Princeton University’s Innovation Forum Goes Virtual Sept. 29

For the first time since it began in 2005, Princeton’s Innovation Forum is going virtual, in response to COVID-19.

The event, which will take place on September 29, will feature presentations from many Princeton researchers. Also, this year the Keller Center has partnered with the Humanities Council at Princeton to include a category at the Innovation Forum focused on cultural and societal innovations by faculty in the humanities and social sciences.

Each participant will present a short pitch that will be followed by a Q&A with a feedback panel. Audience members will have the opportunity to interact with the presenters through on-screen demo stations.

The top three entries in engineering and natural sciences will receive prize money totaling $30,000, with $15,000 for first place, $10,000 for second place and $5000 for third place. The prizes will be awarded to the principal investigators of the winning research projects, and must be used to advance the research on or commercialization of the innovation.

As in the past, while many of the discoveries and innovations featured are in biotech, the sciences and life sciences, there are others that may interest the community. For example, Cho Yan will present a process for direct recycling of lithium-ion batteries, will show a web-based tool that could make redrawing congressional maps fairer, and Effie Rentzou will preview an app to make poetry accessible.

Opening remarks will be given by Andrea Goldsmith, dean of engineering and applied science at Princeton; Naveen Verma, director of the Keller Center; and Cornelia Huellstrunk, executive director of the Keller Center. There will also be remarks by Kathleen Crown, executive director of the Humanities Council, and Rodney Priestley, vice dean for innovation at Princeton.

The presentations will be as follows:

1:22 p.m. – Direct Recycling of Lithium-Ion Batteries 

Chao Yan, research associate, mechanical and aerospace engineering, will speak about the direct recycling of lithium-ion batteries, a patented low-cost process for producing high-quality active cathode materials from spent lithium-ion batteries.

1:32 p.m. – High-Throughput Elicitor Screening

Maryam Elfeki, postdoctoral researcher, chemistry, will introduce High-Throughput Elicitor Screening (HiTES), a platform that features a proprietary, patented high-throughput technology for the activation of silent microbial genes, as well as an in-house bacterial culture collection and lead-prioritization software.

1:42 p.m. – Improved Separation Using a Low-Turbulence Centrifuge

Erik Gilson, principal research physicist, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, will discuss improved separation using a low-turbulence centrifuge, a patented centrifuge technology that enhances the separation efficiency of liquid centrifuges by incorporating a differentially rotating inner cylinder coaxial within the main cylindrical housing of a traditional centrifugal separator.

1:52 p.m. – Data-Driven, Photorealistic Social Face-Trait Encoding, Prediction and Manipulation Using Deep Neural Networks

Jordan Suchow, assistant professor, the School of Business at Stevens Institute of Technology, will talk about data-driven, photorealistic social face-trait encoding, prediction and manipulation using deep neural networks, a large-scale data-driven methodology that allows for the easy manipulation of social trait information in hyper-realistic face images.

2:22 p.m. –

Preeti Iyer, Princeton alumni and cofounder,, and Kyle Barnes, undergraduate student and cofounder, will present, a web-based tool designed to collect and analyze crowd-sourced community maps for the purpose of drawing fair legislative districting lines.

2:34 p.m. – Animation and Graphics for Justice

Laurence Ralph, professor, anthropology, will show his graphic-novel and animated-film project, which exposes the serious long-term harm done to individuals who enter the juvenile justice system, and to their families.

2:46 p.m. – Poetrygo!

Effie Rentzou, associate professor, Department of French and Italian, will demonstrate a mobile app that pairs technology and poetry to bring the art form into everyday life.

2:58 p.m. – Rupturing Tradition

Brooke Holmes, Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities, and Dan-El Padilla Peralta, associate professor, classics, will present an experimental graduate seminar bringing together the ideas of both scholars and activists in reimagining the study of the Greco-Roman world.

3:20 p.m. – Novel Therapeutics for the Treatment of Acute and Chronic Hepatitis Virus Infections

Alexander Ploss, associate professor, molecular biology, will offer novel small-molecule therapeutics that can be readily deployed to efficiently combat hepatitis B and E viruses, which affect over 300 million people worldwide.

3:30 p.m. – Costly Virtual Rating Slider

Dalton Conley, Henry Putnam University Professor in Sociology, will discuss a virtual slider for online rating sites and applications. His widget imposes a rising (exponential) cost to deviating from the middle (i.e., extreme scores).

3:40 p.m. – Metabolite Potentiation of Nitrofuran Activity in Drug-Tolerant Bacteria

Cathy Tang, Ph.D. candidate, chemical and biological engineering, will propose a co-treatment of nitrofurantoin and metabolites, such as mannitol, that may enhance bactericidal activity and reduce the common recurrence of urinary tract infections.

3:50 p.m. – Bring Back the Wonder

Caleb Bastian, visiting scientist, applied mathematics, will show a framework and plan of action for managing world heritage sites as if they were persons, using medical ethics and comprehensive treatment planning to restore form and function and to maintain and institutionalize the sites.

4:00 p.m. – PoreBiome: A “Porous Petri Dish” for Microbial Assays in Complex Environments

Sujit Datta, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, will present a platform that enables microbial cells to be arranged—in any desired 3D structure, with any community composition—within a porous matrix having tunable properties.

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