COVID-19 Inventor Showcase

A partnership between CCTS, OSU Corporate Engagement Office and Nationwide Children's Office of Technology Commercialization

The CCTS’s Translational Innovation Program, in partnership with the Corporate Engagement Office and Nationwide Children's Hospital's Office of Technology Commercialization, launched an in-person monthly Startup Inventor Showcase in January 2020. We pivoted our programming to a fully virtual panel series in June 2020 to highlight experts who are collaborating together to fight against COVID-19 on our front lines of innovation at an unprecedented pace.  

The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, behind the global pandemic has killed over 400,000 people, with the toll rising by thousands every day. Combating the virus, which causes a highly contagious infection, COVID-19, has dramatically reshaped and galvanized the innovation ecosystem spurring an unprecedented rate of innovation. There is still plenty of work to do. At a conference on June 9, 2020, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health, said, “More than six months into this pandemic, this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal. This is the time for countries to continue to work hard.”

To inspire ongoing innovations and collaborations in the fight against COVID-19, the new Monthly Speaker Series aims to promote an entrepreneurial mindset among clinicians, faculty, senior leaders, students and staff of The Ohio State University and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Since academic entrepreneurship is a team sport, the series will provide a forum for showcasing COVID-19 innovations as well as key resources in the innovation ecosystem.

Some of the goals of the new series are to:

  • Showcase unprecedented innovations, collaborations and private-public partnerships developed in the fight against the pandemic
  • Feature inventors from a variety of fields and their exemplary work at the intersection of academic achievement, science, technology, and business in the fight against COVID-19.
  • Animate entrepreneurship as an exciting pathway and outcome of university research to address the most urgent and critical health challenge of our time.
  • Demystify and nurture an entrepreneurial mindset among our clinicians, faculty and students
  • Introduce and bring together representatives from the various support services, resources, funding mechanisms, training and guidance available to inventors
  • Inspire new innovation teams to address various aspects of the pandemic from discovery to prevention to therapies.

The panel speaker series will be offered once a month and only through a virtual platform.

There will be time for Q&A following the panel discussions. All are welcome.

Questions? Please contact Dr. Tanya Mathew.

June COVID-19 Inventor Showcase

Handheld Ultrasound Diagnosis of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing global pandemic first declared by the World Health Organization a year ago on March 11, 2020. As of March 30 2021, more than 127 million cases have been confirmed, with more than 2.79 million deaths attributed to COVID-19, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in history.  Turnaround times and accessibility remains an issue with existing COVID-19 diagnostic tests and there is a need for better, faster COVID-19 diagnostic tools for the masses.  Register to learn how an Ohio State civil, environmental and geodetic engineering professor, Professor Alper Yilmaz, PhD student Shehan Perera and other team members combined ultrasound scans of the lung with deep learning technology to identify COVID-19. The handheld diagnostic test takes less than 10 minutes, including scanning and sanitization time.  

Date: June 22nd, 2021, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


June Inventor Team  

Alper Yilmaz, Ph.D

Professor, Geo-Informatics

Michael Karnes, MS

Graduate Research Associate

Shehan R Perera MS

Graduate Research Associate

Srikar Adhikari, MD, MS

Professor & Emergency Ultrasound Chief, University of Arizona

Featured Campus Resources

  • Civil Environmental & Geodetic Engineering

Allison MacKay, PhD, BCCEM

  • Photogrammetric Computer Vision Lab

Alper Yilmaz, Ph.D

Inventor Bios

Alper Yilmaz, PhD is Professor of Geo-Informatics with appointment in Civil Environmental and Geodetic Engineering Department at The Ohio State University. He is a senior member of the U.S. National Academy of Inventors, senior member of IEEE and an active member of ASPRS, ISPRS and IAPR professional societies. Dr. Yilmaz is currently chairing the Working Group 5 on Dynamic Scene Understanding of ISPRS Technical Commission II. He is serving as Editor-In-Chief for the Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing Journal. During his leadership of the PE&RS journal, the impact factor has increased to its highest since its first volume in 1934. In 2019, PE&RS was ranked 19th most downloaded journal among all 11,000 titles on Ingenta Connect Platform. He has served as Associate Editor for the Computer Vision and Image Understanding Journal between 2014 and 2016 and the Machine Vision and Applications Journal between 2006 and 2011. Among other honors, he was awarded the Lumley Research Award (OSU) in 2012, and the Lumley Interdisciplinary Research Award (OSU) in 2015, honorable mention for the Masao Horiba Award (Japan) in 2016, Presidential citation in 2019 from the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, and selected as finalist for the Innovator of the Year Award at The Ohio State University in 2020. He has advised 22 PhD students to completion on topics ranging from object tracking, 3D scene recovery, machine learning, and data mining who have found position in prominent academic institutions, industry and government. He can be reached at


Michael Karnes, a PhD candidate in the Photogrammetric Computer Vision (PCV) lab, has a diverse history of device development with a Mechanical Engineering foundation. While in undergrad, Michael found a passion for medical devices during his internship with Ethicon Endo-Surgery (EES), where he helped in the development in the Harmonic Scalpel and the Sedasys automated anesthesia machine. For his master's degree, he developed and demonstrated an electrical impedance imaging system for quantitative tumor margin assessment. Currently, he is working with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in developing machine learning algorithms for video processing. When the pandemic hit, Michael saw a clear crossover between the image analysis he was doing for AFRL and a need for rapid Covid-19 diagnostics. As a result, in collaboration with his team, they have developed an image recognition algorithm for point-of-care Covid-19 ultrasound diagnostics.

Shehan Perera is a PhD student in Electical and Computer Engineering advised by Dr. Alper Yilmaz. Currently he is a Graduate Research Associate working on medical imaging mainly with Ultra Sound/Computed Tomography modalities and visual navigation/localization for GPS denied UAV systems. He has prior experience as a Machine Learning intern at a defense contracting firm analyzing large scale satellite imagery. Most recently he has worked with Sandia National Lab's Applied Machine Intelligence team on unstructured physics data as a research and development intern.

June COVID-19 Inventor Showcase

Increasing Ventilator Capacity

SARS-CoV-2 can cause severe lung damage leading to respiratory failure. Estimates so far show that about 6% of patients affected with COVID-19 get critically sick, and about a quarter of those may need respiratory assistance via a ventilator. Mechanical ventilation can be a life-saving intervention resulting in improved patient outcomes; however, the current surge in demand has led to a worldwide shortage. Join us to learn how experts at Ohio State joined forces to develop a safe, effective and low-cost way of doubling ventilator capacity.

June COVID-19 Inventor Team         

  • Syed Husain, MD, FACS, FASCRS, Associate Professor of Surgery-Clinical, Department of Surgery
  • Walter Hansen, MS, Mechanical/Systems, CDME
  • Daniel Vazquez, MD, Founder, CREATE & Surgery faculty, Cleveland Clinic

June Innovation Resource Team

  • Mary Hoffman Pancake, MS, PMP, Program Manager, Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence.   
  • Sheryl Pfeil, MD, Medical Director, The Clinical Skills Education and Assessment Center (CSEAC)
  • Jay Read, The Clinical Skills Education and Assessment Center (CSEAC)
  • Amanda Haney MS, APRN-CNP, Associate Director, CREATE: Center for Research, Education, and Transdisciplinary Exploration
  • Cindy Byrd DNP, ACNP-BC, Director APP Transition to Practice Fellow & Advance Practice Manager Critical Care

Questions? Please contact Dr. Tanya Mathew, CCTS.


Dr. Syed Husain

Dr. Syed Husain is a Colorectal Surgeon who serves as an Associate Professor of Surgery at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. He earned his medical degree from Dow Medical College Karachi, Pakistan. After completion of General Surgery residency at Harlem Hospital Center in New York, Dr. Husain went on to complete a Fellowship in Minimally Invasive Surgery at University of Rochester, NY followed by a Fellowship in Colon and Rectal Surgery at Brown University, RI.

Dr. Husain is Board Certified in General Surgery and Colon and Rectal Surgery, and is a member of several professional organizations. He is the recipient of several teaching and achievement awards and research grants. His clinical interests include evaluation and application of new surgical techniques and technology to the field of colorectal surgery with special focus towards utilization of minimally invasive platform for the treatment of colorectal disease. He has extensively studied clinical outcomes in surgery and has authored multiple peer-reviewed publications in the fields of Minimally Invasive and Colorectal Surgery. In addition to clinical research, Dr. Husain has a keen interest in medical device development including research involving surgical ergonomic devices and pelvic floor biofeedback equipment.

Walt Hansen

Walt Hansen is a staff mechanical engineer at CDME. He earned a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Ohio State and worked in manufacturing for 15 years before returning to work at the University. He now manages the Artificially Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (AIMS) Lab at CDME, along with Prof. Mike Groeber, where they execute advanced robotics projects for industry.

Dr. Daniel Vazquez

Dr. Daniel Vazquez is a Critical Care Surgeon, Board Certified in General Surgery and Surgery Critical Care. He was born is San Juan, Puerto Rico where he lived until attending Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. While at Brown he received a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in Engineering and Hispanic Studies in 2000, and his Medical Degree in 2006. Prior to attending medical school he attended the International Space University in Strasbourg, France where he was awarded a Master of Science in Space Studies in 2001.  

In 2014 Dr. Vazquez completed his Surgical Critical Care Fellowship at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Upon completion of his fellowship he joined the Trauma, Critical Care and Burn Department at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center as an assistant professor of surgery. He was subsequently promoted to Medical Director of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit and Associate Director of the Surgical Critical Care Fellowship.  He has authored and co-authored 11 peer-reviewed publications. In 2018 he founded and became the Director of the OSUWMC Center for Research, Education and Transdisciplinary Exploration (CREATE).

July COVID-19 Inventor Showcase

Enhancing Innate COVID-19 Immunity

The race to find a cure for COVID-19 began on January 10, 2020 when the Chinese government released the genetic sequence of the virus – SARS-CoV-2 – responsible for the global pandemic of an extremely spreadable and potentially fatal disease. Researchers around the world began to build bits of the virus in their labs to develop therapies, with the aim of making us immune. Join us to learn how researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital developed a method for generating large numbers of clinical-grade Natural Killer (NK) cells for cancer therapy which has the potential to augment the innate immunity of high-risk patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 disease and to prevent progression to severe COVID-19 disease.

July COVID-19 Inventor Team

• Chris P. Ouellette, MDSection of Infectious Diseases and Host Defense Program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Assistant professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. 

• Dean Anthony Lee, MD, PhD, Division of Hematology and Oncology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and the DiMarco Family Endowed Chair in Cell Based Therapy.

July Innovation Resource Team

  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital Drug and Device Development Services: Kevin Bosse, PhD, RAC
  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital Host Defense Program: Christopher P. Ouellette, MD
  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital Cellular Therapy and Cancer Immunology Program: Margaret Lamb, MD 
  • OSU/NCH Campus GMP Facilities for Cell Therapy Manufacturing:  Dean Lee, MD, PhD


Dr. Chris Ouelette

Dr. Ouellette is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. He is a member of the Host Defense Program, a group of Infectious Disease physicians devoted to the management of infections in immunocompromised children. Dr. Ouellette’s clinical and research interests include management of infectious diseases in children, with an emphasis on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of infections in immunocompromised children. His primary research interest includes novel therapeutic approaches, in particular adoptive immunotherapies, for treatment of resistant or refractory viral infections in children.

Dr. Dean Anthony Lee

Dr. Lee is Professor of Pediatrics and DiMarco Family Endowed Chair in Cell Based Therapy at Nationwide Children's Hospital. He is the founding Director of the Cellular Therapy and Cancer Immunotherapy Program, a joint program between NCH and The Ohio State University James Cancer Hospital. Dr. Lee conducts clinical and translational research on natural killer (NK) cells and their potential for cancer immunotherapy.

His laboratory identified a crucial role for IL-21 and STAT3 signaling in NK cell function and proliferation, which has enabled a method for large-scale propagation of clinical-grade NK cells for adoptive transfer. NK cells expanded with this approach have been infused into adult and pediatric patients with leukemia, brain tumors, and solid tumors in investigator-initiated Phase I trials. Dr. Lee is chair of the Cellular Therapy Strategy Group for the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium, member of the NIH Novel and Exceptional Technology and Research Advisory Committee and member of the Cell Therapy Steering Committee of the Children’s Oncology Group.

His work in cancer immunotherapy and cellular therapy has been supported by NIH, DOD and numerous foundation research grants, and has led to over 100 peer-reviewed publications, patents, and commercial licenses. Dr. Lee practices clinically in the area of bone marrow transplantation, with a particular interest in haplotransplantation and cellular therapy.

August COVID-19 Inventor Showcase

Rapid COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing

The number of confirmed new COVID-19 cases is expected to continue rising as more businesses reopen. A rapid point-of-care confirmatory diagnostic test is essential to help safely re-enter society. The current gold-standard molecular diagnostic assay, quantitative reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR assay, although accurate, is labor intensive and time consuming. The time to results can range from 4 hours to several days. Thus, a major unmet need is a rapid, accurate, sensitive, and affordable COVID-19 confirmatory diagnostic test. Join our upcoming live webinar to learn how a team of inventors are attempting to develop a molecular COVID-19 diagnostic test that can not only be manufactured quickly but also generates results in less than 1 hour.

August COVID-19 Inventor Team

  • Carlos E. Castro, PhD, Associate Professor, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
  • Patrick D. Halley, MS, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
  • Christopher R. Lucas, PhD, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
  • Melika Shahhosseini, BS, PhD Candidate, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering 

August Innovation Resource Team

  • Jan Weisenberger, PhD, Ohio State Office of Research
  • Art Gooray, PhD, Ohio State Corporate Engagement Office, Faculty Alliances for Engineering
  • Muyang Hu, Rev1 Ventures

Speaker Bios

Professor Castro received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering both from the Ohio State University and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was post-doctoral fellow at the Technische Universität München working in structural DNA nanotechnology. Dr. Castro joined OSU in 2011 as a faculty member and is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and a faculty member of the OSU Biophysics Graduate Program.

His research focuses on the self-assembly of DNA nanodevices for biophysical and biomedical applications. Dr. Castro’s laboratory has pioneered the use of engineering mechanics and design approaches for the development of DNA nanomachines with complex motion, dynamic behavior, and programmed stimulus response. A major goal of his current research is to develop nanodevices for measurement, manipulation, and drug delivery in biological systems. He has received honors including OSU research and teaching awards, an NSF CAREER award, an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship, and a Fulbright Research Scholar Award.

Patrick Halley is an Engineering Research Associate in the Nanoengineering and Biodesign Lab in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the Ohio State University. He received a B.S. and M.S in Chemical Engineering from Ohio State. Working for Battelle before returning to OSU to continue his previous research in the targeted delivery of anthracycline drugs in Acute Myeloid Leukemia, which along with Drs. Castro, Lucas and John Byrd, he received a patent for the design.  Additionally, he developed a method to scale up fabrication of DNA origami nanostructures from basic research to pre-clinical amounts, using basic laboratory equipment. He specializes in work that combines design and engineering work with clinical applications.

Melika Shahhosseini is a 4th year Ph.D candidate in the Nanoengineering and Biodesign Lab in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the Ohio State University. She received her B.S in Mechanical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology, Iran. She joined Ohio State in Fall 2016 and has been working in the Nanoengineering and Biodesign Lab under the supervision of Dr. Carlos Castro since then. Her research is focused on using DNA origami structures to study cellular interactions and to manipulate cellular junctions. She was recently awarded the Pelotonia fellowship in early 2020 to study cell interactions with cancer biomarkers in ECM. She is skilled in the design and implementation of DNA nanodevices for biological applications.

Christopher Lucas completed his undergraduate studies in Biochemistry and his graduate work in the Integrated Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program at The Ohio State University. He conducted his PhD dissertation research in Molecular and Cellular Immunology in the laboratory of Dr. Virginia Sanders studying molecular mechanisms of antibody regulation by a B cell. He then engaged in Postdoctoral studies in the Nanoengineering and Biodesign Laboratory within the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at The Ohio State University under the mentorship of Dr. Carlos Castro and in the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center under Dr. John Byrd, leading Hematologist and Distinguished University Professor.

He is currently appointed as a Research Scientist, under the direction of Drs. Castro and Byrd focusing on developing novel DNA origami nanostructures for biomedical applications including developing novel targeted drug delivery systems for leukemia and diagnostic bio-sensing devices. He aspires to become a leading researcher in nanomedicine and life sciences biotechnology entrepreneur.   

September COVID-19 Inventor Showcase

A Breath Test For COVID-19

In March, the Novel Coronavirus Disease, COVID-19, was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Without innate immunity to the novel virus and with the lack of therapeutic means to treat it, the only way to contain the spread of this disease further is through early diagnosis. For many infected individuals the disease remains asymptomatic- yet the disease carriers can potentially transmit COVID-19 and infect more of the population. This work proves that there is a viable pathway towards the early and rapid detection of infection COVID-19 caused by the novel beta coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. We demonstrate here a disruptive approach to infectious disease diagnosis and to the detection of COVID-19 specifically. This approach involves sampling the breath of humans for specific gaseous biomarkers of the disease and identifying a breath-print -signature of active COVID-19 infection. 

September COVID-19 Inventor Team

  • Perena Gouma, PhD, Endowed Chair in Ceramic Engineering 
  • Andrew Bowman, MS, DVM, PhD, Veterinary Preventive Medicine
  • Matthew Exline MD, Pulmonary Disease & Critical Care Medicine

September Innovation Resource Team

  • Caroline Crisafulli, Ohio State ADVANCE
  • Michelle Bright, Clinical Trials Management Organization 
  • Ryan M. Haley, MBOE, Ambulatory Services, Wexner Medical Center

Speaker Bios

P. Gouma

Dr. Pelagia-Irene (Perena) Gouma is currently theEdward Orton Jr., Chair in Ceramic Engineering at The Ohio State University. Her previous appointment was with the Institute of Predictive Performance Methodologies (IPPM) and with the MSE Dept. (tenured Full Professor) at the University of Texas-Arlington. Before that, for 16 years, she was a Professor at the State University of New York in Stony Brook, and the Founder and Director of the Center for Nanomaterials and Sensor Development (CNSD).

She holds a B.Sc. degree in Applied Physics from the Aristotelian University in Thessaloniki Greece; a M.Sc. (Eng) degree in Materials from the University of Liverpool, UK and a M.Phil in Organizational Management from the same Institution. She received her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from The University of Birmingham in the UK. Dr. Gouma’s research activities involve the synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials for bio-/chemical sensors and biotechnology. Dr. Gouma has pioneered the development of personalized artificial olfaction systems, in particular the single exhale and diagnostic breath analyzer. Dr. Gouma has established novel and highly successful programs on nanomedicine, with emphasis on the development of non-invasive breath and skin-based diagnostic tools.

Other areas of her research include photocatalysts and sorbents for remediating water from petroleum hydrocarbon pollutants and self-supported photocatalytic blankets that float on water and produce energy from photochemical water splitting. She has been featured as an expert in nanomaterials, ceramics, sensors, and photocatalysts in numerous press releases (Science Nation, IOP, Science press, NPR, NBC news, Fox news, Fast Company, etc.). She has published over 140 peer-reviewed articles, 18 book chapters and editorials, and a monograph. She also holds 18 patents (both US and International).

She is a member of the National Academy of Inventors, she was a Fulbright Scholar to UNICAMP in Brazil, and she has received the prestigious Richard M. Fulrath award of The American Ceramic Society. She is a Fellow of The American Ceramic Society (2019). She was the sole Chair of the 2011 ISOEN Conference. Dr. Gouma can be reached at: Website:

October COVID-19 Inventor Showcase

Constructing a COVID-19 Vaccine

Messenger RNA (mRNA)-based vaccine is one of the leading candidates for fighting against COVID-19. In our work, we systematically investigated the untranslated regions (UTRs) of mRNAs in order to enhance antigen production. Through a comprehensive analysis and engineering of UTRs, we identified the optimal UTR sequences, termed as NASAR, which significantly enhanced the production of SARS-CoV-2 antigens. The NASAR mRNA encoding SARS-CoV-2 antigens induced strong immune responses in mice. More importantly, this novel mRNA-based platform provide broad applicability to a wide variety of therapeutic applications.

October Inventor Team

  • Chunxi Zeng, PhD, Pharmaceutics and Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy
  • Yizhou Dong, PhD, Pharmaceutics and Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy 

October Innovation Resource Team

  • Paul Stoodley, PhD, Campus Microscopy and Imaging Facility
  • Jeffrey Chalmers, PhD, Flow Cytometry Shared Resource 
  • Richard K. Wilson, PhD, Genomics Shared Resource
  • Amanda Ewart Toland, PhD, FACMG, Genomics Shared Resource


Yizhou Dong is an Associate Professor in the Division of Pharmaceutics and Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy at The Ohio State University. He received his B.S. in pharmaceutical sciences from Peking University, Health Science Center and M.S. in organic chemistry from Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry. In 2009, he received his Ph.D. degree in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) under the supervision of Professor K.-H. Lee. From 2010 to 2014, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professors Robert Langer and Daniel Anderson at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

His research focuses on the design and development of biotechnology platforms for the treatment of genetic disorders, infectious diseases, and cancers. Dr. Dong has authored over seventy papers and patents. Several of his inventions have been licensed and are currently under development as drug candidates for clinical trials. Dr. Dong is the recipient of Early Career Investigator Award from the Bayer Hemophilia Awards Program, Young Innovator in Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering from the Biomedical Engineering Society, Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), and Ohio State Early Career Innovator of the Year. Dr. Dong can be reached at: Website:

Chunxi Zeng is currently a Research Scientist at the Department of Pathology, College of Medicine at The Ohio State University. His B.S. degree in Biotechnology was received from Sichuan University. In 2016, he obtained his Ph.D. degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Ohio University mentored by Professor Jennifer Hines. His Ph.D. research focused on bacterial RNA-targeted drug discovery. From 2016 to 2020, he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the laboratory of Associate Professor Yizhou Dong in the Division of Pharmaceutics and Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy at The Ohio State University. His postdoc research focused on the engineering of novel mRNA sequences for diverse translational applications. 

December COVID-19 Inventor Showcase

Accelerated Mass Manufacturing of NP Swabs

We are currently in the middle of a third surge of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.A. with tens of thousands of new cases reported daily nationwide. Around the world, close to 40.5 million people have contracted COVID-19 and more than 1.1 million have died, according to Johns Hopkins University’s most recent data.  CDC projects up to 282,000 US COVID-19 deaths by December 5. Surprisingly, one of the biggest bottlenecks in the soaring demand for diagnoses has neither involved complex machines to detect genetic material nor molecular biology. It’s been a shortage of nasopharyngeal swabs for collecting samples. Join us on December 15th to learn how an Ohio State coalition of university scientists, engineers and manufacturers came together to share resources and expertise to combat this shortage in the state of Ohio. The 3D printed nasal pharyngeal swabs are meeting the dire demand for testing in Ohio.

December Inventor Team  

Jay Sayre, PhD

  • Assistant VP, Materials & Manufacturing Sustainability, Office of Research & Director, Institute for Materials Research
  • Research Associate Professor, Materials Science and Engineering

Fonda Robinson, DMD, FACP

  • Associate Dean, Clinic Administration and Patient Care, College of Dentistry
  • Interim Chair, Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
  • Associate Professor, Restorative and Prosthetic Dentistry, College of Dentistry

Seth Faith, PhD

Nate Ames

Featured Campus Resources

  • Jay Sayre, PhD, Institute for Materials Research (IMR)
  • Mary Hoffman-Pancake, NEW! Medical Modelling, Materials and Manufacturing Lab
  • Seth Faith, PhD, NEW! Applied Microbiology Services Lab                             

Inventor Bios

Nate Ames is the Executive Director for OSU’s Center for Design and Manufacturing (CDME). His role in CDME leverages his professional experiences as an entrepreneur, manager, and production engineer. Nate did both his undergraduate and graduate work at OSU in Welding Engineering. He spent the first five years of his professional career at Swagelok Company as a manufacturing engineering and later as a product development and research engineer. Following Swagelok, Nate spent 11 years at EWI where he held the roles of Engineering Manager for the Material Science group, Business Development Manager for the energy and chemical market segments and was the Director for a public-private center focused on advance fabrication technologies for the nuclear industry. He then moved into an entrepreneurial period where he launched several companies in different markets ranging from energy infrastructure, health products processing equipment and electronics. Nate sold the majority of his ventures prior to joining OSU. He joined the university specifically to help create CDME, largely based on the gaps he identified while doing product development and commercialization throughout his career.

Dr. Fonda G. Robinson is the Associate Dean for Clinic Administration and Patient Care and an Associate Professor in the Division of Restorative and Prosthetic Dentistry, College of Dentistry at The Ohio State University. She received her B.S. in biology from the University of Kentucky (UK) and earned a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree from the UK College of Dentistry. Dr. Robinson completed her residency training earning a certificate in Prosthodontics from the Dental College of Georgia (DCG) at Augusta University. Following her residency program, Dr. Robinson served on the faculty at DCG for several years before returning to Kentucky to practice dentistry. She was then recruited to the UK College of Dentistry’s faculty. While at the UK College of Dentistry, Dr. Robinson served as Division Chief of Prosthodontics, Division Chief of Restorative Dentistry, Assistant Dean for Pre-Doctoral Clinical Operations, and Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs.  She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Prosthodontics. Dr. Robinson also served on the faculty at the Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry in Nashville, TN. She practices fixed implant prosthodontics in the College’s intramural dental practice. She blends her clinical and administrative interests with research/scholarly interests and has authored thirty-four peer-reviewed articles. Dr. Robinson can be reached at

Julie Amling is the director of supply chain purchasing operations at OSU Wexner Medical Center. She earned her Master’s in Health Administration from OSU and her Bachelor’s from Butler University. In addition to her service at Wexner Medical Center, Julie has worked at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Nationwide Children’s Research Institute, and at St. Francis Medical Center in Indianapolis. Julie has more than 25 years of experience in healthcare working in a variety of areas including strategic planning, process improvement, project management, women’s health, and communications and marketing. In addition, Julie has assisted with the start-up of three women-owned businesses and volunteered for 13 years as a Girl Scout Leader.

Dr. Seth A. Faith is currently the Executive Director for the Center of Microbiome Science and a Director of Strategic Alliances for the Infectious Diseases Institute at The Ohio State University. Dr. Faith has co-led the establishment of the Ohio State University Applied Microbiology Services Laboratory (AMSL), which is currently providing the on-campus COVID19 testing. He previously held positions as an assistant professor at North Carolina State University and as research leader in Biosecurity at Battelle Memorial Institute, a non-profit research organization.

Dr. Faith has led numerous industry and US government-sponsored research and development programs for next-generation sequencing (NGS) and genomics, producing the world’s first system for forensic NGS analysis, a Cloud-based bioinformatics platform, and an artificial intelligence method for identifying global environmental microbiomes Presently, Dr. Faith serves in advisory roles for committees that oversee the standards development in the US, including The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (SWGDAM), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) Standards Board (ASB).

He has a Ph.D. in Biomedical Science from Northeast Ohio Medical University and received specialized biodefense training as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Dr. Faith can be reached at Website: and

Dr. Jay Sayre is an Assistant Vice President in the Office of Research and the Director of Innovation for the Institute for Materials Research at The Ohio State University. He is also a Research Associate Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering department where his interdisciplinary research interests are based in innovation and translating science into products through applied research and polymer engineering science. Specifically, his focus is on polymers and composites, fuel cells, electrode structures, advanced threat armor, dynamic mechanical analysis, fracture analysis, and innovation models, tools, and practices. Prior to joining Ohio State, Dr. Sayre held the positions of Director of Advanced Materials and Internal Research and Development at Battelle Memorial Institute.  He is an inventor of several commercialized technologies in the areas of fuel cells, impact barriers, and vehicle armor. He holds a PhD in Materials Engineering Science and a BS in Chemical Engineering from Virginia Tech, as well as a Master of Science in Polymer Engineering from the University of Tennessee. Dr. Sayre can be reached at: and

February COVID-19 Inventor Showcase

Novel Indoor Monitoring Techniques for SARS-CoV-2

The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, is commonly spread indoors, where it is shed from its human host into the surrounding environment. This feature has facilitated transmission, but may also allow for convenient monitoring for COVID-19 outbreaks. This environmental surveillance will remain a critical tool to monitor high-risk populations, even after widespread vaccination.

Learn how an interdisciplinary team from Ohio State and University of Notre Dame have developed a convenient and novel indoor monitoring technique that uses vacuumed dust. Bulk dust was collected from rooms of individuals isolated after a COVID-19 positive test. The dust was identified as the most convenient and reliable sampling method due to both RNA concentration levels and the percentages of samples that were positive when compared to surface swabs and a passive sampler. This method could complement wastewater monitoring efforts by providing a more convenient sample collection protocol by using vacuumed dust that is already being collected as part of normal cleaning practices.

February Inventor Team  

  • Karen Dannemiller, PhD 

Assistant Professor, College of Engineering, College of Public Health & Sustainability Institute

  • Natalie Hull, PhD

Assistant Professor, College of Engineering, Sustainability Institute

  • Nicole Renninger, BS

Graduate Research Assistant, College of Engineering

  • Nicholas Nastasi, BS

Graduate Research Assistant, Environmental Science

Featured Campus Resources

The Sustainability Institute

Inventor Bios

Dr. Karen Dannemiller’s unique background combines both engineering and public health to tackle difficult questions with regards to exposures in the built environment. She graduated with honors in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering from Brown University and earned her Ph.D. at Yale University in Chemical and Environmental Engineering. Dr. Dannemiller has a joint appointment between Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering, and Environmental Health Sciences, with a courtesy appointment in Microbiology, Dr. Dannemiller is also a core faculty member in the Sustainability Institute at The Ohio State University. She was the recipient of the Denman Distinguished Research Mentor Award, the IMR Early Career Innovator of the Year, the Buckeye Engineering Women in Executive Leadership (BEWEL) Leadership in Innovation Award, the Lumley Engineering Research Award, and the NSF CAREER award.

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Dr. Natalie Hull's dedication to safe water was ingrained by her Central Appalachian heritage, where creeks and streams were polluted by inadequate sewage management and irresponsible natural resource extraction. For her BS in Civil Engineering, Natalie researched slow sand filters for microbial water treatment in developing countries. This undergraduate research experience captivated Natalie by the intersection of environmental microbiology and engineering.

For her MS in Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, she investigated mammalian toxicity of engineered nanoparticles. As a post-graduate professional researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder in the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology department and in the Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering department, she explored microbial ecology and toxicity of water in built environments including tap water and hydraulic fracturing wastewater. For her PhD in Environmental Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, she studied molecular mechanisms of water disinfection by ultraviolet light and sustainable applications for rural and small water systems.

Natalie is building on her convergent engineering and microbiology background, and graduate certificates in both teaching and mentoring, to inspire and educate students to sustainably engineer safe water for the health and enjoyment of current and future generations. She leads the Water TEAM (Treatment Engineering and Microbiome) research group in applying emerging molecular biology tools, novel sensors, big data analyses, and optimized treatment technologies to better understand and control microbiomes in natural and engineered waters to protect public and environmental health.

Nicole Renninger is a second year MS student in Environmental Engineering at the Ohio State University. She currently works as a graduate student researcher in the Indoor Environmental Quality Laboratory on a DAGSI fellowship working with the Air Force Research Laboratories. Nicole received her BS in Biological Engineering at the Ohio State University in 2019 with Honors Research Distinction. Her interests and research focuses on characterizing and improving microbial measurement related to the indoor environment to find new associations with human health outcomes and materials degradation.

Nicholas Nastasi received his Associates of Science as an Honors Scholar Graduate from Columbus State Community College. In 2018, he graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.S and Honors Research Distinction in Environmental Engineering. Currently, he is pursuing a graduate degree at The Ohio State University in the Environmental Science Graduate Program with a specialization in Environmental Public Health.

Previous research experience includes geochemical and microbial analyses of hydraulic fracturing fluids. He has also investigated how fungal growth and allergen production in carpet and house dust is affected by relative humidity. Currently, his research focuses on a collaboration with NASA to modeling microbial growth and communities from dust collected from the International Space Station. He is also working on how aerosolized viruses deposited on carpet and dust can persist in these materials.

March COVID-19 Inventor Showcase

From Breast Reconstruction to COVID-19 Face Masks 

Since the breakout of COVID-19, face masks are not only in critical short supply, but have major shortcomings related to the materials the masks are made of. It is therefore of utmost importance to produce not only more but also better masks. The currently available cloth face masks mitigate the possibility of spreading the virus but they neither protect the wearer nor are they comfortable, absorbing exhaled moisture. N95 masks do protect the wearer but are not very comfortable, impede breathing, and users experience problems such as eyeglasses fogging due to the increase in temperature and humidity between the face and the mask. In addition, fake N95 masks are infiltrating the market increasing risks and giving a false sense of security to the wearer. Come join us on March 16 to learn how the Puskas group are harnessing 20 years of innovation in breast reconstruction to develop a new rubbery face mask that combines comfort with function, branded as the “Buckeye Mask”.

Inventor Bios

Judit E. Puskas, Ph. D., P. Eng, Distinguished Professor 


External member, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Co-inventor of the polymer coating on the Taxus drug-eluting coronary stent, implanted in over 10 million people

Dr. Puskas received a PhD in plastics and rubber technology in 1985, and an M. E. Sc in organic and biochemical engineering in 1977, from the Technical University of Budapest, Hungary. Her advisors were Professors Ferenc Tüdös and Tibor Kelen of Hungary, and Professor Joseph P. Kennedy at the University of Akron, Ohio, USA, in the framework of collaboration between the National Science Foundation of the USA and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. She started her academic career in 1996. Before that she was involved in polymer research and development in the microelectronic, paint and rubber industries. Her present interests include the integration of breast reconstruction and cancer research, green polymer chemistry, biomimetic processes and biomaterials, living/controlled polymerizations, polymerization mechanisms and kinetics, thermoplastic elastomers and polymer structure/property relationships, and probing the polymer-bio interface. Puskas has been published in more than 430 publications, including technical reports, is an inventor or co-inventor of 33 U.S. patents and applications, and has been Chair or organizer of a number of international conferences. Puskas has been awarded her first NIH grant (the first ever in the Department of Polymer Science) in 2010, and has had 7 NSF Grants since 2005, including a Special Creativity Extension in 2013. She is the recipient of several awards, including the 1999 PEO (Professional Engineers of Ontario, Canada) Medal in Research &Development, a 2000 Premier's Research Excellence Award, the 2004 Mercator Professorship Award from the DFG (German Research Foundation) and the Arpad Medal from the Arpad Academy of the American Hungarian Association Awards. Professor Puskas is the winner of the 2017 Charles Goodyear Medal, the most prestigious award given by the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society.  She joined the Faculty of the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering (FABE) at the Ohio State University as a tenured Full Professor in January 1, 2019, and became a Distinguished Professor in 2020.  She may be reached at

March Inventor Team

  • Judit E. Puskas, Ph. D., P.Eng.
    • Distinguished Professor of CFAES in Polymer Science
  • Enikő Krisch
    • Research Associate
  • Kristóf Molnar
    • Research Associate
  • Susan Louscher
    • Foresight Innovation Partners LLC

Featured Campus Resources

  • Jonathan Song, PhD
    • Center for Cancer Engineering
  • Scott A. Shearer, PhD, PE
    • Food, Agricultural & Biological Engineering