Spring 2023 Spark Fund Awardees

ChE/COS Associate Professor Carolyn Lee-Parsons, ECE Professor Edmund Yeh, ChE Assistant Professor Ryan Koppes, and MIE Associate Professor Yaning Li are recipients of the Spring 2023 Spark Fund Awards. The awards provide support to commercially valuable inventions (from any field) from university researchers in earlier stages of development. The goal of the award is to advance a technology or suite of technologies from academia towards commercialization.

Carolyn Lee-Parsons of the Lee-Parsons Lab, College of Engineering

Lee-Parsons’ main research focus is the production of valuable pharmaceutical compounds from plant cell cultures, specifically the production of important anti-cancer drug molecules from cell cultures of Catharanthus roseus. Plant cell culture is potentially a better route for supplying certain structurally complex drug molecules than chemical synthesis or extraction from whole plants. Moreover, plant cell culture can potentially produce these drug molecules at a faster and more consistent rate than whole plants. The overall vision of her research is to meet the needs and demands of important and cost-prohibitive plant-derived pharmaceuticals using plant cell culture, applying engineering strategies, and ultimately developing an economically viable process using plant cell culture.

Edmund Yeh, College of Engineering

Yeh’s research focuses on networking and systems for data-intensive engineering, science, health applications; caching, fog/edge computing, networked distributed learning; wireless network optimization, coding for low latency, network coding, polar codes; interdependent networks, cascading failure, information dissemination; and network economics.

Ryan Koppes of the Laboratory for Neuromodulation and Neuromuscular Repair (LNNR), College of Engineering

The LNNR studies the physical bridge between cells and electronics to improve nerve gap and prosthetic technologies. The lab is also interested in neuron interactions with the heart to help relieve the healthcare burden of heart failure. Peripheral nerve injury results in a debilitating loss of motor and sensory function. Despite synthetic options, surgeons insist on utilizing sacrificial, ‘less important’, nerve grafts from the patient to treat large nerve injuries. Prof. Koppes and the LNNR’s strategy may propel synthetic options to the beneficial level of native nerve.

Yaning Li of the Mechanics, Biomimetics, and 3D Printing Research Lab, College of Engineering

Li’s lab focuses on discovering and simulating the mechanics of innovative soft hybrid micro/nano-architectured mechanical metamaterials with unique mechanical properties, such as negative Poisson’s ratio, negative stiffness, and superior energy absorption capabilities. The team has worked on theoretical, numerical, and experimental investigations of instability of all kinds of materials and structures across all length scales. This enables the team to develop new materials with unique mechanical properties. Learn More About the Spark Fund and Past Awardees

Related Departments:Chemical Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering