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December 15, 2021

Two College of Engineering teams chosen as WARF Innovation Award winners

Written By: Adam Malecek

A team that created a device for detecting explosives and a cross-disciplinary team working at the frontiers of medicine and nanotechnology have taken top honors in the 2021 WARF Innovation Awards, which recognize some of the most promising technologies developed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin.

In fact, five of the six teams selected as finalists for the award are at least partially based in the College of Engineering. This is the second year in a row that engineering faculty and students were selected for the award.

This year’s winners are Jiamian Hu, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, and graduate student Shihao Zhuang for their work, Terahertz Imaging System for Global Security, and a team including Shaoqin “Sarah” Gong, Vilas Distinguished Professor and Advancing Vision Science Professor of biomedical engineering; Zachary Morris, professor of human oncology; biomedical engineering postdoctoral researcher Ying Zhang and human oncology researcher Raghava Sriramaneni for their work, Nanoparticle to Render Tumors More Susceptible to Treatment.

The materials science and engineering team’s improved, narrowband terahertz emitter has the potential to safely and non-intrusively detect explosives and other dangerous materials in public places like subway stations and stadiums.

The cross-disciplinary team combined its novel nanoparticle, radiation therapy and a cellular division checkpoint inhibitor in an approach that could expand the number of tumors responsive to immunotherapy.

An independent panel of judges selected the winners from a field of six finalists drawn from several hundred invention disclosures submitted to WARF over the prior 12 months. The winning teams each receive an award of $10,000, with the funds going to the named UW-Madison inventors.

“Each year our Innovation Awards recognize some of the most exciting early-stage solutions to real-world problems,” says Erik Iverson, CEO of WARF. “We’re pleased to celebrate the nominees, and all UW-Madison innovators working to discover and translate research with the power to touch lives. From human health and a greener future to cutting-edge engineering, the passion to make a difference remains strong across campus.”

The other 2021 WARF Innovation Award finalists are:

Making Spectroscopy Accessible to All

  •  Jack St. Clair Kilby Associate Professor Mikhail Kats (Electrical & Computer Engineering)
  • Yuzhe Xiao (Electrical & Computer Engineering)
  • Chenghao Wan (Electrical & Computer Engineering)
  • Jad Salman (Electrical & Computer Engineering)

Green Synthesis of Bio-Based Polyurethanes and Polyesters

Enhanced Probiotic Delivery to Treat Intestinal Disorder

  • Quanyin Hu (School of Pharmacy)
  • Jun Liu (School of Pharmacy)

Indoor Sound Shaping Based on Broadband Metamaterial Reflector

  • Assistant Professor Chu Ma (Electrical & Computer Engineering)

A version of this story was first published by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).