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CSU Ventures Celebrates its Fifth Cohort of Ambassadors

To better serve the Colorado State University community, CSU Ventures (CSUV) developed the Graduate Student Ambassador Program. Celebrating its 5th year, the ambassador program is aimed at enhancing the connection between CSU faculty and students and CSUV. Since the start of the ambassador program in 2012, there have been 23 student ambassadors from 15 departments across seven colleges, including the colleges of Agriculture, Engineering, Health and Human Sciences, Liberal Arts, Natural Sciences, CVMBS, and the Warner College of Natural Resources.  CSUV expanded the program to also include post-doctoral fellows during the third cohort.

By engaging graduate students and post-docs to serve as ambassadors on campus, the program increases CSUV’s visibility and presence among the CSU community. Each academic year, CSUV hires student ambassadors to assist and aid in the development of innovative strategies which enhance the presence of CSUV on campus.

As part of the program, ambassadors help CSUV remain proactive in anticipating and identifying innovative research, creative works and potential inventions, and support CSU startups in gaining traction within specific industries. Ambassadors also participate in the planning and implementation of the Graduate Student Showcase, as well as the CSU Collegiate Challenge and Innovation Symposium.

Development of the Program at CSUV

CSUV developed the program after researching ways in which graduate students could impact the culture of innovation at a university. The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) created a similar program, and CSUV modeled the Ambassador program after that at WARF with a few tweaks.  CSUV Ambassadors go through a training curriculum as well as learning through case studies.  Further, Ambassadors interact with a variety of specialists, including attorneys, program directors, company founders, faculty, fellow graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

With the success of the CSUV Ambassador program, CSUV has shared their experience and knowledge with other universities. CSUV has participated in panels at the Association for University Technology Managers (AUTM) at its annual meeting and is providing an update at the AUTM Western regional meeting in November 2016.  Further, CSUV staff was invited to the National Cancer Institute (Bethesda, MD) to brainstorm and help launch a similar program for post-doctoral fellows, coined the NCI Technology Transfer Ambassadors Program (TTAP).  The inaugural NCI TTAP cohort was launched in October 2016.

Innovation Symposium

Held each spring, the CSU Collegiate Challenge and Innovation Symposium is a daylong celebration of entrepreneurship providing opportunities at Colorado State University to learn about the conversion of ideas into viable commercial products as well as increasing their abilities as innovators. The event is designed to promote research and collaboration across campus, and to educate students about innovation. Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers can present their work in an environment that fosters stimulating and entrepreneurial thinking. The 2017 Innovation Symposium is scheduled for April 27 at the CSU Lory Student Center.

2016-2017 Ambassador Cohort

Megan Aanstoos, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Megan has a PhD from the School of Biomedical Engineering at Colorado State University and currently works as a postdoctoral researcher for Dr. Yvette Nout-Lomas, studying gait patterns in horses and other large animals.

Nathan Byers, Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Nathan’s work focuses on studying the underlying mechanisms of epileptic disorders and searching for potential targets to alleviate those symptoms.

Aimee Colbath, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Aimee has a VMD from the University of Pennsylvania and completed an animal surgery residency and MS at CSU. Her research focuses on mesenchymal stem cell and induced pluripotent stem cell use in horses, as well as the treatment of equine sarcoidosis.

Michael Friedman, Department of Biology, College of Natural Sciences. Michael’s work focuses on enhancing crop production to support bioenergy technology and food security needs through plant molecular biology, biotechnology, and gene discovery.

Sarah Hipps-Shipp, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, College of Health and Human Sciences. Sarah’s work focuses on evaluating the associations between parent health characteristics, the home food environment, and child weight status.

Noelle Juengling, Department of Tourism Management, Warner College of Natural Resources. Noelle’s work focuses on implementing sustainable practices within the tourism industry that improve environmental impact, food and agriculture growth, and water and energy reduction.

Miles McKenna, Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Miles’s work focuses on environmental and genetic influences on DNA damage and repair. He also works for KromaTiD, a biotech company, focusing on mutation detection and disease diagnosis.

Michael Somers, Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering. Michael’s research focuses on engineering process modeling of microalgae-based biofuel production systems and corresponding sustainability analysis, including Life-Cycle Analysis and Techno-Economic Analysis.

Participants in the CSU Ventures Ambassador Program gain impact from the program in multiple areas. The program serves as a chance for Masters and PhD students to receive exposure and experience in their own fields, and provides other more nontraditional opportunities, such as movement direct from the program into startup companies and other job paths.

Ambassadors Working in the Startup Community and Nontraditional Job Paths

Miles McKenna, Kromatid (www.kromatid.com). Miles’s work involves research and development of cytogenetic based diagnostic assays for mutation detection and disease diagnosis.

Lyndsey Linke, SiVEC Biotechnologies (www.sivecbiotehnologies.com). Winner of the 2016 business pitch competition, Dr. Linke studied Infectious Disease Epidemiology at CSU and is CEO and founder of SiVEC Biotechnologies, developer of new antiviral technology, SiVEC-AIV™, to prevent the spread of avian flu virus in poultry.

Scott Fulbright, Living Ink Technologies (www.livinginktechnologies.com). Scott is CEO and founder of Living Ink, which uses a patent pending process that uses living organisms to produce ink for a variety of applications.

Duncan Ryan, TP Microscopy. Duncan is a PhD candidate in physics at Colorado State University, where his areas of research interest include quantum dots, nanocrystals, plasma physics, and x-ray sources.

Jason Prapas, Factor(E) Ventures (www.factore.com). Jason works with a team as Chief Technology Officer and Director of India Operations to find, validate, fund, de-risk, and grow a rich pipeline of access-to-energy companies which we prepare for global impact.

Esteban Hincapie, EH Energy Consulting.

Eric Tauchman, Biogen. Eric provides information to Health Care Providers pertaining to the disease state of multiple sclerosis and therapies available, working to ensure these therapies are available. Additionally, he organizes and offers educational programs surrounding these topics.

Originally Appeared In: SOURCE, Mallory Wallace, 11-3-2016.