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U of M awards grant money to researchers

The FedEx Institute of Technology awarded $160,000 in development grants for eight new technologies by researchers from the University of Memphis.

The FedEx Institute awarded these grants to the most commercially promising technologies on campus. They intend to support and protect these innovations on their journey to commercialization and obtaining a patent.

Jasbir Dhaliwal, executive director of the FedEx Institute and U of M chief innovation officer, said this was done to support faculty innovators and researchers.

“We like to spend money on our (U of M) inventors and our researchers,” Dhaliwal said. “In today’s world, innovation is moving fast, so it’s important to protect things that have potential for success and capital.”

As the doorway to the research infrastructure and innovation capabilities at the U of M, the FedEx Institute looks for cutting-edge research. They will put out a call when looking for new, innovative technology. Applicants send in their work, and then experts will review it to see if it is patentable. If they think it has licensing potential, they send it to be patented.

The institute awarded grants to the technologies they believe have the largest chances of getting a patent and being commercialized. Last year, they received 8 patents for projects conducted by U of M researchers and faculty.

“The idea is to move the technology toward commercialization,” Dhaliwal said. “We want technology with potential and a visible future in the market.”

How the grant aids the research process is up to the researcher. Each project is different, and the money can be utilized to buy more equipment, hire a doctoral student to assist a project’s developments or gather other research materials.

For Chrysanthe Preza, a recipient of a FedEx Institute grant and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the grant will help build a better prototype for her invention, which currently has a provisional patent filed. Her project focuses on light sheet fluorescence microscopy, and she intends to design and evaluate the performance of several components used for data processing.

“(The grant) will help with the long-term goal to file a patent and to license the technology in the future,” Preza said.

Randal Buddington received the grant for his system to help transport infants less than 26 weeks to an advanced NICU to receive proper treatment for improved survival, according to a press release from the U of M.

William Alexander also received a grant for his “Amphibious Unmanned Aerial System for Environmental Sampling and Analysis.” It is being tested with help from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the press release said.

Gary Emmert will continue research on a fully automated, on-site system that will monitor lead concentrations in drinking water supplies in distributed systems and homes, according to the press release.

Mohd Hasan Ali is building hardware for a nonlinear controller of a capacitor device, and Bashir Morshed’s research will combat issues of discomfort among patients by creating a Band-Aid-like sensor for “physiological signal capture,” the press release said.

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