Celebrating innovation at 2021 Inventor Recognition Awards

This year’s Inventor Recognition Award Ceremony was dedicated to Fermilab pioneer Alvin Tollestrup. Photo: Reidar Hahn, Fermilab

On Feb. 25, I hosted our annual Inventor Recognition Awards Ceremony, during which Fermilab honors employees for their technological innovations in a celebration of inventors, creators and entrepreneurs.

Roughly 80 people attended the ceremony, which was held virtually this year. Nine Fermilab inventors earned patents in 2020, and 25 submitted disclosures.

We began the ceremony with a tribute to a Fermilab pioneer, Alvin Tollestrup, who died last year. His work designing and testing superconducting magnets for the Tevatron led to one of Fermilab’s greatest technology transfer success stories: enabling the commercial MRI market. His research publications are cited in more than 40 U.S. patents.

In honor of Tollestrup, the lecture hall in the IARC Office, Technical and Education Building was named the Alvin Tollestrup Auditorium last August.

Last year Director Nigel Lockyer led the dedication of the auditorium. At this year’s ceremony, he again extolled the importance of the kind of scientific innovation and creativity that Tollestrup embodied. The director noted that, for the fifth consecutive year, Fermilab has earned an A- for demonstrating effective transfer of knowledge and technology and the commercialization of intellectual assets, one of the lab’s PEMP goals. This success, he said, is attributed to those who committed to protecting intellectual property, participating in entrepreneurial opportunities, and serving as Fermilab ambassadors to tech transfer communities.

DOE Fermi Site Office Manager Rick Verhaagen, who started in his role on Jan. 4, also remarked on the impressive accomplishments of Fermilab’s inventors, congratulating them on their achievements.

Finally, DOE Chief Commercialization Officer Vanessa Chan highlighted recent examples of how Fermilab has scaled fundamental science for industrial applications, including the compact SRF accelerator and electromagnetic oil mop. She applauded the growth in the number of Fermilab innovations, going from just a couple of patents per year in at the beginning of the 2000s to over 30 in 2019.

We recognized some of the heroes who have received external recognition for their contributions to engineering, technology and entrepreneurship:

Fermilab’s Mohamed Hassan and Donato Passarelli earned a patent in 2020 for their invention enabling the automatic tuning of dressed multicell accelerator cavities using pressurized balloons. Photo: Reidar Hahn, Fermilab

Finally, I was honored to present those who earned patents and submitted disclosures in 2020.

Patent awardees

  • Derek Plant: Railroad block and grade crossing warning system
  • Mohamed Awida Hassan, Donato Passarelli: Automatic tuning of dressed multicell cavities using pressurized balloons
  • Chris Jensen, Howard Pfeffer, Kenneth Quinn, Matthew Kufer: Pulse charging system
  • Alex Lumpkin: Monocrystal-based microchannel plate image intensifier
  • Thomas Kroc: Permanent magnet electron beam and X-ray horn

Disclosures were submitted by:

Kris Anderson
Richard Andrews
Sujit Bidhar
Zuxing Chen
Charles Cooper
Grzegorz Deptuch
Ram Dhuley
Ivan Gonin
Slavica Grdanovska
Chris Green
Stefan Gruenendahl
Timothy Hamerla
Thomas Hein
James Hoff
Thomas Kroc
Gregory Langlois
Marco Mambelli
Roger Milholland
Sandeep Miryala
Thomas Nicol
Jackson O’Donnell
Marc Paterno
Derek Plant
Timothy Ring
Jin-Yuan Wu

I once again congratulate all of our honorees. May the spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship continue to spread throughout the lab.

Cherri Schmidt is the head of the Fermilab Office of Partnerships and Technology Transfer.