UWM Innovators Receive Awards

by Erin Puro

The people behind UWM innovations spanning research tools, water sensors, batteries, and more were recognized at the UWM Research Foundation Partners’ Reception earlier this month.

This annual event celebrates faculty, students, and entrepreneurs who have secured patents, forged partnerships, licensed innovations, and ignited startups. Over the past 18 years, this translates to 198 granted patents and 44 active licenses that aim to bring transformative products to market, enriching lives worldwide.

Congratulations to the 11 recipients of this year’s awards. Their contributions underscore the wealth of talent flourishing at UWM. Continue reading to learn more about their exciting advancements.


Dr. Paul Roebber, Director and Founder of Innovative Weather, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences in the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences. Dr. Roebber’s research in synoptic meteorology has led to improvements in operational tools used by the National Weather Service, Weather Eye, Inc., and WE Energies. This spring, an exclusive agreement was signed with a Wisconsin-based company – Great Lakes Weather Center – to carry on the work of the Innovative Weather Center with the goal of providing accurate, timely, site-specific weather forecasts.

Dr. Junjie Niu and his team have developed a novel solution for self-cleaning coatings. This new coating composition has applications in industries that need self-cleaning surfaces. The team’s goal is to focus on coating materials which are scalable and have a long shelf-life necessary for industrial applications. This project was supported with grants through the Water Equipment and Policy center and is licensed by one of our industry members.


Dr. Woo Jin Chang has recently secured a patent for an innovative digital water sensor tailored specifically for detecting phosphates. The monitoring of phosphate levels is crucial for safeguarding water quality and curbing nutrient pollution. Dr. Chang’s sensor is affordable, highly sensitive, and compact, making it ideal for continuous, on-site monitoring. See patent, US11959875B2

Dr. James Cook has earned a patent which is part of a portfolio of drug compounds targeting the GABAA receptors of the brain and is focused on aiding cognition and depression. Major depressive disorder affects 350 million people globally, ranking as a top cause of disability. Despite this burden, pharmaceutical companies have reduced antidepressant development. Novel antidepressants addressing cognitive dysfunction containing compounds like these are crucial for future treatment. See patent, US11753412B2

Dr. Mark Dietz and team have developed a new research tool for the method for preparation of surface-porous supports. This innovation allows the extraction of metal ions from a mixture. Metal ion separations play a vital role in industrial processes and analytical methods. An example of this is radiochemical separations, which can be used to isolate radioisotopes for medical applications such as imaging and cancer treatment. See patent, US11691140B2

Dr. Carol Hirschmugl, Creator, Founder and CEO of COnovate, has been awarded a patent to help commercialize a novel advanced carbon-based nanomaterial that is the world’s only form of solid carbon monoxide (CO)—offering improved performance, cost-competitive scalability from domestic bio-sourced materials for next generation batteries. With this invention as the foundation, COnovate is now practicing a production method that will be easily incorporated into existing battery manufacturing facilities. See patent, US11807535B2.

Also, please visit https://conovateinc.com/

Dr. Deyang Qu and his student Xiaoxiao Zhang, have been granted a patent to unlock the full potential of alkali metal-ion batteries. The team has discovered how to boost the available energy in lithium-ion batteries. This technique compensates for initial capacity loss and sets the stage for teaming up with high-capacity positive electrodes. A concoction of aromatic compounds, alkali metals, and organic solvents results in a powerhouse electrode ready to revolutionize energy storage. See patent, EP3857635A1

Lindsey Roddy and Kyle Jansson have been awarded a patent for a medical device which fuels RoddyMedical, LLC, a UWM startup company. After many iterations a device that organizes medical tubes used in patient care was developed. The device allows lateral movement and holds firm against shifting in undesired directions. It also serves as a solid anchor, preventing anything being dislodged unexpectedly. This device is now being sold and used in hospital settings. See patent, US11826537B2.

Also, please visit, https://www.roddymedical.com/

Dr. Jian Zhao has received a methods patent for his device to improve the installation of adhesive anchors in construction practices. This innovation can help eliminate structural concrete collapses like the parking structure catastrophe at the Bay Shore Mall in 2023. Dr. Zhao’s method combines careful craftsmanship with practicality, resulting in a more reliable anchor system. See patent, US11859380B2