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Glaunsinger Innovation Award recognizes School of Molecular Science graduate students for entrepreneurship


Bill Glaunsinger presenting the inaugural SMS Innovation Award to David Ciota with SMS Director Neal Woodbury.

Bill Glaunsinger (left) presenting the inaugural School of Molecular Science Innovation Award to David Ciota (middle) with School of Molecular Science Director Neal Woodbury (right) at A 2019 award ceremony. Photo by Mary Zhu/School of Molecular Science

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July 22, 2022

Arizona State University has become widely recognized as one of the most innovative universities in the nation, and the establishment of the Glaunsinger Innovation Award by William and Lorna Glaunsinger in 2019 further reinforced that reputation.

The award is given to a graduate student, or a team of graduate students, in the School of Molecular Sciences for excellence in achieving the school's mission of discovering molecular-level solutions to real-world challenges through the development of research ideas, methodologies or inventions and entrepreneurship.

It includes a commemorative plaque, a grant to support further near-term development and access to expert entrepreneurial assistance and potential additional financial support after evaluation by SkySong, The ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center.

Thanks to a recent generous gift from the Glausingers to the ASU Foundation, the award has been funded in perpetuity.

William Glausinger chaired the ASU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry from 1986 to 1989. During his time as a faculty member at ASU, he supervised several research facilities, directed industry-university cooperative programs and founded ASU’s first high-technology, venture capital-funded corporation.

Most recently, Glausinger served the ASU Emeritus College as assistant dean of sciences and professions. As a faculty member, he published over 140 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. He has eight patents in chemical micro-sensor technology based on 43 inventions. Glausinger received numerous awards throughout his academic career, including the first Outstanding Teaching Award in the Department of Chemistry at ASU, the ASU Distinguished Research and Creativity Award, the national Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Technology, and the International Scientist of the Year Award for outstanding contributions to the field of solid-state science.

“The germ of the idea for this award came from my prior inventions at ASU as a faculty member and later on with my involvement with ISEF (Intel’s International Science and Engineering Fair), where many of the most creative high school students in the world display their inventions,” Glausinger said. “My primary motivation for establishing the SMS Innovation Award was to formally recognize significant inventions made by graduate students at this early stage of their careers and to provide a pathway for their further development via ASU’s SkySong Innovation Center.”

Glaunsinger added, “I think what sets this award apart from other graduate-level awards at ASU, as well as at other universities, is the emphasis on innovation and providing a viable mechanism for further development of the invention.”

There have been four Glausinger Innovation Award recipients to date: David Ciota in 2019 for the sustainable synthesis of nano-structured transition metal oxides; Swarup Dey in 2020 for rapid, inexpensive methodology for liquid biopsy-based cancer diagnostics; Nghi Nguyen in 2021 for converting carbon dioxide to fuels using sunlight and molecular-modified semiconductors; and Thu Thao Nguyen in 2022 for developing a catalyst that provides a sustainable and efficient method to produce semiconductor coatings.

MORE: ASU grad student wins Innovation Award for sustainable semiconductor coating process

“Their projects emphasize environmental sustainability and preserving human health,” Glaunsinger said. “In this regard, they are doing an admirable job of fulfilling the SMS mission. I have been very impressed with the research accomplishments of all of the awardees and hope that this award will help encourage these as well as future graduate students to continue to pursue their inventions.”

William and Lorna Glaunsinger continue to support innovation in a variety of venues. They have taught several courses on energy and the environment to high school teachers nationwide. They also served as judging chairs for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix in 2005, 2013, 2016 and 2019. They were members of the Local Arrangements Committee responsible for volunteer recruitment, public outreach and providing an enduring legacy to science education in Arizona. They also served on an international judge advisory committee responsible for making improvements in the judging process. 

William Glausinger recently received an inaugural Innovation Award from the Association of Retiree Organizations in Higher Education for the successful development of a science fair mentoring program for Arizona high school students who have been selected to attend ISEF. 

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