The UTRF technology transfer internship program is in its seventh year. The foundation facilitates the transfer of inventions from research labs to the private sector, providing a public benefit of new products that result from academic-research funding. This process, referred to as technology transfer, involves a combination of science, business, and the law. Interns assist UTRF’s licensing associates in screening, evaluating, conducting patentability analyses, and performing market research on new technologies developed throughout the statewide UT system.

The 2018 group features; Travis Vest, Vanessa Nguyen, Jason Bouvier, and Lauren Hughes. We asked the group to answer a few questions as part of a “get to know you” discussion.

Travis Vest

Travis Vest

I grew up In Jefferson City, TN, and studied at UT as an undergrad. For economic reasons, I chose to stay at UT for law school. I just finished my 1L year and will graduate in 2020. Interning at the UTRF interested me because tech transfer is really an intersection of law, business, and technology. The UTRF was a natural fit for me because of my interests in those three fields. While here, I plan to learn as much as I can about IP law in general and the market analysis involved in commercialization. Outside of work, I’m a fan of lots of things: hiking, sports, concerts, books, and movies, to name a few.

Vanessa Nguyen

Vanessa Nguyen

As I had a high interest in computational biology, I choose UT as many of the computational labs use the computing power of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The potential opportunity to work with such systems was ideal. While I have changed my research interest to be a wet-lab biophysicist, I had some collaborative opportunities with ORNL labs. I’m studying a small pH-sensitive peptide and its interaction with lipid membranes in the Department of Biochemistry & Cellular and Molecular Biology. I plan to graduate in 2019 with a doctoral degree.

The intersection of science, law, and business got me interested in the internship.  Being an intern at UTRF, I am able to work on different projects in different fields. I am not only learning about the technologies in my field but also in fields that I never considered.  As a scientist I know where the ideas of a technology come from, but the process to determine if the tool is patent worthy was unknown.  To understand how tech transfer works will push me to think about my science in a different way.   Furthermore, I am considering a non-academic career, and this internship can provide me with the skills needed to make the transition to industry. My passion is to improve my overall knowledge. I do not like to be ignorant. With information being so accessible it is not hard to read up on different topics.  I also do this by traveling as I can meet all sorts of people and know their culture, history, and traditions.  When I am not in the lab, my fiance and I are traveling and exploring new cities and countries, trying out every type of cultural food.

 

Jason Bouvier

Jason Bouvier

I am from Metairie, Louisiana, originally but moved here from Illinois. I’ve been a resident of six states and lived in Washington, D.C. I moved to the Knoxville area for a Postdoctoral position at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Started an MBA program at UT-Knoxville in 2017. Chose UT because of proximity to the lab, and chose the professional MBA so that I could continue to work. The program is a great value also.

I am currently in the Haslam College of Business, Professional MBA, program, with an expected Fall 2018 graduation date.

I worked in the commercial sector for years before pursuing a Ph.D. thus interest was always there. Natural next step to progress a career in technology commercialization from academia was a position in a tech transfer office. For obvious reasons, the technical component of the work I find stimulating. I also enjoying research markets and talking to those in industry, as well as interacting with entrepreneurs.

I hope to be part of the process from disclosure to licensing. Also to become proficient performing prior art screening as well as accessing the commercialization potential of new technologies (e.g., market size, demand, the path to commercialization).

I have been in graduate school for nine years and haven’t really had time for many hobbies or extracurricular activities, but I do like learning new things, creating jobs, challenges, international travel, family, backpacking, helping others

 

Lauren Hughes

Lauren Hughes

My roots begin across the state in West Tennessee, near the small town of Milan (MY-land). After high school, I studied at UT Martin, where I graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Business, despite starting out as a creative writing English major. At that point, I knew I wanted to go to graduate school, and all but flipped a coin between a JD and MBA. Following in my father’s footsteps, I decided to go to law school. UT was an obvious choice for me. The school offered tremendous opportunities and allowed me to stay in my cherished home state. As the semesters went by and I tested out my initial interests, I began to fall in love with intellectual property, a study which complemented my business education and satisfied my creative core. I’ll be graduating from UT Law in May 2019, with dreams of helping start-ups unleash their creativity or established companies protect their brand.

At my very core, I am a problem solver. My heart and mind become truly invested whenever I see a challenge that needs a solution. I chose to intern with UTRF because I wanted to get up-close-and-personal with the creative minds that drive innovation and use my business savvy to get that technology on the market. My goal is to learn how companies communicate with these inventors and delve into the licensing process going on behind the scenes, creating a narrative of innovation. I like a good story. That’s why, outside of work and school, you’ll find me with a book in my hand or streaming an interesting show. When I get a break, I travel across the state to my happy place at my family’s farm, where the Hughes clan gathers on the porch after a meal or around the campfire to close out the day.

UTRF Multi-Campus Office Interns