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William Murphy and Paul Wilson
June 30, 2021

Murphy, Wilson leading industry collaborations in biopharma, fusion energy

College of Engineering faculty members are leading two ambitious industry partnerships and contributing to two others as part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Promoting Industry Collaboration Initiative.

The $1.3M initiative is funded by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. Seven projects led by researchers from across the UW-Madison campus received support.

William Murphy, the Harvey D. Spangler Professor of biomedical engineering and orthopedics and rehabilitation and H.I. Romnes Faculty Fellow, is leading a partnership with Promega, 3M, Catalent, Versiti, University Research Park and Venture Investors to create a first-of-its-kind course that will provide graduate students with the multidisciplinary training to succeed in the biopharmaceutical industry. Students will meet and work directly with industry partners to help them reframe their research into commercially valuable ideas.

Paul Wilson, the Grainger Professor of Nuclear Engineering, will head up an ambitious project establishing a one-of-a-kind public-private partnership between UW-Madison’s top-rated fusion energy program and the company Phoenix, founded by alumnus Greg Piefer (BSEE ’99, MSNEEP ’04, PhDNEEP/MedPhys ’06) and now a subsidiary of his company SHINE, to design, construct and operate a national fusion facility based on the company’s technology. Adrien Couet, assistant professor of nuclear engineering and engineering physics, and Oliver Schmitz, professor of engineering physics, are co-principal investigators on the project, while Jerry Kulcinski, professor emeritus of engineering physics, is a co-investigator.

William Sethares, professor of electrical and computer engineering, is co-principal investigator of an effort to develop an electroencephalogram-based method to measure the benefit of hearing aids for infants born with hearing loss via machine learning techniques.

Daniel Noguera, the Wisconsin Distinguished Professor of civil and environmental engineering, is co-principal investigator of a collaboration with leaders of Wisconsin’s dairy industry to generate valuable products from the abundant non-food dairy residues that remain after milk is processed into food products.

The goal of the Promoting Industry Collaboration Initiative is to develop, build and promote collaborations between UW–Madison and the private sector. It seeks to create solutions to complex social, environmental and economic challenges that are best addressed via collaboration between universities and industry. This initiative also supports semester or semester-plus-summer long internships for PhD students with dissertator status.

“These projects will create solutions that will benefit society, while further branding the UW–Madison as a place on the forefront of innovation and progress,” says Steve Ackerman, vice chancellor for research and graduate education at UW-Madison. “Additionally, this initiative creates a nurturing environment for entrepreneurial development and student readiness in some of the most exciting areas of research today.”