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More than 75 honorees attended the inaugural inventor recognition ceremony September 20.
Inventing the future
The U throws a party for its latest crop of inventors
By Deane Morrison
Published on September 23, 2005
If you've ever thrown out a chunk of expensive aged cheddar cheese because it had white spots on it, fear not. Lloyd Metzger has come up with an ingredient to keep the spots from forming. The process is being tested, but you'll have to be patient--it takes a while to age the cheese and see the results. An assistant professor of food science and nutrition, Metzger was one of approximately 104 University inventors honored Tuesday during the inaugural Inventor Recognition Ceremony at McNamara Alumni Center. The event recognized every University person who had had a patent issued and/or a commercial license signed on intellectual property during fiscal year 2005. In his remarks, President Robert Bruininks praised the honorees' work and stressed the University's commitment to seek out, nurture, and launch new intellectual property. The work is paying dividends; Vice President for Research R. Timothy Mulcahy announced that the University had received nearly $48 million in royalties on licensed technologies during the past fiscal year. Mulcahy, who handed out awards to inventors with both a patent and a license in 2005, also showed off his preparation for the event when he rattled off Nikos Papanikolopoulos's name flawlessly. Papanikolopoulos, inventor of the self-propelled, soda can-sized Scout robots, "reinvented the wheels" of the reconnaissance robots to improve their ability to navigate challenging terrain. Overall, the inventions ran the gamut of ingenuity:
- Test to detect carriers of a fatal genetic disease in horses. (Stephanie Valberg, veterinary population medicine, and James Mickelson, veterinary biosciences)
- Device and catalyst to extract hydrogen gas from an ethanol-water mixture (Lanny Schmidt, chemical engineering and materials science)
- Test for inflammation of the brain that may result from a type of influenza common in Japanese children. (Ronald Jemmerson, microbiology)
- Diagnostic test for bacteria that cause a cancerlike disease that is the most important intestinal disease of pigs worldwide (Connie Gebhart, veterinary pathobiology)
- Additive that increases the toughness of epoxy plastic more than 10-fold. (Frank Bates, chemical engineering and materials science)
- Carbohydrate fibers that, when added to food, lead to less body fat and more muscle--in rats, at least. (Dan Gallaher and Freiburger, food science and nutrition)
- DNA and protein that allow soil bacteria to break down the herbicide atrazine more quickly and to add related herbicides to their repertoire. (Michael Sadowsky, soil, water and climate, and Lawrence Wackett, biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics)
- Titanium rod for insertion in the cavity of a broken arm bone to stabilize the bone, relieve pain and allow movement as the fracture heals. (Matthew Putnam, orthopedic surgery)
- Silicon carbide nanoparticle composites for use on the surfaces of cutting tools subject to hard wear. (William Gerberich, chemical engineering and materials science)
- Method to make a vaccine for a tick-borne disease of cattle. (Ulrike Munderloh, entomology)
- New variety of maple tree (Steven McNamara, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum)
The Sept. 20 event follows an earlier celebration this month, The Minnesota Cup, that highlights other breakthrough innovations and underscores the University's role as an engine for economic growth. Oh, and about those spots on cheese: They're not mold, just harmless crystals of calcium and lactic acid, normal components of milk. So eat up, and raise a glass to the creative among us.