Inventors on the cutting edge of their disciplines

Kiera Manion-Fischer

James Blank, chair of the department of biological sciences, helped develop a device that projects 3-D images onto a screen.

Blank was one of the 33 new inventors honored yesterday at Kent State’s second inventor recognition ceremony, held in the Student Center ballroom.

Each inventor was presented with a glass plaque.

Blank’s invention is already being used in Kent State’s 3-D classroom, and the device is now being marketed to physicians, who may be able to use it to better examine images of the brain and heart.

John West, vice president for research and dean of graduate studies, said inventors must be on the cutting-edge of their disciplines. When an invention is licensed by a company, he said, the royalties are shared between the university and the inventor. The inventor gets 40 percent of the royalties.

Biological sciences professor Christopher Woolverton has worked on two patented inventions. One is a liquid crystal biosensor, which would be used to detect bacteria and viruses immediately.

“Eventually you could have technology that’s portable so the doctor could carry it to the patient’s bedside,” he said.

The other is a polymer system to deliver antibiotics to a localized area of the body, so that they would stay in the infected area and not kill off the body’s helpful bacteria, Woolverton said.

Some inventors, however, choose not to have their work patented.

Joseph Drew, director of the computer accessibility program, along with Ronald Franklin, a graduate student in public administration and Kenneth McElravy, a manufacturing lab technician at the Trumbull campus, invented a switch to allow people with disabilities who can’t use their hands to turn a computer on or off.

“We didn’t want to make any money out of it,” Drew said.

Drew said their invention costs $3 with shipping. The device bypasses a computer’s switch and different touch-sensitive devices can be plugged into it.

Edward Suarez-Moreira, a doctoral candidate in biomedical sciences, developed a procedure to synthesize a derivative of vitamin B-12 along with assistant chemistry professor Nikola Brasch.

Suarez-Moreira said the compound may protect cells from oxidative stress, which is associated with aging, infectious and neurodegenerative diseases.

Their invention has been licensed and patented.

Contact academics reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].