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 won the Technology Transfer Working Group Best in Class Award in the Single-Purpose Labs, Plants and Facilities category. The recognition is highly deserved, and I’m very proud of our group: Timothy Meyer, Cherri Schmidt, Mauricio Suarez, Charles Cooper, Ram Dhuley, Michael Geelhoed, Slavica Grdanovska, Robert Kephart (retired), Thomas K. Kroc, Laura J. Rogas, Aaron Sauers, Jayakar (Charles) Thangaraj and Stephany Unruh.
- Aria Soha won the 2020 Servant Leadership Award from the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. She founded the Fermilab chapter of SHPE in 2017, making Fermilab the first DOE national lab to have an SHPE professional chapter.
- Vladimir Shiltsev was selected as an IEEE fellow for his development of electron lenses and contributions to accelerator technology and beam physics. The fellowship is conferred on a person with an outstanding record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest.
- Javier Tiffenberg earned the Universities Research Association Early Career Award for his work to develop a new generation of charge-coupled devices, called CCDs, sensitive enough to detect the recoil of an electron from a collision with a very low-mass dark matter particle.
- Adi Ashkenazi received the Universities Research Association Tollestrup Award for substantial improvements to the modeling of neutrino interactions using electron scattering data and widespread contributions to data acquisition, background modeling and systematics on MicroBooNE.
Finally, I was honored to present those who earned patents and submitted disclosures in 2020.
- 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:
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.