New Green Battery, Leukemia Vaccine, and Face Detection Software Honored at Awards Ceremony

New Green Battery, Leukemia Vaccine, and Face Detection Software Honored at Awards Ceremony

Riggs Alumni Center’s Orem Hall buzzed with energy and anticipation as over 150 campus innovators eagerly awaited the announcement of the award winners at this year’s University of Maryland (UMD) Celebration of Innovation and Partnerships on May 9th.

“The sheer talent, accomplishment, and creativity of our faculty researchers is stunning, and this event showcases their accomplishments,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “We are committed to fostering a supportive, nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, to empower their work. Clearly, it works.”

Each year, the University of Maryland (UMD) honors exceptional inventions that have the potential to make an important impact on science, society, and the free market. The Invention of the Year award nominees come from three categories: Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, and Information Sciences. One invention from each category was selected to win the Invention of the Year Award.

The nominees were selected from a vast number of innovations produced by UMD’s faculty and students. In 2015, researchers disclosed 186 inventions to the Office of Technology Commercialization within the Division of Research. A total of 30 technologies were licensed, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued 42 patents to UMD inventions in 2015.

“The transformation of research and knowledge to commercialized products and services with global impact is directly aligned with our mission as the Modern Metropolitan Model of the 21st Century Land-grant University,” said UMD Vice President and Chief Research Officer Patrick O’Shea. “We are proud of our inventors and innovators and look forward to adding more to our UMD family of inventions.”

This year’s Invention of the Year Winners were:

In the Physical Sciences category:

Safer and More Affordable Energy Storage

Developing green energy is a huge priority at UMD, and researchers Chunsheng Wang and Liumin Suo partnered with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory researchers Kang Xu, Oleg Borodin, and Arthur V. Cresce to invent a new Water-in-Salt electrolyte battery that is safer and better for the environment than standard lithium-ion batteries without sacrificing power.

“Our invention has the potential to transform the energy industry by replacing flammable, toxic lithium-ion batteries with our safe, green Water-in-Salt battery,” said Wang. “This technology may increase the acceptance and improve the utility of battery-powered electric vehicles, and enable large-scale energy storage of intermittent energy generators like solar and wind.”


In the Life Sciences Category:

A New Vaccine for Leukemia

UMD researchers Scott Walsh and Lila Kashi collaborated with National Cancer Institute researchers Scott Durum, Julie Hixon, and Wen Qing Li to create an innovative new Leukemia treatment that targets genes in cancer cells that have never been targeted before. The team developed two new antibodies that attack cancer cells and can also be used for diagnostic purposes.

“These antibodies may have the potential to load the oncologist’s tool belt with new treatment strategies for children suffering from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia,” said Walsh, “and the antibodies may also be clinically useful to treat Leukemia in adults.” 


In the Information Sciences category:

New Advancements in Face Detection Technology

UMD researchers Ramalingam Chellappa, Rajeev Ranjan, and Vishal Patel (Ph.D. ’10) invented a new face detection software that can recognize gender and pose and extract reference points from photos. The team envisions the technology will be used in multiple fields, particularly in medical, security, psychology, surveillance, and social networking applications.

“From the early diagnosis of autism to the identification of long-term missing children through aging modeling, this invention has the potential to make a significant impact on human lives,” said Chellappa.

Distinguished University Professor Ben Shneiderman and the Quality Enhancement Systems and Teams (QUEST) honors program were also announced as winners of the Corporate Connector of the Year awards. The award is given each year to an individual and a program in the university that has established partnerships with the private sector in corporate research, philanthropy, and/or student support.  

In addition to the Inventor of the Year Awards and the Corporate Connector of the Year Awards, the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship also conferred the Campus Innovator awards on students who have shown and demonstrated entrepreneurial activities. 

In 2017, the university will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Invention of the Year awards at the Celebration of Innovation and Partnerships. 

See photos from the 2016 Celebration of Innovation and Partnerships event.

May 16, 2016

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Division of Research
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742-1541

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UMD is the only major public research university inside the Washington, DC beltway