Areas of Collaborative Interest
- Bioprocess engineering consulting for Pharmaceuticals
I think about my research as applying the approaches of bioprocess engineering and systems biology in different mixes and different ways. Generally, my research has been in the direction of environmental biotechnology – cleaning up contaminated soil and water with plants, micro-organisms, and enzymes. Another area of my research is to use micro-organisms and algae to make fuels and chemicals from biomass. A third area has been making bioanalytical devices and biosensors.
“The way we as faculty members at the University think about commercialization is different now compared to when I started. Thirty years ago, it seemed like to commercialize you had to make an actual thing. It seemed like all the commercialization happened in industry. I never thought about anything I did as being patentable or commercializable. Now I know differently, and I think more accurately about what would be patentable or commercializable. It’s not always a device, sometimes it’s a process. We are trying to understand what could be valuable to people.
You have to separate what’s a “cool idea” from what’s a “useful idea” that people will actually purchase. You have to be realistic about how easy it will be to make it and then put it in people’s hands. A lot of the research we do here at the University – we are learning things, uncovering how things work. Often the things we discover come across [to us] as useful. Then I think about how this could be of value to somebody [out in the world], not just fascinating [to me as a researcher]. Participating in the commercialization process has helped me become more aware of a potential end use of my findings, rather than just focusing o the exciting idea I am uncovering in the first place. Commercialization is the connection between those two things.”
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