Tim Fairley-Wax is the CEO of Aquora Biosystems, a spinout from the University of Michigan focused on revolutionizing biofilm filtration to drastically reduce cost and improve efficiency of waste treatment. He currently co-manages two DOE-funded projects with $4.5 million dedicated to developing patented dynamic membrane filtration technology for improved treatment of municipal wastewater, food waste, and sewage sludge. He is simultaneously leading the commercialization of this technology through Aquora, focusing efforts on near-term, high growth markets such as dairy manure treatment. In summer 2022, he led Aquora to be one of six national finalists in the CleanTech Open pitch competition.
Alexis Peña is a material innovator with over 10 years of experience in tissue engineering and biomaterials. She completed her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in May 2023. She trained in the lab of Dr. Jennifer Elisseeff at the Translational Tissue Engineering Center where they target the immune system to make healthy tissues. Alexis’ doctoral research focused on characterizing human cell/tissue therapies and biomaterials for musculoskeletal injuries and disease. She led the Phase 2 clinical testing for an off-the-shelf, ECM-based biomaterial for soft tissue reconstruction by managing the manufacturing of the tissue biologic product, conducting the laboratory analysis of clinical samples, and supporting the biomaterial technology’s regulatory and grant documentation (IRB, HRPO, FDA, DoD). She has developed standardized operating procedures for her work and helped secure government funding for her translational research, an NSF-GRFP, and a DoD CTA to advance the clinical evaluation of biomaterial technology. Peña has 3 years of technology transfer experience through her internship at Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures on the Corporate Partnerships team. To date, she has co-authored 9 publications spanning regenerative medicine strategies and in vitro cell platforms to ultimately provide tissue engineering and regenerative medicine solutions. Peña will apply her expertise in manufacturing and tissue engineering strategies to innovate materials for the textile industry.
Rawand Rasheed is a Ph.D. candidate and a research fellow for the Department of Energy at Rice University. He holds several patents and has over five years of experience at NASA, where he served as a Life Support Systems Engineer. His work on filtration has been published in a top 5 percent journal and forms the basis of his company, Helix Earth Technologies. He is also an active member of Rice’s inaugural cohort of innovation fellows, where he is honing his business and entrepreneurship skills. He recently won first place at the Napier Rice Launch Challenge for his company.
Laura Stoy is an experienced entrepreneur, inventor, and scientist passionate about onshoring critical mineral supply chains. She earned a B.A. in Chemistry from Vanderbilt University and a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she developed a now patent-pending rare earth element recovery technology. She founded Rivalia Chemical Co. to commercialize that technology and completed Energy Techstars in Birmingham, Alabama, in the fall of 2022. Prior to founding the company, she worked for the Environmental Protection Agency and with the Federation of American Scientists on critical mineral supply chains.
Ryan Hackler is a Ph.D. chemist with 10 years of research experience across various projects in the fields of aerospace engineering, surface science, catalysis, and polymer science. He earned aB.S. in Chemistry and B.A. in Politics/Philosophy/Economics from Western Washington University in 2014, and aPh.D.in Chemistry from Northwestern University in 2019. Since acquiring hisPh.D., hedeveloped and pioneered the catalytic technology responsible for converting plastic waste into higher value products while at Argonne National Laboratory.
Robert Kennedy isa catalytic and solid-state chemist, driven to create novel solutions to real-world challenges, with over ten years of experience developing chemistry technologies for polymer waste upcycling and biofuels. He studied Chemistry with a concentration in Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Carleton College and earned a Ph.D.in Inorganic Chemistry at Northwestern University for catalytic selectivity through metal-oxide interfaces. While a postdoc at Argonne National Laboratory, hewas honored with the Impact Argonne Award for Innovation in 2019 and the PSE Excellence Award in 2020 for hiswork on catalytic upcycling of polymers.
Chris Nicholas is Co-Founder and President of Låkril Technologies. Prior to founding Låkril, he spent 15 years at Honeywell UOPin technical and managerial roles primarily focused on inventing and catalytically testing new materials and processes. Particular fociinclude heterogeneous catalytic processes such as olefin oligomerization and alkylation, synthesis of inorganic materials (primarilymetal oxides and zeolites), process engineering, molecular adsorption, and olefin metathesis. For this work, he was awarded the 2020 Herman Pines Award in Catalysis.Nicholas earned a Bachelor of Arts from Kalamazoo College and a Ph.D. at Northwestern University. He is a 25-year ACS Member and an AIChE Senior member who is an inventor on more than 115 U.S. and foreign patents. He is the co-author of 30+ peer-reviewed journal articles and a book chapter.
Joanne Rodriguez is the Founder & CEO of Mycocycle, which employs applied mycology to remove toxins from waste and create new biobased material inputs. Addressing the decarbonization of the waste management sector, she started the company with the goal of improving recycling rates of construction and demolition debris.
Prior to founding Mycocycle, Rodriguez was Director of Sustainability for a major manufacturer of building materials, headed an environmental consulting firm and continues to be recognized as a sustainability leader in the construction products industry. She is a specialist in technologies like the circular economy, biomimicry and green chemistry, and has decades of experience leading cross-divisional sales and technical teams to success.
Michelle Ruiz is the CEO and co-founder of Hyfé Foods. She is a chemical engineer with 10 years of manufacturing experience with Exxon Mobil and has bioengineering expertise in wastewater treatment. Michelle has designed and implemented processes that reduce water pollution, managed a $5M sales territory, and started up a $250M refinery capital investment.
Michelle holds a B.S.in chemical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. She founded Hyfé Foods in response to her mother’s diagnosis of pre-diabetes. She was frustrated with how difficult it is to avoid refined carbohydrates in foods. It makes disease prevention nearly impossible. To fix that, she decided to use bioengineering to make food that is good for people and the planet.
Sean Sullivan pursued his undergraduate and master’s degrees in Materials Engineering at Purdue University (in 2012 and 2013, respectively). During a stint working at Toyota R&D, he gained an appreciation for the role cutting-edge materials physics could play in sustainable energy. He then joined the Quantum Materials for Sustainable Technologies group at UT Austin, where he performed his doctoral research on quantum transport in materials for applications in energy conversion and quantum information.
Singh isa Ph.D. student in quantum engineering at the University of Chicago. He completed his undergrad at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, majoring in chemical engineering. Before starting hisPh.D., he worked at TSMC R&D–working first on the development of 16nm process technology and then on the development and integration of resistive memory (RRAM) into the transistor backend. He’s used opportunities at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business to develop entrepreneurial acumen, working as a venture fellow in the ‘Lab to Launch’ course.
Allam’s goal is to apply her knowledge in Materials Science Engineering and Business to her passion for improving society at a global level through creating access to basic needs, such as water and electricity, and economic empowerment. She has developed and optimized a proprietary method of producing ‘wonder material’ Graphene and is now prototyping product applications using the material in water desalination and clean energy. She has also authored the patent applications for the technologies. She earned a MBA from Duke University Fuqua School of Business and a Master of Global Innovation Management from NC State University, Raleigh, NC / IAE, Aix en Provence.
Claudiu Bucur is the founder and CEO of Piersica. He has nearly 15 years industry experience in various R&D battery groups at large multinational OEMs such as Toyota (Japan and US) and GWM/SVOLT (China and US). He served as Chief Engineer, then Project Director for the Solid-State Battery Department of GWM/SVOLT. GWM is the largest SUV OEM in China with SVOLT as its battery company spin-off. It is critical that the US catches up with China in the area of scalable strategies for solid state batteries. Bucur hold a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Florida State University.
Kazadi is the founder of Kazadi Enterprises which is developing a technology platform and products that leverage environmental thermal energy to accomplish heating and cooling, water purification, and electrical power production. He holds a BS in physics and a Ph.D. in Computation and Neural Systems from the California Institute of Technology. While still an undergrad, he founded the pioneering Jisan Research Institute (JRI) which he led from 1995 to 2015. He’s authored over sixty scientific papers and holds five patents. He discovered and developed entrochemical systems initially based on his theoretical work in swarm engineering.
O’Dowd is the founder of Phase 3D. The inception of O’Dowd’s thesis in optical monitoring techniques for metal additive manufacturing (MAM) came from previous research at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He learned about the iterative R&D process when he programmed live computer vision functionality for an ultrasonic laser-based inspection system. He returned to the Lab after his undergraduate degree to develop microprocessing hardware and software for a mode shape measurement electronic speckle pattern interferometer, which also utilized computer vision. After that, he was hooked on image processing, and integrating cameras and algorithms. He was eager to marry the computer vision techniques he’d developed to making and developing a projection based in-situ monitoring technique. He holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University California San Diego.
Hongjun Zeng has extensive expertise in the field of carbon nanomaterials, composite materials and related topics. As Director of R&D at Advanced Diamond Technologies, Inc. (ADT), he developed commercial processes to manufacture nanocrystalline diamond — another carbon nanomaterial with novel properties — into an enabling material for industrial, biomedical and clean tech applications. His interests include broader advanced manufacturing, micro & nanofabrication methods, semiconductor process, and micro-devices to reach limit-breaking goals. His experience combines the unique properties of materials and novel manufacturing approaches to realize devices with performances that cannot be achieved with conventional techniques. His career in CAS, UIC, and ADT led to more than 50 peer-reviewed publications and 13 patents/disclosures. He holds a Ph.D. in Optical Engineering.
Matthew Ackerman became interested in quantum dot thin films while studying for his Ph.D. in physical chemistry at the University of Chicago. Beginning in 2016, he developed novel approaches to modifying the chemical composition and improving the technology readiness level of photodetectors based on mercury telluride colloidal quantum dots. During his doctoral studies, he made significant contributions to the development of short-wave and mid-wave infrared photodetectors which resulted not only in publications but also saw a patent filed.
Karin Calvinho’s company, RenewCO2, was founded in 2018 as a spin-off of research she was involved in at Rutgers University as a Ph.D. candidate. She chose to research catalysts for energy applications because they have an impact on the quality of life of all human beings. This field has critical and challenging problems to solve, such as decarbonizing energy production. She uses the toolbox of chemistry, materials science, and manufacturing technologies to look for solutions that close the carbon loop and help mitigate the environmental effects of catalytic processes.
Pranav Gokhale is a doctoral candidate in quantum computer architecture at the University of Chicago. He developed Super.tech as an extension of the research project EPiQC: Enabling Practical-Scale Quantum Computation, which is the flagship quantum computer science project of the National Science Foundation. His goal is to help bridge the gap between existing theoretical algorithms and practical quantum computing architectures.
Margaret Kocherga is a doctoral candidate in Nanoscale Science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her focus is organic-inorganic hybrid materials for the next generation of organic electronics. In 2019, she founded her start-up company, Light and Charge Solutions, to further explore the potential of these materials.
Christopher Passolano is a doctoral candidate in Materials Science and Engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). His primary goals are conservation and improved energy storage. He focused on high performance rechargeable batteries because they are the foundational technology that will play a critical role for the success of several emerging industries such as electric vehicles, electric aircraft (particularly electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft), and commercial drones.
Carol Scarlett is the founder of Axion Technologies, LLC, which is working on the next generation of encryption devices, a true random number generator. She holds a doctorate in particle physics from the University of Michigan and is an Assistant Professor of Physics at Florida A&M University. The idea for Axion’s focus came from work being performed in experimental nuclear and particle physics to determine how light should be deflected after repeated quantum interactions.
Khalid K. Alam is cofounder and CEO of Stemloop, a synthetic biology startup that is unlocking the power of biological sensors. In 2016, Khalid received his Doctorate in Biochemistry and Graduate Certificate in Life Science Innovation and Entrepreneurship from the University of Missouri, where he built computational and biomolecular tools to address a number of problems ranging from high-throughput sequence analysis to targeted drug delivery.
Yu Kambe is the Co-founder and CEO of NanoPattern Technologies, a company that is enabling advanced quantum dot display manufacturing. Yu received his B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Cornell University in 2013. He is currently working on his Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Chicago Institute for Molecular Engineering.
While completing a Master of Engineering Management degree at Northwestern University, Katie Kollhoff leads the NUMiX Materials team in business development, external partnerships, and company management. She is a chemical engineer with over a decade of experience in chemical process safety and process performance analysis.
Kevin O’Connor earned a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Missouri with a research focus on the development and characterization of dielectric materials and components for high voltage, high power systems. He founded Caporus Technologies, LLC in 2018 to focus on the development and commercialization of novel thin-film dielectrics for high energy density capacitors.
Gary Ong holds a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Focusing on ion transport materials in his doctoral studies, he built a variable temperature and environmental platform to study the ion transport properties of porous ceramics and composites.
Tom is a Ph.D. chemist who is passionate about finding practical solutions to real-world technical problems. Tom serves as Director of the Organic Energy Storage Laboratory at the Michigan State University Bioeconomy Institute in Holland, Mich. In 2014, he co‑founded Jolt Energy Storage Technologies, LLC, where he hopes to use molecular design principles to create organic compounds that will revolutionize the field of energy storage.
Ted is currently devoted to the commercialization efforts of an advanced electrode fabrication technology, which provides a comprehensive and generalizable solution that affords high stability and electrochemical performance to conventional lithium-ion battery materials.
Dr. Bernard Johnson earned a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Stanford University where he worked in the Advanced Energy Systems Lab. His research focused on developing ways to significantly improve the efficiency of internal combustion engines for heavy-duty transportation.
Dr. Justin Whiteley is an electrochemist and materials scientist whose specialty lies in the field of electrochemical devices, namely lithium-ion batteries and super capacitors. He is currently the chief technology officer and co-founder at Emergy, LLC, which focuses on advanced carbon material synthesis through biofabrication.
Dr. Tyler Huggins is an engineer, scientist, and entrepreneur. Huggins is passionate about the application of technologies to facilitate sustainable human development. He firmly believes that clean technologies can be both economically and environmentally advantageous.
Hamilton is currently researching non-equilibrium plasma physics and radiation generated plasma for his M.S. He also is the founder and CEO of Atlas Energy Systems, an energy development company focused on the conversion of nuclear waste into usable energy.