Two NatSci professors receive MSU Innovation Awards

  • Apr 14, 2016
  • Faculty & Staff, Research, EES, Kellogg Biological Station, Microbiology

Two faculty members from the College of Natural Science (NatSci) were among the honorees at the sixth annual MSU Innovation Celebration on April 14. The MSU Innovation Center recognized researchers, faculty and students for their highly innovative technologies, intellectual property creation and technology transfer activity.

Bruno Basso, professor of geological sciences and affiliated with the W. K. Kellogg Biological Station, received the Innovation of the Year Award for his work in methods and systems for cropland evaluation and crop growth management (GeoYields). Gemma Reguera, associate professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, was the recipient of the MSU Innovator of the Year award for her work in microbial fuel cells and electrochemical cells powered by Geobacter consortia.

Bruno Basso

Bruno Basso

Basso is an internationally recognized agro-ecosystem modeler with primary research interests in the development and application of crop models to optimize agronomic management and enhance the resource use efficiency of agricultural systems; and the assessment of the impact of climate variability and change on agricultural production systems.

GeoYields is a comprehensive crop yield model system, enabling higher crop production with more efficient use of inputs, such as fertilizers and irrigation. This technology will allow farmers a “bird’s eye view” of their fields in HD, to realize the potential of precision agriculture. GeoYield was licensed out to CiBO Technologies, a startup company of Flagship VentureLab in Cambridge, Mass.

Basso said that it is the dream of many scientists to see their research applied to solve problems and have a real impact on people’s lives and on the environment.

“This technology can be a game changer in sustainable food production,” Basso said.  “It is a privilege to receive this award, as this type of recognition gives me additional motivation to continue to advance my research to address global concerns of food security and environmental sustainability.”

Gemma Reguera

Gemma Reguera

As the 2016 Innovator of the Year, Reguera and her research team have developed a novel electrochemical bioreactor design, which can convert low-cost pre-treated feedstocks, such as corn stover, into useful end products, such as ethanol and biobutanol. If successfully developed to full industrial scale, these electrochemical bioreactors could significantly reduce the cost of bio-based industrial chemicals.

“It is an honor to receive this award,” Reguera said. “It serves as a reminder of the many untapped technologies that can be derived from the study of how microbes recycle wastes in nature.”

While microbes provide the inspiration, Reguera credits the many students and postdocs who have worked with her over the past ten years for their work in translating the research into real solutions for harnessing energy from wastes. 

“Innovation requires creative work but also people who support you along the way,” she said. “Thus, I also must acknowledge MSU and, in particular, MSU Technologies, for the critical support they have provided, which was needed to move our technologies forward and bring them closer to commercialization.” 

Awardees were presented with plaques and cash prizes. The event also showcased other technologies and startups from MSU students and faculty.

For more information about the Innovation Celebration, including images and videos of winners, please visit http://innovationcenter.msu.edu/events/2016-msu-innovation-celebration