On May 30, 2023, UC Santa Cruz held the inaugural Chancellor’s Innovation Impact Award Program dinner. This new program celebrates the university’s talented faculty, researchers, staff, students, and community partners for their outstanding contributions to innovation and creativity. The three award categories were:
Innovator of the Year
- Russell Corbett-Detig and his team have developed a computational tool called UShER (Ultrafast Sample Placement on Existing tRees), which has become instrumental in the fight against COVID-19. UShER allows real-time tracking of SARS-CoV-2 and helps researchers identify new virus lineages.
- Visualizing Abolition is the nation’s most ambitious and sustained art and prison abolition initiative. The project examines the ways people see and understand issues of mass incarceration, detention, and policing in the United States and abroad, challenging the prevailing social, economic, and political worldviews that prisons promote. The initiative was developed by Dr. Gina Dent and Dr. Rachel Nelson, with support from the Mellon Foundation.
Lifetime Achievement in Innovation
- The Lifetime Achievement in Innovation award, which acknowledges a faculty member’s influential and innovative contributions with long-term societal benefits, has been bestowed upon Research Professors Emeriti of Biomolecular Engineering, David Deamer and Mark Akeson. As the co-inventors of nanopore sequencing, their pioneering work has revolutionized DNA and RNA reading, significantly influencing our understanding of human genetics. Their award includes a $5,000 grant, which they can allocate to a division, department, or lab of their choice to bolster innovative research endeavors.
- Santa Cruz Works (“SCWorks”) has been awarded the Community Changemaker award for their remarkable contributions to regional economic prosperity in the Santa Cruz region through innovation and entrepreneurship. SCWorks has significantly aided UC Santa Cruz by enhancing awareness of their research and its global impacts, expanding SCWorks’s digital footprint during the pandemic, and connecting PPE-producing companies with the university. Their efforts have helped students and innovators develop entrepreneurial skills, evident in their instrumental role in establishing CruzHacks and supporting campus startups via SCWorks’s accelerator program. More than half of the first cohort were UCSC startups. Now in its fifth cohort, the program has supported more than 50 companies in starting their businesses in Santa Cruz, many from UC Santa Cruz. They also played a vital role in bringing Launchpad ’22 and Blue Innovation ’22 to campus, events aimed at supporting research, businesses, and stakeholders interested in water management and ocean climate solutions.
Read the Press Release: https://news.ucsc.edu/2023/06/chancellor-innovation-awards.html