Top UA Innovators Honored
University of Arizona researcher Hsinchun Chen, best known for developing the COPLINK system used by law enforcement agencies across the nation, has been named the 2013 UA Innovator of the Year.
Chen, professor of management and information systems and the Thomas R. Brown Chair in Management and Technology in the UA's Eller College of Management, was recognized Thursday during the Technology Innovation Awards Luncheon as part of the 10th annual Innovation Day at UA.
"I never dreamed of this success," said Chen, whose COPLINK system is now used by more than 4,500 law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
The system, which Chen likens to "Google for cops," allows agencies to share and analyze criminal data across jurisdictions. It has received widespread national media attention and was credited with helping to solve the Washington, D.C., sniper case in 2002, as reported in The New York Times article "An Electronic Cop That Plays Hunches."
In 1999, Chen founded Knowledge Computing Corp., a UA spinoff software company, to commercialize the COPLINK system. The company later merged with i2, an industry leader in intelligence analytics. In 2011, the company was acquired by IBM for $500 million.
Chen, who also serves as director of the UA's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, has since expanded the COPLINK concept to create similar systems used for border protection (BorderSafe), for disease and bioagent surveillance (BioPortal) and for the analysis of information related to terrorism (Dark Web).
He is currently working on the DiabeticLink system, which aims to look at disease progression and treatment in patients with diabetes. He hopes to eventually expand the system to other diseases as well, like lung cancer, breast cancer and Parkinson's disease.
The Innovator of the Year award is given annually to an established University researcher whose research findings have been commercialized in the form of a license, company-based enterprise or other publicly visible translation instrument. The honoree receives a commemorative plaque and $10,000 to be used for research-related activities at the University.
Also honored during the Technology Innovation Awards Luncheon was Student Innovator of the Year Jared Griebel, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, who was recognized for his work with polymers, with applications toward developing next-generation batteries and organic-based infrared optics.
Innovation Day, held annually, is designed to celebrate innovation and entrepreneurship on the UA campus. The day includes awards ceremonies, networking opportunities and an Innovation Showcase, highlighting University technology and research. Photos from this year's event can be viewed in this UANews photo gallery.
In addition to the Faculty Innovator of the Year, six other UA faculty members were recognized for their contributions as Leading Edge Researchers:
- Dr. David Armstrong and Manish Bharara, researchers in the Department of Surgery's Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance, are working to develop strategies to prevent limb amputation related to diabetes. Among the technologies they are developing are "Smart Insoles," which measure pressure under diabetic patients' feet and provide real-time feedback informing patients when that pressure is too much, helping them to manage their activity.
- Dr. Leslie Boyer, associate professor of pathology and pediatrics, is developing antivenoms to neutralize the effects of snake, scorpion and spider venom. She is director of the VIPER (Venom, Immunochemistry, Pharmacology and Emergency Response) Institute, which works with more than 150 scientists and clinicians to develop antivenom.
- Lars R. Furenlid, professor of medical imaging and optical sciences and associate director of the Center for Gamma Ray Imaging, is developing minimally invasive instrumentation and methods for in vivo molecular imaging, in an effort to advance the diagnosis and treatment of many major health issues, such as cancer and heart disease.
- Salim Hariri, professor of electrical and computer engineering and UA site director of the National Science Foundation Center for Cloud and Autonomatic Computing, is developing cybersecurity algorithms to help computers, networks and information services tolerate cyberattacks, faults or accidents with little involvement by users or systems administrators.
- Raina M. Maier, professor of soil, water and environmental science, is working with biosurfactants as a green replacement for more toxic and environmentally recalcitrant synthetic surfactants for use in a variety of industries.
Innovation Day at UA is organized by the Office of University Research Parks and the Arizona Center for Innovation in partnership with Tech Launch Arizona. This yearâ€™s event was sponsored by Arizona Cine Equipment, Arizona Commerce Authority, the Arizona Technology Council, BizTucson, the city of Tucson, Hecker & Muehlebach, the UA McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, the UA Office of Technology Transfer, Tech Launch Arizona, Strategy 1 and Tucson Electric Power.