Finalists chosen for Lemelson-Illinois prize

CHAMPAIGN — Eight finalists have been chosen for the $30,000 Lemelson-Illinois prize for student entrepreneurs, and the winner will be announced next week.

The prize awards innovative and entrepreneurial students interested in solving grand challenges.

The winner will be announced Monday at the Seibel Center on campus, 201 N. Goodwin Ave., U. The innovation showcase will begin at 5 p.m. and the ceremony starts at 5:30 p.m. The event is open to the public.

The prize is named after inventor Jerome Lemelson and is funded by The Lemelson Foundation. It's administered by the College of Engineering. Lemelson and his wife Dorothy founded the Lemelson-MIT Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994. The $30,000 prize at Illinois is funded through a partnership with the Lemelson-MIT Program.

Finalists for the 2013 Lemelson-Illinois Student Prize:

— Arnab Mukherjee, a Ph.D. candidate in chemical and biomolecular engineering. Mukherjee has worked on a keyboard design for patients with motor disabilities, the development of low-cost and point-of-care medical diagnostic devices, and bio-imaging tools to advance industrial and pharmaceutical bio-production and cancer research.

— Brett Jones, a Ph.D. candidate in computer science. Brett's background in human computer interaction and computer vision has enabled him to work on computer vision techniques. His most recent project, IllumiRoom, augments the area surrounding a television screen with projected visualizations to enhance the traditional living room entertainment experience. IllumiRoom uses a Kinect and a projector to blur the lines between on-screen content and the environment. It uses a technology called projection mapping, where video projectors superimpose virtual objects onto physical reality, creating visual effects on everyday, non-flat objects.

— Brett Walker, a Ph.D. candidate in materials science and engineering. While in high school, Walker co-founded BioTek Fuels to convert waste grease into biodiesel, which spun off into Enviroclaim, a company that converted waste crude oil into pipeline grade oil. His most recent project is in reactive silver inks. Electroninks Inc. was founded to commercialize reactive silver inks for the printed electronic marketplace.

— Eduardo Torrealba, master's degree student in mechanical science and engineering. Oso Technologies' first product, Plant Link, monitors the moisture needs of specific plants and can deliver water on an as-needed basis using smart valves. This wireless product will make agricultural water resource management easier and more affordable than ever on a global scale.

— Eleni Antoniadou, Ph.D. candidate in bioengineering. Antoniadou is conducting research in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine and has been in projects that involve the development of artificial skin, nerves and brain implants, and more. She co-founded the startup Transplants Without Donors with the vision to provide artificial organs as a life-saving alternative therapy, but also as a means to give an end to the illicit organ trafficking that is rising in developing countries.

— Lucas Smith, master's degree student in molecular and cellular biology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Since Smith founded the company BioAnalytics, he has acted as a research director of over 45 student employees developing a rapid point-of-care device, medical image refinement technology, high-efficiency solar thermal dishes, and computer software. BioAnalytics is preparing to launch several products, including an extension, Illuminate, which facilitates web browsing by automatically navigating users to material relevant to their searches, as well as technologies which increase water efficiency and reduce the spread of pathogens in lavatories.

— Michael McCarty, a senior in bioengineering. McCarty is an entrepreneur majoring in bioengineering focusing on scalable solutions to device interconnectivity problems. McCarty is the co-founder of Prawg Inc., a startup aiming to revolutionize the way people interact with their TVs. He also is working on his senior design project, which is the creation of filtration and detection devices that detect minimal levels of bacterial contamination in raw materials using cutting edge technologies. He also is an undergraduate researcher in a lab where he develops epidermal electronics that have a wide range of research, clinical, and public applications.

— Rajinder Sodhi, a Ph.D. candidate in computer science. New devices like the Kinect allow users to interact with computers by gesturing. Rajinder's invention, AIREAL, allows users to feel physical forces in the air without requiring any instrumentation of the user. This technology enables new interactive experiences, such as movies and games that can deliver physical forces to a viewer. Other applications include assistive technologies for visually-impaired users.

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