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EKU Innovation Awards

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Eastern Kentucky University plays an important role in the economic, intellectual and cultural vitality of our service region, the commonwealth and around the globe. We create and maintain dynamic programs, provide the building blocks for the inventors of the future, and aspire to translate ideas and talents into new products, services, robust employment and societal advancement for all.

The Innovation Fund, established by the Board of Regents at its June 2018 meeting, was tasked with identifying up to five innovative and entrepreneurial solutions from faculty members that address a significant problem and demonstrate an ability to generate a return on investment. The following five projects were selected by the Board Innovation Fund Committee from 15 projects that were submitted requesting a total of $700,000.

Dr Dana BushDr. Dana Bush - Promoting Health and Well-Being

Dr. Bush’s proposal requests funds to reconfigure and expand space on campus to leverage Eastern as the health care leader in Kentucky. Along with other health services that the University provides related to pediatrics, dementia, autism, occupational and speech therapy, early childhood education and care is an economic development indicator. This expansion would help Richmond and Madison County become more attractive to families, start-ups, and corporations that are looking to relocate and thrive here. Dr. Bush has identified several grant opportunities to match the Board’s investment.

Dr. Bush is an Associate Professor of Child and Family Studies and Chair of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. Her research focus and most current publications are on the topics of early childhood administration and curriculum. She has served on numerous local, state, national and international boards and will be speaking at the World Forum on Early Care and Education in Macao, China, in April.

Dr Calderon and Dr Ndinguri in a labDr. Lindsay Calderon and Dr. Margaret Ndinguri - Springboard for Diagnostic and Chemotherapeutic Platform Development

Dr. Calderon and Dr. Ndinguri, have been awarded the University’s second-ever patent, with 15 claims for their discovery of a chemical compound that better targets specific types of reproductive cancer tumors, while sparing many of the body’s healthy cells, reducing the side effects currently associated with treatment. The doctors’ proposal prepares a start-up platform for the patented compounds and the two compounds in the design phase, and provides travel and consultation for the necessary international partnerships, Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant and provisional patent preparations.

Dr. Calderon is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at EKU. She obtained her Ph.D. in the area of Molecular and Biomedical Pharmacology and currently has published 16 peer-reviewed journal articles including research examining molecular mechanisms for drug design in the areas of hypertension, myocardial infractions, aneurysm formation and reproductive cancers. Currently, her primary research focuses on finding new, innovative diagnostic and treatment regimens for patients with rare and hard-to-cure cancers including triple-negative breast cancer and metastatic ovarian cancer.

Dr. Ndinguri is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry at EKU. Her area of specialty is in Organic Chemistry. Her primary research focuses on synthesis and developing an anticancer agent that has greater efficacy than the current drugs in the market.

Dr Judy JenkinsDr. Judy Jenkins - Enabling Infrastructure for Solar Energy

EKU’s sustainability efforts are challenged by increased energy demand, rising energy costs, and greenhouse gas emissions from combustion-based energy sources. To address these challenges, Dr. Jenkins’ proposal enhances EKU’s infrastructure, as well as provides an educational and research platform for students. Immediate use of these funds will enable the connection to a pilot solar array (around 1000 panels, 300 kW), that tracks panel-by-panel performance. In addition to annual savings from generated energy and reduced emissions, this proof-of-concept array positions EKU as a statewide leader in sustainable practices.

Dr. Jenkins is an Assistant Professor in the Chemistry Department at EKU. Her research focuses on the fundamental chemistry of materials relevant to energy conversion platforms. Specific topics include the synthesis and characterization of doped semiconductor nanocrystals for solar hydrogen production and electrodeposition of semiconducting polymers for use in organic solar cells, organic light emitting diodes and other organic electronics.

Dr. Jason Marion working in a labDr. Jason Marion - Rapid Detection and Enumeration of E. coli by a Novel ATP Approach

Disaster and military personnel need water quality results quickly and reliably. With a unique innovation, E. coli levels can be known in under six hours — four times faster than current methods. Only a few approaches exist for E. coli, most, if not all, of which require expensive lab resources that are not adaptable to the field. Dr. Marion’s innovation would provide technicians rapid estimates of E.coli densities in water, preventing water-borne illness.

Dr. Jason Marion - Development of Coli-Glow for Easy Enumeration of E. coli in Water Anywhere

When disaster strikes in developing nations, public water supplies are disrupted and unsafe for drinking. Water testing methods can quantify E. coli. However, in disaster situations, enumerating E. coli in water is problematic and very expensive. Dr. Marion proposes a solution that can be used as a screening tool for counting E. coli for antibiotic resistance in the environment and be used by researchers worldwide for identifying antibiotic resistant hotspots.

Dr. Marion is an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Health Science. Prior to arriving at EKU, Marion completed his doctoral work and an infectious diseases fellowship at The Ohio State University, where his research pertaining to water quality and gastrointestinal illness was published in several of the world's top water research journals. In addition to his teaching at EKU, Marion has focused his research efforts on public health issues pertaining to water quality in Eastern Kentucky. Due to his interactions with many international students, he has expanded his studies into western Kenya.

Published on February 21, 2019

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