Finalists for Illinois Innovation Prize announced


The Technology Entrepreneur Center (TEC) and the College of Engineering annually honor outstanding students with the Illinois Innovation Prize. Today, the TEC announces finalists for the award. The winner will be announced and awarded $20,000 at the Illinois Innovation Prize Awards Ceremony and Luncheon scheduled for 12 pm on Wednesday, April 25 at the I-Hotel and Conference Center. Attendees may meet the finalists and hear about their innovative work from 9:30 am - 11:45 am in the Illinois Ballroom.  

The Illinois Innovation Prize (IIP) honors a student who stands out as a passionate and creative innovator and entrepreneur who is working with world-changing technology and is seen as a role model to others. The University of Illinois is a world leader in research, innovation and leadership, and distinguishes itself by creating knowledge and preparing students for lives of impact while addressing critical societal needs through invention and entrepreneurship.

Finalists for the 2018 IIP include:

Jamila Hedhli; PhD Candidate in Bioengineering
Jamila is the co-founder and chairman of Imagosura Inc., a female-led biotechnology and molecular imaging company. Jamila's research focuses on developing novel diagnostic and therapeutic methods in the fight against ovarian cancer. Specifically, Jamila is working to develop new radio-labeled PET-CT tracers to detect aggressive cancer cells.

Kathleen Hu; Senior in Industrial Engineering
Kathleen founded Dibbs, a technology platform and organization that connects excess food at grocery stores to local food pantries. Dibbs is on a mission to reduce food waste while fighting hunger. Through Dibbs, thousands of meals for people in the surrounding community have been created. Dibbs is working on refining its current processes and then expanding to cities around the US.

Rohit Kalyanpur; Sophomore in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Rohit has developed an extremely efficient patent-pending power transfer system which allows for solar to be a viable option for charging consumer electronics. The system allows for efficient charging in indoor and outdoor light and can be integrated in any product that uses a battery.

Hiba Shahid; Senior in Bioengineering
Hiba is working to change the future of medical imaging and healthcare with her startup, PhantomCor. PhantomCor is creating a physical device which anatomically and physiologically simulates a patient's heart, allowing for higher accuracy in medical imaging and personalized medicine in diagnostics. Hiba wants to change the face of medicine using more of a quantitative approach to patient care and diagnostics.

Lucas Smith; Ph.D. Candidate in Bioengineering
While at the University of Illinois, Lucas has developed several simple, highly multiplexed, and ultrasensitive techniques for quantifying disease biomarkers on the single molecule level. These methods are applicable to hundreds of protein and nucleic acid biomarkers, which can be used as robust indicators of diseases ranging from influenza to cancer.

Benjamin Thompson; Senior in Technical Systems Management
Benjamin is developing a robot, TerraSentia, which will open new possibilities in crop breeding, agricultural product development, product testing, crop research, and field scouting by improving the speed and accuracy of in-field data collection and analytics. TerraSentia users may also train the robot to automatically measure the phenotypic traits that drive their business.

The Illinois Innovation Prize, administered by the Technology Entrepreneur Center in the College of Engineering, is awarded on an annual basis to the most innovative student on campus. This year, TEC will reward and recognize the most innovative student on campus with up to $20,000. This student is a passionate innovator, working with world-changing technology, entrepreneurially minded, and a role model for others.