Month: December 2019

Dr. Kevin Lo Receives an R21 Grant from NIAMS/NIH

The Connecticut Convergence Institute congratulates Dr. Kevin Lo on receiving a two year R21 grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, and the National Institute of Health. As Assistant Director of the Connecticut Convergence Institute, Dr. Lo contributes his expertise to many grants. Adding to his extensive list of grant contributions, he is the Principal Investigator of the R21 which focuses on “The Molecular Mechanism of the Surface Charge of Piezoelectric Materials for Bone Regenerative Engineering”. The goal is to investigate the detailed mechanism of how surface electrical charges positively influence the degree of healing and promote bone tissue regeneration.

The mission of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases is to support research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases; the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research; and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases.

Parkville Senior Center Exceeds JUMP Expectations

Parkville Fitbit Award


Over the past month members of the Parkville Senior Center in Hartford, CT have joined the JUMP movement! At the program’s inception, participants were given pedometers to track their step count, and return each week to record their achievements. The group was also notified that at the end of the month, the person with the highest step count will be awarded a Fitbit!

Last Friday, Dr. Helen Wu and Michelle Slivinsky of the CT Convergence Institute tallied up the points to see who took the lead. The results impressed and inspired us all. An energetic participant named Thu Hong Luu exceeded the team’s expectations. With over 260,000 steps over the course of the past month, she was walking approximately 10,000 steps per day! Thu was very grateful for her new Fitbit and disclosed that this new tool will help keep her motivated and push every day to maintain her step count and stay healthy!

Second UConn NAI Chapter Member Induction Ceremony A Success

President Katsouleas
The second member induction ceremony of the UConn chapter of the National Academy of Inventors, held at the Mark Twain House in Hartford on Dec. 18, 2019. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
Dr. Sotzing
The second member induction ceremony of the UConn chapter of the National Academy of Inventors, held at the Mark Twain House in Hartford on Dec. 18, 2019. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
Group NAI Photo
The second member induction ceremony of the UConn chapter of the National Academy of Inventors, held at the Mark Twain House in Hartford on Dec. 18, 2019. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

The 2nd UConn NAI Chapter Member Induction Ceremony was held on on Wednesday, December 18th at the Mark Twain House in downtown Hartford. Over 60 faculty members, researchers, students, engineers, clinicians, and staff attended and supported the event. President and Vice President of the UConn NAI Chapter, Drs. Cato Laurencin and Lakshmi Nair facilitated the program throughout the evening. Followed by their opening remarks, Dr. Gregory Sotzing, a current UConn NAI member, announced the induction of new members. This year the event featured a special guest, UConn President Thomas C. Katsouleas. The President was amongst the 13 new inductees joining the UConn NAI chapter. He inspired the crowd with remarks on inventorship and provided an overview of UConn’s history of inventors. Dr. Radenka Maric, Vice President for Research, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, also shared some encouraging words on the past, present and future of technology and innovation. The program concluded with Elizabeth Dougherty, who sits on the Board of Directors at NAI and is the Eastern Regional Outreach Director for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The CT Convergence Institute would like to congratulate all new UConn NAI members!

2019 Inductees

Mostafa Analoui, Ph.D.

Office of the Vice President for Research

Alexandru Asandei, Ph.D.

Department of Chemistry

Diane Burgess, Ph.D.

Department of Pharmaceutical Services

Gregory Gallo, Ph.D.

Office of the Vice President for Research

Amy Howell, Ph.D.

Department of Chemistry

Eric Jordan, Ph.D.

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Thomas C. Katsouleas, Ph.D.

Office of the President

Yu Lei, Ph.D

Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Leslie Loew, Ph.D.

Department of Cell Biology

Peter Luh, Ph.D.

Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

Richard Parnas, Ph.D.

Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Guillermo Risatti, Ph.D.

Department of Pathobiology

Shengli Zhou, Ph.D.

Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

Dr. Laurencin Attends the Indian National Academy of Engineering Meeting



Dr. Laurencin, an elected (foreign) Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering, recently traveled to Jaipur, India to attend the annual INAE Convention. The meeting consisted of an awards ceremony, including the Life Time Contribution Award in Engineering and technical presentations by Fellows and Young Engineers.

The Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE), comprises India’s most distinguished engineers, engineer-scientists and technologists covering the entire spectrum of engineering disciplines. INAE functions as an apex body and promotes the practice of engineering & technology and the related sciences for their application to solving problems of national importance. The Academy also provides a forum for futuristic planning for country’s development requiring engineering and technological inputs and brings together specialists from such fields as may be necessary for comprehensive solutions to the needs of the country.

INAE’s activities include programs on issues of technology policy and overall development for the benefit of society, and the Academy promotes research projects, pilot studies, engineering education, fellowships, scholarships, awards and other benefactions. Seminars/Workshops/ Round Tables are conducted on topics of current national importance. The actionable recommendations emanating from the deliberations are submitted to the concerned Department/ Government agencies to assist in formulation of national policies.

Call for Applications: Pre K Program Co-Director

The Connecticut Convergence Institute’s Pre-K Scholar Award Program seeks a third Co-Director (10% FTE) to work with current Co-Directors Lisa Barry, PhD, MPH and Mark Litt, PhD. Candidates should have a record as an accomplished investigator (PhD or MD) with demonstrated success in grant writing and study section review. Strong preference will be given to individuals who are K Award recipients and have served as a mentor for K Awardees. The position requires co-leading 1.5 hour bi-weekly sessions focused on K Award preparation and career development, performing grant reviews for Pre-K Scholars, and modifying curriculum as needed. Interest or emphasis in the field of study of Regenerative Engineering is encouraged. The selection committee is committed to the principle of equity and seeks a diverse group of candidates including individuals from underrepresented groups. The deadline to submit an online application is March 13, 2020.

For more information, please contact Lana T. Angelo, Program Manager, at or 860-679-7661 and Visit our Pre-K Scholar Award Program page .


Dr. Laurencin Receives the Prestigious E. E. Just Award

EE Just Award


On December 8th The American Society for Cell Biology’s Minorities Affairs Committee presented the 2019 E.E. Just Award to Dr. Cato T. Laurencin. In addition to receiving the award, Dr. Laurencin provided the E.E. Just Lecture on “Regenerative Engineering of Complex Musculoskeletal Tissues.” The honor was presented in Washington DC during the 2019 joint meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) and European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO).

The Minorities Affairs Committee (MAC) was formed to memorialize the early 20th-century biologist E.E. Just, and recognizes outstanding scientific achievement by an underrepresented minority scientist.

Sandra Murray, cell biology professor at the University of Pittsburgh, describes Laurencin as “an outstanding speaker, a spectacular scientist who is well funded, recognized nationally and internationally, has trained [a] number of individuals, and is recognized by the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering.” She added that “[Laurencin] has started programs to increase the diversity of the future workforce and, based on his many quotes, has given time to ponder where science is and should be going.”

Dr. Laurencin holds the title of University Professor, which is the highest academic honor bestowed at UConn and is also the Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the school.

UConn Drs. Laurencin and Srivastava Sponsor the 2019 AIChE Annual Gala


On December 3rd, Drs. Laurencin of the CT Convergence Institute at UConn Health and Dr. Ranjan Srivastava of the UConn Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Department jointly sponsored a table at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Annual Gala in New York City. The gala celebrates the contributions of chemical engineers in addressing societal needs.

Funds raised help underwrite the expansion of the AIChE Foundation’s Doing a World of Good campaign initiatives, which supports leadership development and retention programs aimed at women engineers and engineers from underrepresented groups, efforts to improve pre-college STEM education, and programs that inspire women engineering undergraduates, graduate students, and young professionals.

AIChE is the world’s leading organization for chemical engineering professionals, with more than 60,000 members from more than 110 countries. AIChE encompasses a host of complementary chemical engineering communities, each with a distinct focus and composed of chemical and related engineers and scientists who contribute according to their technical skills and unique aptitudes. Together, AIChE’s members embody the vital work that the chemical engineering profession provides to meet society’s global challenges.

Dr. Laurencin Leads the Inaugural Roundtable Meeting for Black Men & Black Women in Science, Engineering, & Medicine

BMIM Conference 2


Dr. Laurencin, Chair of the Roundtable on Black Men & Women in Science, Engineering & Medicine, initiated the Inaugural Roundtable Meeting on December 2nd and 3rd at The National Academy of Science in Washington, DC.

Roundtable members, drawn from academia, government, and industry, focused on the barriers and opportunities encountered by Black men and Black women as they navigate the pathways from K‐12 and postsecondary education to careers in science, engineering, and medicine.

The objectives of the Roundtable are to:

  • Compile and discuss quantitative and qualitative data relevant to the representation and experiences of Black men and Black women in science, engineering, and medicine.
  • Convene a broad array of stakeholders representing higher education, industry, health care, government, private foundations, and professional societies.
  • Highlight promising practices for increasing the representation, retention, and inclusiveness of Black men and Black women in science, engineering, and medicine.
  • Advance discussions that can lead to increasing systemic change.

As supporting content, Dr. Laurencin recently published an editorial titled “The Context of Diversity” describing the need for systemic changes to bring Black diversity to science, engineering, and medicine. Read the full article here.

The Roundtable will convene biannually, and host 2‐3 national or regional workshops each year.

UConn’s Own Radenka Maric Selected as a 2019 NAI Fellow

Farmington, CT—Radenka Maric of UConn has been named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), the organization announced on December 3, 2019.

The NAI Fellows Program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society. Election to NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors. To date, NAI Fellows hold more than 41,500 issued U.S. patents, which have generated over 11,000 licensed technologies and companies, and created more than 36 million jobs. In addition, over $1.6 trillion in revenue has been generated based on NAI Fellow discoveries.

The 2019 Fellow class represents 136 research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes worldwide and collectively hold over 3,500 issued U.S. patents. Among the 2019 Fellows are six recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology & Innovation or U.S. National Medal of Science and four Nobel Laureates, as well as other honors and distinctions. Their collective body of research covers a range of scientific disciplines including neurobehavioral sciences, horticulture, photonics and nanomedicine.

Laura A. Peter, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), will be the keynote speaker at the NAI Fellows Induction Ceremony, April 10, 2020, in Phoenix, Arizona, a commemorative event at the Ninth Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Inventors.  At the ceremony, Fellows will be formally inducted by Peter and NAI President Paul R. Sanberg in recognition of their outstanding achievements.

Congratulations, Dr. Maric!