Leadership Team

John Carlisle

John Carlisle, Director Chain Reaction Innovations

John Carlisle is a physicist and entrepreneur with a strong passion for translating fundamental discoveries into disruptive products.

As director of Chain Reaction Innovations, John’s focus is on supporting the next generation of innovators to move hardware-based energy technologies into applications with high societal and economic impact. CRI enables the innovator and their innovation to leverage the extensive resources within Argonne National Laboratory for two years. The long term vision is to more effectively translate high-risk technologies into the market while also enabling a new generation of entrepreneurs to create new businesses that will keep the US at the forefront of energy innovation.

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 Bradley Ullrick

Brad Ullrick, Deputy Director of Operations

Brad Ullrick is active in the energy R&D space. He leads the partner set resources for the national public-private consortium the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research. He focuses on identifying, developing, and closing patent transactions and developing and implementing go-to-market strategies.

He has worked with technology commercialization for nearly a decade. He is a registered patent attorney, and he was a Senior Attorney for Intellectual Property in Argonne’s Legal Department.

He holds a J.D. from The John Marshall Law School and a B.A. in communications and political science from Northern Illinois University.

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Tona Kunz, Marketing and Communications Manager

Tona Kunz is responsible for forging business partnerships, mentoring startup companies, and leading outreach activities.

She has been marketing R&D programs and services for a decade. She has been involved in the launch of several programs, including an energy investment startup and an angel fund. She has served as an advisor for several startups to assess market potential, develop market-entry strategies, and innovation strategies.

She is an award-winning newspaper journalist and science writer and editor. In her work with R&D facilities, she has developed product-marketing strategies, managed media relations, developed outreach programs, and overseen event coordination.

She holds an executive M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a bachelor’s in journalism and political science from the University of Missouri at Columbia. She studied technology product management and venture capital strategy in Tel Aviv. She is a University of Illinois Public Affairs Fellow.


John Aikens, Collaborations Lead

John is responsible for developing external business partnerships and collaborations on behalf of Chain Reaction Innovations.

He has over 25 years of experience in small business and has worked at all organizational levels including leading research and operational teams as well as holding founder, CEO and CTO positions. As a serial entrepreneur, John has been involved with creating four new ventures and counting including Lybradyn, Proterro, Mesodynamics, and JL Biosciences and has raised over $15 million dollars in angel and seed capital. He is an experienced executive working in the biotechnology, fine chemicals, materials science and sustainable energy industries. John has lead teams that have successfully secured non-dilutive funding including SBIR and STTR grants which lead to the commercialization of products serving the biotechnology research, fine chemical production and chemical defense markets.

For the last decade, John has provided consulting and advisory services to the venture capital community focused on technology and business diligence. In addition he has worked with startup businesses related to technology development and commercialization of technologies. John is an active inventor and has been responsible for discoveries leading to over 20 patents. He is also serves as an advisor and mentor having worked with entrepreneurs from Universities including Princeton, Northwestern, the University of California, Davis and the University of Illinois as well as Department of Energy programs including Argonne’s Chain Reaction Innovations, Lawrence Berkeley’s Cyclotron Road, and NREL’s Energy I-Corps and R2M Accelerator Programs. John is an advocate for sustainability and alternative energy having served on the La Grange Park Sustainability Commission.

John holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Irvine with postdoctoral studies in Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.

Christina Hanks, Operations Support

Christina started her tenure at Argonne within Human Resources where she held multiple roles but most recently provided talent acquisition guidance to the Mission Support Directorates. She also represented the laboratory at career fairs and continues to serve as a liaison to the laboratory’s operations functional divisions. Christina recently transitioned over to CRI to provide operational support to the CRI team and its innovators. Her diverse responsibilities include event coordination, procurement, and HR including the coordination of the rigorous selection process. She is committed to directing and increasing the efficiency of program operations. She has a B.A. in human resource management from Loyola University of Chicago and is currently pursuing her M.B.A from St. Francis University.

 Shigeta Applewhite

Shigeta Applewhite, Administrative Support

Shigeta Applewhite is the Administrative Assistant to the Chain Reaction Innovations and Argonne Design Works.

She serves as the administrative backbone to CRI by partnering with the Directors and Innovators to manage meeting schedules, conference attendance and travel, plan events. Shigeta’s diverse skill set was gained across a range of industries, including oil and gas, investment management, law, health care and education. She also independently owned and operated a licensed, in-home daycare for several years. Currently she is completing her BA in Organizational Leadership at Lewis University.


Latest News

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  • Science entrepreneurship competition with up to $420,000 award opens Sept. 5

    Building an energy or materials science technology is difficult. Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI) can help you do that by providing business planning and technical mentorship, up to $200,000 in a fellowship grant, and up to $220,000 to spend on research work at Argonne National Laboratory. Read More

  • Clean Energy Trust Challenge Accepting Applications Until Jan. 17

    The Clean Energy Trust (CET) Challenge is one of the nation’s largest fundraising events for energy tech startups. This is the eight year of the program and the third consecutive year that CET has committed to invest $1,000,000 in cleantech startups in the Midwest. The … Read More

  • World-Class Mentoring

    A key component of the Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI) program is business mentorship. In addition to the world-class scientific and technical support that CRI will provide innovators, participants will also get assistance in developing business strategies, conducting market research, and finding long-term financing and potential … Read More

  • Chain Reaction Innovation's First-Ever Cohort Features Diverse Set of Innovators and Ideas

    Applicants for CRI came from 22 states. About 50% of applicants were with startups; the rest were students, professors, postdocs or members of industry. The four recipients represent Colorado, Indiana, North Dakota and Ohio. Read More

  • First Chain Reaction Innovations cohort: Ian Hamilton

    Ian Hamilton is one of the innovators selected for the first cohort of Chain Reaction Innovations, a new two-year program that offers innovators with energy- or science-based ideas a home at Argonne National Laboratory for two years, where they’ll have time to develop and scale … Read More