UTRF Interns Q&A
2016 marks the first year that UTRF has the opportunity to work with five interns; Chris Andrews, Brian Fane, Derrick Davis, Joe Smith, and Vamsi Reddy. The 2016 group features interns from the UT law school and the nuclear and chemical engineering disciplines at UT Knoxville. We asked the group to answer a few questions as part of a “get to know you” discussion.
Where are you from originally?
Chris: Green River, Wyoming
Brian: I’m originally from Miami but I’ve lived in Gainesville, FL and Los Alamos, NM before coming to UT.
Derrick: West Frankfort, IL
Joe: Gainesville, GA
Vamsi: Nashville, TN
Why did you choose UT?
Chris: UT has an outstanding nuclear engineering program, particularly in the areas of nuclear security and international safeguards. I wanted to take the opportunity to learn first-hand from the innovative researchers in those areas as preparation for a career in nuclear policy. My choice to attend UT has since been validated by the high-quality instruction and collaborative research opportunities with Oak Ridge National Lab.
Brian: I picked UT because it has a good reputation for engineering, my department conducts interesting research and because Knoxville is situated in such a beautiful area.
Derrick: As a lifelong Vols fan with family in the area, I had hoped to move to Knoxville for some time. UT was the first law school my fiancée and I visited, and it remained our top choice program throughout the decision-making process.
Joe: I moved to Knoxville and transferred to UT as an undergraduate so I could be closer to my sister and her family.
Vamsi: I obtained a scholarship that was too good to pass up.
What are you currently studying and with what degree do you plan to graduate?
Chris: Nuclear Engineering. I will graduate with an M. Sc. In 2017 . I previously earned a B. A. and a B. Sc. in Chemical Engineering in 2015.
Brian: I’m studying electrochemical devices in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department. I plan to graduate in 2017 with a degree in Chemical Engineering.
Derrick: I am pursuing a law degree with an emphasis on transactions and intellectual property. I will graduate with a J.D. in May 2018.
Joe: I am pursuing a BS in quantum physics and a JD focusing on patent law. JD specializing in IP – 2017, and BS in physics – 2018
Vamsi: Law. I plan to graduate in 2017 with a J.D.
Why did you choose to intern with UTRF?
Chris: I wanted to understand the challenges that innovators face once they develop a technology beyond the “cool idea” stage. I believe innovation is a core responsibility of universities, and UTRF gave me the opportunity to help translate the hard work of UT researchers into valuable technologies that have impacts beyond the laboratory.
Brian: I knew that I wanted to intern at UTRF, because they offered the opportunity to work on a variety of interesting projects while building valuable business skills and learning more about tech transfer.
Derrick: I was drawn to the unique experience of working in the overlapping realms of science, business, and law. I try to keep up with recent developments in technology, so a position at UTRF directly correlated with my interests and career goals. We receive invention disclosures covering a broad range of topics, so I was excited for a chance to learn about multiple disciplines while incorporating legal methods to protect and market each specific idea.
Joe: UT presents a unique opportunity to see the more complex issues at play in patent law.
Vamsi: I’m an aspiring patent lawyer, so the ability to evaluate technology for patentability will provide valuable practical knowledge.
How did you become interested in tech transfer?
Chris: I started caring about technology transfer during a summer internship at a chemical plant in Wyoming. The technologies in place at the plant had been developed almost entirely in-house. In order to stay competitive, the company had to protect its intellectual property, or else it would lose ground to competitors. Since then, I have learned that the tech transfer process can be a springboard to a valuable product, or a roadblock to innovative success.
Brian: I became interested in tech transfer after a conversation with a patent lawyer. He convinced me that patent law is an excellent way to leverage my science background, offering interesting work, high pay and excellent geographic mobility. Tech transfer is a natural way to get more exposure to the patenting and commercialization issues surrounding the science I’ve been studying for all these years.
Derrick: I first became interested in the position as an undergraduate research assistant, as I was exposed to the process of developing new ideas from the lab perspective. From that point on, I had hoped to someday see the other sides of tech transfer while in law school.
Joe: I have been concerned with the process from invention to market for a long time. It is the reason I went to law school.
What do you hope to be doing after graduation?
Chris: I hope to work in nuclear policy in Washington after graduation.
Brian: I’m still undecided whether I’ll be working at a defense contractor, pursuing tech transfer or attending law school.
Derrick: I hope to begin my career in biomedical or pharmaceutical patent law.
Joe: Working at CERN.
Vamsi: Working as a patent lawyer.
What are your interests outside of school/work?
Chris: I enjoy playing chess, reading, weightlifting, playing hockey, and traveling.
Brian: My free time is spent rock climbing and mountain biking.
Derrick: My fiancée is also enrolled in the law school, so we spend our downtime hiking the local trails, grilling out, and going to UT football games.
Joe: I am a musician and songwriter, I coach soccer, and I am an uncle to two amazing nieces.
Vamsi: I love my dog, Oscar! And of course, hanging out with family and friends. I’m interested in advances in technology, especially genetic research, and I also enjoy (surprisingly) keeping up with today’s politics.