Celebrating Innovation

TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 7, 2009) – The four most powerful words at the University of South Florida might just be: “I have an idea.”

Celebrating that spirit of innovation, more than 130 members of USF’s new Academy of Inventors were inducted and researchers campus-wide put their work on display in the second-annual ResearchOne week by honoring the ideas and inventions of their colleagues.

Vice President for Research & Innovation Karen Holbrook said the goal of ResearchOne is to highlight USF’s vast research enterprise and showcase cutting-edge projects for both the campus community and that of the Tampa Bay region.

“We really want to show the Tampa Bay community how exciting, and how productive, how valuable and how relevant our research at the University of South Florida,” Holbrook said. “Our other goal is to show USF to itself. There is so much going on and the campus is so large and diverse, that a lot of people don’t know what’s going on from one college to the next. And this is a wonder opportunity to showcase what our students do.”

ResearchOne this year comes on the heels of USF being named in The Chronicle of Higher Education as the fastest-growing university in the nation for federal research funds between 2000 and 2007. Simply translated, that means that during those seven years, no other group of faculty had a faster rate of earning new federal sponsorship for discovery and the creation of knowledge.

USF also recently announced a new record in research funding, $380.4 million in 2008 in 2008-09. That’s a $20 million increase over the previous year.

As the university’s research profile grows, so does the international reputation of its researchers and the clear impact they are having on solving some of the world’s most serious problems.

“If you look around the nation and you look around the world, everybody is focusing on the same problems,” she said. “They are all on energy, they area on climate change, hunger, health and disease and many of those problem are not just solved by one nation, or one  group or one university, but they are going to take input from everybody.”

The 131 charter members of the Academy of Inventors and the six honorary members represent just a small sampling of USF’s research projects, but speak loudly about the depth of talent and an potential for the university to play a major role in innovation, said Len Polizzotto, principal director of strategic business development for Draper Laboratory, a tenant in the USF Research Park.

Three faculty members were honored with the 2009 Excellence in Innovation Awards:

·         Ken Christensen, a professor in the Department of Computer Science, for his work in Energy Efficient Ethernet Standards Project that has led to two new standards that have been adopted by the EPA’s “Energy Star” program – manufacturing specifications for energy efficient equipment.    These manufacturing standards apply to energy usage by computer networks and PCs, thus reducing energy consumption and improved sustainability.


·         Abdul Malik, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, for his work in Sol-gel technology in analytical separations methodology that has resulted in 10 issued patents (from 4 countries) and eleven US patents pending.  This novel technology will lead to significant advances in rapid diagnostic analysis. 


·         Roland Shytle, an associate professor in the Center of Excellence for Aging & Brain Repair for his discovery of successful clinical uses for mecamylamine, which has lead to four issued patents on mecamylamine and its active enantiomer. Shytle’s patents have been licensed to the pharmaceutical company, Targacept, Inc.

The key to connecting research and invention into new technology and products that benefit the public is connecting research to real-world issues, noted Polizzotto, himself a holder of 10 patents and an honorary member of the USF Academy of Inventors.

“Invention is not innovation, they are very different,” he said. “I can come up with something very clever, very inventive, but if people don’t care about it, it’s not innovation. Innovation is really solving problems.”

ResearchOne activities emphasized the practical application of innovation with programs such as a presentation on veterans’ integration from retired Marine Gen. Martin R. Steele and red tide and aquaculture research from a panel of scientists working in USF’s new partnership with Mote Marine Laboratory. Other events focused on math, science, technology and engineering education; biomedical sciences; molecular medicine and drug development and child abuse and neglect.

The humanities were also highlighted. Madeline Camará discussed her latest work on Cuban women writers and artist Teresita Fernandez featured her Blind Landscape exhibit.

Click here for the weeklong schedule of ResearchOne events.

The University of South Florida System is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The system offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. It has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.