strong backgrounds in,” Bakker says. There is a pretty steep learning curve.”

Programs like the I-Corp grant, and UA’s two aforementioned offices, can soften that curve. Here’s how:

UA researchers file their research results or inventions through OTT’s disclosure form, starting the technology-triage process. With the assistance of student teams in AIME, each technology is assessed for patentability, related technology, additional potential applications for the idea, market size and projected growth and potential barriers to market entry.

UA’s 10-member Intellectual Property Committee, chaired by Swatloski, and an independent adviser panel then prioritizes the projects. This often times leads to the development of prototypes, business plans, the filing of patents, the search for investors and sometimes the licensing of the invention to off-campus entities.

AIME can also provide lab space, as it has to Bakker, from which companies can begin incubating prior to reaching full start-up phase.

“One area that I think is really important is prototype development,” says Dr. Dan Daly, director of AIME. “Most investors will not fund something unless they put their hands on it … look at it, feel it … rather than just read about it on a piece of paper. We will try to build a working prototype of the technology … using outside firms to help us in certain areas.”

UA’s technology transfer office, along with its AIME program, partners with faculty and staff researchers to bring technologies created at UA to the market place for public benefit.
UA’s technology transfer office, along with its AIME program, partners with faculty and staff researchers to bring technologies created at UA to the market place for public benefit.

AIME can also provide an experimental design study of products – statistically controlled bench markings, where a competitor’s product is purchased and compared to the UA discovery. This was done with Bakker’s catalysts with promising results, Daly said.

“We measured the reaction rates and showed that Martin’s is actually better.”

Over the last five years, 189 invention disclosures were submitted to the Office for Technology Transfer, resulting in the issuance of 68 patents, including 13 in the U.S., and UA has 13 active licensing agreements with external entities, according to OTT statistics.

As the number of technologies – and potential new jobs – coming forth from UA laboratories grows, Swatloski, says he’s actively searching for more management mentors from outside campus who are interested in bringing their business acumen to individual technology teams.

“I’m now getting to see 30 or 40 technological breakthroughs a year from all over campus – from engineering to library sciences,” Swatloski says. “That’s exciting.”

And the potential of turning those breakthroughs into future jobs is an exciting and productive step toward shifting out of the slow-lane job struggle.