People

I-Corps @ UMass Team

Sundar Krishnamurty

Principal Investigator, Department Head, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering

Sundar Krishnamurty is Department Head for Mechanical and Industrial Engineering; the Isenberg Distinguished Professor of Engineering; and UMass Site Director for the Center for e-Design (an IUCRC). As the Isenberg Professor, he has a faculty leadership role in integrating engineering with broader UMass Innovation & Entrepreneurship course offerings and ecosystem.  He has been PI on two National I-Corps teams projects, including UMass Amherst’s first national I-Corps team in 2012. He was a member of the Chancellor’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship 2019-20 working group, and he is currently serving as a member of the National Academies of Engineering Study Committee on Strengthening the Talent for National Defense: Infusing Advanced Manufacturing into Engineering Education.

Laura Burnham

I-Corps @ UMass Amherst Site Director

Laura Burnham is an executive leader with over 20 years’ experience leading the development, design and delivery of early-stage science and technology programs in the US and globally. Laura has been coaching, mentoring and training new ventures and innovation-based start-ups for over 15 years, primarily at MIT and VentureWell. She brings a deep commitment and active promotion of inclusive innovation and advancing equity through programs, organizational practices and thought leadership.

Kenneth Carter

Kenneth Carter

Founding Faculty Director, Professor of Polymer Science & Engineering

Professor Carter is a member of the UMass Amherst Polymer Science and Engineering Department. His research involves the synthesis and characterization of polymeric materials with specially designed properties. Carter’s research focuses on the development of organic and hybrid materials for future use in advanced electronics and storage technologies. He also has projects studying advanced nanocellulose materials and applications that utilize it. Dr. Carter has numerous publications, over 30 patents, and a successful startup, Treaty LLC. He is the Director of the UMASS NRT Traineeship program (www.smls-nrt.org) as well as the PI of the UMass i-Corps Site training program.

Nilanjana Dasgupta

Nilanjana Dasgupta

Co-Principal Investigator, Professor, Psychological & Brain Sciencess

Nilanjana (Buju) Dasgupta is a Professor of Psychology, Director of Faculty Equity and Inclusion, and Director of the Institute of Diversity Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her research is on unconscious or implicit bias with emphasis on the ways in which changes in social contexts correspondingly change implicit attitudes, beliefs, and behavior.

Dasgupta’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Among these was an NSF CAREER award. She received the Application of Personality and Social Psychology Award from the Society for Personality & Social Psychology (2016), the Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity (2016), and the Distinguished Academic Outreach Award in Research from UMass Amherst (2014). Level Playing Field Institute, a private foundation based in Silicon Valley, awarded her and her students the Hidden Bias Research Prize in 2012. She was invited to give a distinguished faculty lecture at the National Science Foundation in 2016. In 2012 Dasgupta gave an invited presentation at an event organized by the Obama White House on the ways in which implicit stereotypes prevent the inclusion of underrepresented youth in science and technology and evidence-driven remedies targeting this problem.

A good bit of Dasgupta’s time is spent translating scientific research to inform social problems such as employment discrimination, educational disparities in science, engineering, and mathematics, and the under-representation of women and ethnic minorities in professional leadership roles. Dasgupta has held leadership positions in several international societies including service on the National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (NSF SBE, 2015-2020), which provides recommendations and oversight to all research, education, and human resource initiatives of the SBE Directorate.

Ina Ganguli

Ina Ganguli

Associate Professor of Economics, Director, UMass Computational Social Science Institute

Ina Ganguli is an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Associate Director of the UMass Computational Social Science Institute (CSSI). Her primary research areas are labor economics and the economics of science and innovation. Her recent research has focused on the migration of high-skill workers, gender disparities in the labor market, and the formation of scientific collaborations.

Ina holds a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University, a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University. She is a Research Affiliate of the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard University (LISH) and a Research Fellow at the Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics (SITE) at the Stockholm School of Economics.

She is a recipient of the 2018 Russian National Prize in Applied Economics, awarded biennially to the best published research on the Russian economy, and received honorable mention for the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research Dissertation Award, awarded annually to the best dissertations on employment-related issues.

Burnley Jaklevic

Burnley Jaklevic

Co-Principal Investigator, Interim Director, Technology Transfer Office (TTO)

Burnley Jaklevic is a Senior Licensing Officer in the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She joined the TTO in December 2012, where she is part of a team that works closely with UMass Amherst faculty, staff and students as they develop inventions and software that may have commercial applications.

Prior to joining the TTO, Burnley was a Licensing Associate in the technology licensing office at Texas A&M University. She earned her B.A. degree in genetics from UC Davis and worked for three years on the Human and Drosophila Genome Projects at Berkeley National Laboratory. She received her Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from the University of Colorado Boulder where she carried out her thesis research in the laboratory of Dr. Tin Tin Su on cell cycle checkpoints, DNA repair and apoptosis.

Following her graduate studies, Dr. Jaklevic was a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Kristin Scott at UC Berkeley, studying neural circuits underlying taste and feeding behavior. Burnley enjoys working with UMA inventors and exploring the commercial potential of their inventions.

Allison Koss

Director of Communications, Office of Research & Engagement

Allison Koss is the Communications Manager for the Office of Research and Engagement where she is responsible for supporting internal and external communications through a variety of media. She previously worked for UMass Amherst IT for five years as a Communications Coordinator.

Allison graduated from Western New England College (now University) in 2007 with a B.S.B.A. in Marketing Communications and Advertising. While there, she played field hockey and was selected NFHCA Academic Team and All-NAC First Team. She was a Western New England University Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee in 2013. Allison also received a Master of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communication from Emerson College in 2009.

Maryanne Laukaitis

Administrative Assistant, Technology Transfer Office (TTO)

Maryanne Laukaitis is an administrative assistant in the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) where she is responsible for processing Material Transfer Agreements and Confidential Disclosure Agreements, among other administrative duties.

A graduate of Smith College, Maryanne worked for 9 years at Kollmorgen Corporation Electro-Optical Division as a mechanical designer for periscope subassemblies and training equipment. At UMass she was mechanical designer for the Five College Radio Astronomy program for 8 years, working on components for the radio telescope located at Quabbin Reservoir.

Subsequently, she was administrative assistant for the Director of the Massachusetts Rural Development Council, which was hosted by the UMass Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning department. There she ran the office as well as writing/editing the newsletter and actively participating in planning two national conferences on rural development.

Instructors

Laura Burnham

I-Corps @ UMass Amherst Site Director

Laura Burnham is an executive leader with over 20 years’ experience leading the development, design and delivery of early-stage science and technology programs in the US and globally. Laura has been coaching, mentoring and training new ventures and innovation-based start-ups for over 15 years, primarily at MIT and VentureWell. She brings a deep commitment and active promotion of inclusive innovation and advancing equity through programs, organizational practices and thought leadership.

Eric Crawley

I-Corps @ UMass Instructor

Eric Crawley is an experienced executive, manager, and mentor capable of delivering results in people, strategy, architecture, and execution at many levels with experience ranging from startups to multi-national organizations. After over thirty years in the tech industry, he was the Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the College of Engineering at UMass Amherst and developed MIE 664, Engineering Leadership and Entrepreneurship for the Engineering Management MS program in the college.  He enjoys helping people turn crazy ideas into companies.

Nikki Hoang

Licensing Officer

Nikki is a Licensing Officer in the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, whose portfolio focuses on food science, chemistry, and polymer science.

Prior to joining the TTO, Nikki was a Commercialization Analyst in the Office of Technology Management at the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign. She was selected as an AUTM (Association of University Technology Managers) fellow, where she participated in the Technology Transfer Career Training program for early career technology transfer professionals.

She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign working with Professor Cathy Murphy and the NSF Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology on the analysis of protein corona formation on inorganic nanoparticles.

Burnley Jaklevic

Burnley Jaklevic

Co-Principal Investigator, Interim Director, Technology Transfer Office (TTO)

Burnley Jaklevic is a Senior Licensing Officer in the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She joined the TTO in December 2012, where she is part of a team that works closely with UMass Amherst faculty, staff and students as they develop inventions and software that may have commercial applications.

Prior to joining the TTO, Burnley was a Licensing Associate in the technology licensing office at Texas A&M University. She earned her B.A. degree in genetics from UC Davis and worked for three years on the Human and Drosophila Genome Projects at Berkeley National Laboratory. She received her Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from the University of Colorado Boulder where she carried out her thesis research in the laboratory of Dr. Tin Tin Su on cell cycle checkpoints, DNA repair and apoptosis.

Following her graduate studies, Dr. Jaklevic was a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Kristin Scott at UC Berkeley, studying neural circuits underlying taste and feeding behavior. Burnley enjoys working with UMA inventors and exploring the commercial potential of their inventions.

Helen Ma

Helen is a Licensing Officer in the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her portfolio focuses on engineering and software inventions. She identifies, evaluates, and supports technologies with the potential to establish new startup companies. She also works with startups through the UMass Amherst I-Corps program and other campus entrepreneurship programs.

Prior to joining the TTO, Helen did multi-disciplinary research and development in the life science tools and diagnostics industry for seven years. She is an inventor herself: her previous R&D focused on the fluidic technologies and genomic/proteomic sequencing technologies, leading to multiple patent applications and contributing to innovative products (e.g., NextSeqTM 1000/2000). She was an engineer and tech lead for both Illumina, a corporation leading the genomic sequencing industry, and Quantum-Si, a startup company that went public in 2021. She enjoys working with inventors from a variety of disciplines and collaborators in the business and legal fields to bring ideas to products, both in industrial and academic settings. 

She received her Ph.D. and postdoc training at University of California, Los Angeles, researching microfluidic platform for molecular imaging tracer synthesis. She earned her B.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering from Zhejiang University.

Gregory Thomas

Gregory Thomas

Executive Director and Lecturer, Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship

For the last 20 years, Gregory Thomas ’91 has held various senior level global manufacturing, finance/control and strategy roles with Corning. During his last five years at Corning, he was a strategist for Emerging Innovations, focused on bringing new products, processes, and businesses to market. He’s also the immediate past president of the UMass Amherst Alumni Association Board of Directors and is known as a prolific volunteer and proven fundraiser. He earned an MBA in finance and operations management at Clark Atlanta University.

As executive director and lecturer, Thomas has responsibility for the Berthiaume Center, and works with external constituents on campus, in the Pioneer Valley and throughout the Commonwealth to develop and execute value-adding partnerships in service of the Center’s mission. He also teaches entrepreneurship and innovation in UMass’ Isenberg School of Management.

Karen Utgoff

Karen Utgoff

Instructor and Director, IALS Venture Development Director

Karen Utgoff is a market-oriented business strategist with extensive experience in innovation and entrepreneurship programs, small business growth, and technology-driven startup development. In addition to serving as site director for I-Corps @ UMass Amherst she directs venture development efforts in the Institute for Applied Life Sciences, including the IALS & Isenberg Business Innovation Fellows Program. She participates in the broader innovation ecosystem as a volunteer for the Cleantech Open Northeast, MassChallenge, and Valley Venture Mentors accelerator programs. Ms. Utgoff served as the industry mentor for the campus’ first national team. She hold an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.