Andrew N. Cleland is the John A. MacLean Sr. Professor for Quantum Engineering Innovation in the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago, Director of the Pritzker Nanofabrication Facility and a Senior Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory. He has served in the Chair line for the American Physical Society – Division of Quantum Information from 2019-2023, and is co-director, Soft and Hybrid Nanotechnology Experimental Resource (SHyNE). He was awarded a Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Quantum Science and Technology (US Dept of State, 2023). His research focuses on developing superconducting quantum circuits and nanoscale optical and mechanical devices. His accomplishments include the first demonstration of a mechanical system cooled to its quantum ground state; the demonstration of a high fidelity, scalable superconducting quantum bit operating at the threshold for quantum error-correction; and the development of a piezo-optomechanical system transducing between the microwave and optical frequency domains. Cleland is the author of over 130 peer-reviewed publications. His work was recognized as the Science “Breakthrough of the Year” for 2010, and selected as one of the “Top Ten Discoveries in Physics” by the Institute of Physics (United Kingdom) in both 2010 and 2011. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Cleland earned a BS in engineering physics and a PhD in physics from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to joining the University of Chicago, Cleland was a Professor of Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and served as the Associate Director of the California Nanosystems Institute.
Dr. Defante graduated with a Ph.D. in Polymer Science at the University of Akron. There he focused on understanding interfacial phenomena in underwater environments by combining surface sensitive spectroscopy with contact mechanics. He spent time at the National Institute Standards of Technology collaborating with the pharmaceutical industry to understand manufacturing stability of monoclonal antibodies. Currently, he is a Sr. Scientist at Hollister Inc. an employee owned company, based in Libertyville, IL focused on delivering medical products in ostomy and continence care. Our Mission is to make life more rewarding and dignified for those who use our products and services. At Hollister, Dr. Defante has enabled the development of a University Academic Ecosystem where he leverages his technical expertise to innovate new products concepts, scout for new technologies, and mentor students to solve real world problems. In his spare time he films episodes of Chemists in the Kitchen, an effort led by LabX of the National Academy of Sciences.
For the past 30 years, Dr. Ling led successful groups in diverse biotechnology fields including cell devices, protein engineering, biosimilars, stem cell differentiation, checkpoint inhibitors and molecular evolution of antibody scaffolds. He has held leadership positions in large, midsized and start-up environments, creating practical biotherapeutics. His current interests at Takeda lie in novel drug delivery technologies, which includes drug particles, energy guidance and biomaterial scaffolds. Dr. Ling currently serves as Senior Director within Search and Evaluation, Business Development, after directorship roles in external innovation and pharmaceutical sciences. Prior to Takeda, Dr. Ling was Head of Biological Sciences developing cell therapies for wet AMD at Neurotech. He has held positions including Vice President at Dragonfly Sciences, managing all scientific operations and marketing functions, Director of Molecular Genetics at Adnexus (Compound Therapeutics), and other scientific roles in Discovery Research at Genetics Institute and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.
David Hurst is the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Engineer for Orbital Transports. Mr. Hurst has extensive experience managing software development and product engineering teams and has been a technology innovator and successful entrepreneur for over 30 years. He has consulted with venture capital firms and advanced technology start-ups, performing technical due diligence and business trategy assessments. In 2013, he left the IT industry to pursue his passion for space and became a space entrepreneur. David founded Orbital Transports to develop the space logistics and orbital infrastructure needed for the emerging in-space economy. He utilizes his business, entrepreneurial, and systems engineering skills to lead Orbital Transports during each stage of growth. He is responsible for systems engineering and project management across the private and government development efforts. He has developed MBSE practices for smallsat missions and contributes to the INCOSE Space Systems Working Group. He has served as PI on multiple NASA SBIR projects and led the development of Mission Cloud, a SysML-based enterprise MBSE system for developing small satellite missions, which Orbital Transports has successfully commercialized and uses to deliver small satellite mission services. Prior to Orbital Transports, Mr. Hurst founded several successful technology companies, including Athena Security, Inc, which was acquired in 2012. He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Northwestern University.
Beth Mund is the Executive Director of the STOIRES of Space Project, and the Chief Narrative Officer of her company, Stellar Communications. Beth Mund is an expert on showcasing the narratives of space leaders, innovators, and explorers. Beth is a sought-after host for several international conferences, and space communication advisor. She is the host and creator of Casual Space Podcast. Beth is a former NASA Public Affairs Officer for the Johnson Space Center, and International Space Station Communications Officer Beth has served as a science communications officer on two analog astronaut simulated missions, and will be serving on her next analog this October. Beth’s most recent work, projects and missions can be found at www.bethmund.com.
Michelle Hoffmann, Ph.D. has been serving since August of 2021 as the Executive Director of the Chicago Biomedical Consortium (CBC), a consortium of biomedical researchers across Northwestern, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of Chicago that is generously supported by the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust. The CBC’s mission is to stimulate collaboration among scientists to accelerate discovery that will transform biomedical research and improve the health of humankind. In her time as Executive Director, Dr. Hoffmann has reorganized the CBC to train local PhD talent in the business of early science commercialization while developing a process to find and fund the most promising biopharma applications of Chicago university science. Prior to this role, from 2019-2021, Dr. Hoffmann was the Senior Vice President of Deep Tech at P33, a privately funded nonprofit charged with elevating Chicagoland’s innovation economy and driving inclusive economic growth. Hoffmann spent 15 years helping life sciences companies grow, most recently as a senior vice president at Boston-based Back Bay Life Science Advisors, an integrated strategy and investment firm to global life science companies and their investors. During her time at Back Bay, Hoffmann led projects for large, publicly traded companies, as well as small, private, venture-backed health care and life sciences companies. Hoffmann also worked closely with Back Bay’s investment team on two large transactions: an epigenetics platform that was sold to Gilead Pharmaceuticals for $65M and an agent to combat acute kidney injury that was acquired by AbbVie for $110M. Hoffmann earned a PhD in molecular and cellular biology from the University of California Berkeley and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Brandeis University.
Mounir Alafrangy is the commercial innovation manager and technology lead for the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory. Alafrangy manages the Technology Advancement and Applied Research Leveraging the ISS National Lab’s research announcement (NLRA) and conducts several public speaking engagements annually to provide updates on the scientific achievements created by the ISS. With an MS in mechanical and aerospace engineering from The George Washington University (GWU), Alafrangy has more than 20 years of entrepreneurial experience spearheading several innovations from concept to prototype. He has provided project management in diverse fields, including mechanical and systems engineering, and has led prototype development. In October 2019, Alafrangy successfully completed a 45-day confined space mission at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. He was one of four crew members, known as analog astronauts, who were selected from a large pool of applicants to be part of the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) Mission XX. HERA is a ground- based analog used by NASA’s Human Research Program to study the effects of isolation and confinement on humans. The research being done there will help NASA better understand the hazards of human spaceflight as the agency prepares to send astronauts to the Moon and on to Mars and bring them home safely. During his analog mission to the Martian moon of Phobos, Alafrangy participated in activities similar to those performed on the International Space Station, such as simulated cargo transfers with the Canadarm, virtual spacewalks, lunar landing control, spaceship maintenance, and sample evaluation. While completing his degree at GWU, Alafrangy’s research focused on creating mechanisms that will mitigate the physiological risks associated with long-duration space travel and improve human health on deep space missions.
Pete Dulcamara is the founder of Pete Dulcamara & Associates, whose mission is to “help create businesses that improve people’s lives.” The founding principle is rooted in the practice of what he calls, “humanity-centric innovation,” which aims to solve the biggest problems facing humanity in an economically viable way. Pete believes that we can all become billionaires if we stop defining a billionaire as someone who accumulates a billion dollars and start defining it as someone who helps a billion people. Before starting his LLC, Pete served as the Chief Scientist, Vice President of Corporate Research & Engineering, and Site Leader for the Innovation and Operational Excellence Center at the Kimberly- Clark Corporation. He had responsibility for leading the discovery, development, and delivery of science and technology to every business, brand, and region for the company globally. He also had responsibility for employee and community engagement for approximately 2500 employees located in Neenah, Wisconsin, where the company was founded. Prior to Kimberly-Clark, Pete served as a senior R&D executive with The Dow Chemical Company, where he held various positions for numerous businesses in research and development, new business development, sustainable development, mergers and acquisitions, corporate licensing, and new ventures. Pete is a featured speaker at conferences around the world, typically receiving rave reviews for “thought-provoking” content, “powerful and innovative” storytelling, and a unique ability to translate complex topics into “highly accessible and inspiring insights” for a wide array of audiences.
Rudy Wojtecki is a Principal Research Staff Member and Manager of Electronic Materials and Process Technology at IBM Research | Almaden. He leads efforts on area selective depositions (ASD), smart packaging materials and manages the R&D of a joint venture commercializing a technology for chemical recycling. He has more than 130 patents/patent applications and 32 peer-reviewed publications. He was recognized in 2022 by the American Vacuum Society as the recipient of the Peter B. Mark Award for “For outstanding contributions towards the future of computing through the application of supramolecular and dynamic covalent chemistries in the design of surfaces for area selective depositions”, in 2022 as Chemical and Engineering News – Talented-12 – boundary breaking young scientists, by IBM as a Master Inventor in 2017 and by the American Chemical Society (ACS) with the Young Investigator’s Award in 2015. He serves on the external advisory boards for the Cornell University Nanofab and the University of Chicago Materials Research Science and Engineering Center. In 2022 he served as Chair of the ASD Workshop and as a member of the planning committees for the ACS Young Investigator’s Symposium in 2020, the 2021 ASD Workshop and the National Academy of Science DMMI Quantum Technologies Workshop in 2019. He graduated from Case Western Reserve University in 2014 with a Ph.D. in Macromolecular Science & Engineering under the auspices of Stuart J. Rowan and the support of a NASA GSRP fellowship.
Chuck is PFAS R&D Programs Lead for Cambium Analytica in Traverse City, MI and a fervent 'Blue Ocean Strategist'.* In the Red Ocean, the Cambium laboratory teams detect, measure, and track PFAS in the environment. In the Blue Ocean, Cambium is an integrator and catalyst for leveraging data to solve big problems. In 2020 he launched Solve for X, L3C, a Research & Development platform and a 'social enterprise' specifically designed to align and coordinate philanthropic, private capital, academic, and industrial resources. He is a vocal advocate for environmental stewardship, especially for freshwater ecosystems, and has led collaborative research initiatives on multiple topics. Chuck is an Industry Advisor at The University of Chicago – Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. His role there is to mentor post-graduate researchers and post-doctorate scientists, helping them reframe their esoteric theses and dissertations in terms and language of private capital and industry audiences. He is the Board Chairman and President of TCNewTech, a platform for innovation and economic growth in the Traverse City, MI region. He is also a mentor for the Water Innovation Lab in Toronto and serves on the Advisory Committee for AquaAction in Montreal. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Russian Studies from The University of Chicago in 1984. He then served as a U.S. Naval Officer, deploying in the western Pacific and Indian Ocean theatres, after which he earned his MBA in Finance from The University of Chicago – Booth School of Business in 1992. Chuck and his wife spend their time in Traverse City and Arles, FR.
*Blue Ocean Strategy, Kim and Mauborgne, Harvard Business Review Press, 2005
Omkar Bhave serves as Director of Investment Strategy for the Polsky Center, where he oversees and manages the George Shultz Innovation Fund which provides up to $250,000 in funding for early-stage deep tech ventures coming out of University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab, and the Marine Biological Laboratory. In his previous role at UChicago, he has managed and grown research partnerships with multiple Fortune 500 companies. He is also a trusted advisor on strategic projects for the Polsky Center and UChicago leadership which include establishing a $25 million Deep Tech Venture Fund. Omkar has a strong background in venture capital, business development, technology commercialization, and corporate engagement. Prior to joining the University of Chicago, Omkar managed a significant portion of chemicals revenue for FutureFuel Chemical Company and guided the company to several new business development opportunities. He has worked as a process engineer at Pryor Chemical Company. He has also held research positions at the University of Arkansas where he authored papers in the biotechnology and chemicals space and presented at scientific conferences. Omkar earned an MBA from Chicago Booth and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from The University of Arkansas. His hobbies include skiing, hiking, and traveling.
Tage has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Michigan and a Doctorate in Molecular Biology from Indiana University. He is a board-certified toxicologist with 20 years of experience developing both pharmaceuticals and medical devices with an emphasis on product safety. Tage currently oversees Technology Development within Ostomy R&D, a team with well over 100 years of collective experience specializing in Material Science, Polymer Chemistry and Biology as they apply to barrier formulations, adhesives, films and plastics. This team is responsible for understanding how materials can be used to optimize product performance and is currently focusing on developing new products to protect, maintain and restore healthy peristomal skin.