ASU researcher named Fellow of National Academy of Inventors


December 7, 2021

Arizona State University researcher Jianming Liang, an associate professor at the College of Health Solutions, has been named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), the organization announced today.

Election as an NAI Fellow is the highest honor bestowed to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development and welfare of society. To date, NAI Fellows hold more than 48,000 U.S. patents, which have generated over 13,000 licensed technologies and companies, and have created more than 1 million jobs. In addition, more than $3 trillion in revenue has been generated based on NAI Fellow discoveries. A multistory building with an ASU sign near its top Photo by Meg Potter/ASU News Download Full Image

Liang studies artificial intelligence and deep learning (DL) for computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) across diseases, modalities and specialties. In addition to his over 100 peer-reviewed publications, Liang holds 33 U.S. patents and has more than 40 patents pending. The products that he helped develop are sold worldwide and benefit millions of people, especially those impacted by cancer and pulmonary embolism. At ASU, he has mentored more than 80 students and received several awards, including the President’s Award for Innovation (2015), a Faculty Innovation Award (2019), a Faculty Mentoring Award (2020) and a MedIA Best Paper Award (2020).

headshot of ASU researcher

Jianming Liang

“I am humbled and honored to be named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors,” Liang said. “This recognization celebrates numerous breakthroughs and creative inventions from my team and acknowledges the significance and maturity of AI/DL-enabled CAD tools for clinical practice. I attribute the success to the unmatched culture of innovation that ASU has cultivated and extremely talented students and amazing collaborators with whom I have been privileged to work. I am also grateful to the remarkable mentors I luckily had over the years.”

Deborah Helitzer, dean and professor at the College of Health Solutions, said, “Dr. Liang’s work to develop biomedical imaging technologies that diagnose and treat disease has a direct clinical impact that has improved health outcomes and benefited millions of patients. Through our conversations and his lectures I have attended, I can attest that our students and faculty have an accomplished yet down-to-earth colleague who is generous with his time and provides significant service to the college. He is the role model to which we all aspire.”

The 2021 new fellows will be inducted at the Fellows Induction Ceremony at the 11th annual meeting of the National Academy of Inventors in June in Phoenix.

The complete list of 2021 NAI Fellows is available to view online.

The National Academy of Inventors is a member organization comprising U.S. and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutes, with over 4,000 individual inventor members and fellows spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide.

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Alumni, student entrepreneurs win investment cash at Demo Day

Demo Day funding brings tears of joy to ASU student, alumni entrepreneurs.
December 7, 2021

Venture Devils competition returns to in-person pitching at SkySong

Entrepreneurship is all about solving problems, and Arizona State University student Jordan Fourcher won $15,000 on Friday for his solution to a common problem in Arizona — overheated mobile phones.

Fourcher, who is majoring in technological entrepreneurship and management, won the funding in the Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative at the Demo Day pitch event.

His company, Fourcher Technologies — which previously won $15,000 at the spring Demo Day — specializes in thermal-management solutions for mobile electronics.

“How many of you ever had your phones overheat? I thought, ‘How do we fix that?’” he asked the crowd during the awards celebration at SkySong on Friday night.

“Right now I’m working on a wireless charger that actively cools your phone, and I’m also working on a phone case that gets colder without electricity.”

Fourcher Technologies was one of more than 75 Venture Devils startups that pitched at Demo Day on Friday. Venture Devils is a program to support ASU students, staff, faculty, alumni and community entrepreneurs within the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute at ASU. More than $192,000 was awarded in eight funding tracks. Venture Devils teams also get access to mentorship and space.

Demo Day is held every semester on the last day of classes, and Friday’s pitch event was the first to be in person since fall 2019 — although the awards event also was livestreamed. Fourcher was among many Venture Devils founders who were pitching in person to judges and an audience for the first time instead of submitting a pitch video.

“When I first walked into the building, I told the judges I wasn’t nervous, I was ecstatic,” he said. “I felt like I was at Disneyland!”

Overall, $90,000 was awarded to sports-related ventures.

Charlotte Bowens wept tears of joy when her name was announced for winning $10,000 in the Global Sport Institute Venture Challenge. Bowens founded Conscious Gear, a line of outdoor-activity clothing for larger-sized people.

“My business is really my passion,” said Bowens, a graduate student in the Innovation and Venture Development degree program and a staff member at ASU.

“It’s really about ensuring that bigger-bodied folk can be in the outdoor space and have the outerwear and gear that they need to be endurance athletes or just get out onto the hiking trails.”

The top winner in the Global Sport Institute funding track was Timeout, an app created by Maya McClendon, a star on the Sun Devils volleyball team before she graduated in 2017. She won $15,000 for the app, which creates a personalized mental health program for athletes and connects them to resources.

Also winning funding was Get Gifted, a venture co-founded by MBA student Michael Matus, who plays football for the Sun Devils. The app connects student-athletes to local businesses for brand deals, now allowed under the new Name, Image and Likeness policy by the NCAA. Get Gifted won $5,000.

There were two new funding tracks this semester: Venture Devils Pay It Forward and the Arizona Coyotes Venture Challenge.

Venture Devils Pay It Forward awarded $20,000, with $10,000 coming from Mat Sherman, a 2016 ASU alum. His donation was matched by the Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute.

“I never thought I would be in this position of not accepting a check but giving a check,” said Sherman, who won funding at Demo Day three years ago for his startup Publoft.

“I think there’s an important obligation for founders who get money at Venture Devils that build important companies to stay in Arizona and to give money to programs that build the ecosystem.”

Four ventures won money from Pay It Forward:

  • Bradley Willett, a 2018 graduate of the W. P. Carey School of Business, won $10,000 for ScripGuard, a locking device intended to prevent prescription medication abuse.
  • Three alumni — Parker Barr, Tesher Cohen and Kyle DeSousa — won $5,000 for their app Koko Ni, which caregivers can use to monitor elderly loved ones.
  • Abigael Omijie, a native of Nigeria who is pursuing an MBA at ASU, won $2,500 for her venture, Pot Heads Tea, a loose-leaf tea company.
  • Michael Wang, who graduated from ASU last spring with a degree in finance and computer information systems, won $2,500 for his venture PeerSquared, a peer-tutoring platform.

Twelve ventures pitched to team executives in the Arizona Coyotes Venture Challenge on Thursday, and the winners were announced at the awards ceremony Friday night. Xavier Gutierrez, president and CEO of the Coyotes, appeared via Zoom from his suite at Gila River Arena in Glendale right before game time.

“I’m really excited about this effort to partner with ASU and the Global Sport Institute, and this was very exciting for us,” Gutierrez said. “A key part of our business plan is around innovation and being top-of-mind and best-in-class partners for entrepreneurs.”

The winning ventures were Suji, a Scotland-based venture that makes a compression-training system, which won $30,000; Train Fitness AI, a Canadian venture that created a rep-counting app for Apple Watches, which won $20,000; and Adapt the Game, an app to improve the game-day experience for fans with disabilities, developed by Victor Ocando, a Tempe resident who uses a wheelchair and participates in Devils Adapt. Adapt the Game won $10,000.

Other funding winners were:

Top photo: Charlotte Bowens cried tears of joy after she won $10,000 for her startup Concious Gear, which makes outdoor apparel for larger-sized people. Bowens is a graduate student and a staff member at ASU and won the investment at Demo Day, held Friday at SkySong and sponsored by the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute at ASU. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News 

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News

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