owls taking flight
10 Houston researchers named to fellowship to advance innovation
A program with a mission to translate research into innovative startups has named its 2023 cohort of fellows.
Rice University's Innovation Fellows program, which is run by the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Office of Innovation, has announced the 10 innovators that will be joining the program this year. The program, open to Rice faculty and doctoral and postdoctoral students, provides support — funding, mentorship, and more — to move innovation out of labs and into commercialization.
“The Rice Innovation Fellows program is a critical part of our efforts to support innovation and entrepreneurship,” Rice President Reginald DesRoches says in a news release. “These exceptional individuals represent some of the most innovative and promising research being conducted at Rice, and we’re thrilled to support them as they work to bring their ideas to the world.”
According to the release, the 10 members of the 2023 cohort are:
- Martha Fowler, a doctoral student from the bioengineering lab of Omid Veiseh
- Carson Cole, a doctoral student from the chemistry lab of Jeff Hartgerink
- Fatima Ahsan, a doctoral student from the electrical and computer engineering lab of Behnaam Aazhang
- Siraj Sidhik, a doctoral student from the materials science and nanoengineering lab of Aditya Mohite
- Roman Zhuravel, a postdoctoral student from the physics and astronomy lab of Guido Pagano
- Samira Aghlara-Fotovat, a doctoral student from the bioengineering lab of Veiseh
- Clarke Wilkirson, a doctoral student from the mechanical engineering lab of Peter Lillehoj
- Yuren Feng, a doctoral student from the civil and environmental engineering lab of Qilin Li
- Yang Xia, a doctoral student from the chemical and molecular engineering lab of Haotian Wang
- Thao Vy Nguyen, a doctoral student from the chemical engineering lab of Sibani Lisa Biswal
Each of Rice's Innovation Fellows will receive up to $20,000 in funding, as well as access to the university's network for mentorship and training.
“We're incredibly excited to welcome this exceptional group of researchers into the Innovation Fellows program,” says Yael Hochberg, head of the Rice Entrepreneurship Initiative and faculty director for Lilie, in the release. “We look forward to working with them as they bring their groundbreaking research to market and make a real impact on the world.”
Last year's inaugural cohort in raised more than $1 million in venture capital funding and over $3 million in additional nondilutive funding, as well as earning more than $500,000 in revenue.
Some of the 2022 cohort's accomplishments included Helix Earth Technologies winning the inaugural TEX-E Prize and Sygne Solutions securing second place and $200,000 at the 2023 Rice Business Plan Competition.
Paul Cherukuri, Rice’s vice president for innovation, who recently joined the Houston Innovators Podcast, explains how this is one avenue Rice has for getting innovation off campus and into industry.
“With commercialization of research at the forefront of what Rice University wants to do,” says Cherukuri, "the Innovation Fellows program is the first in a constellation of programs and resources developed by the Office of Innovation to help impactful new ventures overcome the hard tech ‘valley of death’ and transition from the campus to the community, so we can help create the next generation of game-changing company for Houston, Texas and the world,."