UTA Research and Innovation Expo

The University of Texas at Arlington is spotlighting the ingenuity and creativity of its students, faculty and staff at its Research and Innovation Expo.
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UTA Research and Innovation EXPO 2024

Hosted by UTA’s Office for Research and Innovation, faculty, staff, and students are invited attend UTA’s Research and Innovation Expo on Monday, April 22, from 8 am to 6 pm at College Park Center.  Guests from the local community are also invited and welcome.

Hear guidance and success stories from invited speakers, successful UTA researchers, and key university leaders.

Registration is free and open until April 15

Beginning at 8 am with a continental breakfast and exhibits, the expo will feature an opening keynote address by Azad Madni, professor at the University of Southern California, followed by two morning sessions:

  • Research Support: Unlocking the Potential of Research at UTA from 9:45 to 11 am
  • Research Impact: Celebrating Success from 11:30 am to 12:15 pm

Attendees may choose to attend a lunch with keynote speaker Kirk Ririe, co-founder of Idaho Technology at the University of Utah, followed by two afternoon sessions:

  • Supporting Innovation: Establishing the Innovation Mindset from 1:45 to 3 pm 
  • Community Impact: Making a Difference from 3:30 to 4:30 pm

The expo will end with a closing address by Thom Ruhe, CEO of NC IDEA, a private foundation dedicated to unlocking the entrepreneurial potential of North Carolinians, followed by a closing reception sponsored by the UTA Chapter of the National Academy of Innovators.


We would like to extend a special thank you to our sponsors:

Vistra (Platinum Level)

Shimadzu Scientific Instruments (Silver Level)

National Academy of Inventors (hosting the closing reception)


Click here for event registration, agenda, and speaker bios.


RESEARCH SUPPORT: Unlocking the Potential of Research at UTA

Re-energize your academic journey! This session will ignite your curiosity as leading professors and researchers from a kaleidoscope of fields come together to cross-pollinate ideas. Get ready to:

  • Plug into the creative power of interdisciplinary collaboration

  • Absorb insights from pioneers pushing boundaries in their fields

  • Brainstorm and ideate with other curious minds

  • Return to your own research with fresh perspectives and synergistic connections

Come with an open mind and leave inspired! This session will widen your academic lens and deepen your scholarly experience.

RESEARCH IMPACT: Celebrating Successes

This session will highlight some of the university's exciting discoveries from the past year. Get ready for inspiring presentations on our groundbreaking research and intellectual property. We'll also be honoring some of UTA's brilliant inventors with patent plaque awards. Whether you're a researcher, student, or just curious about innovation, you won't want to miss this session showcasing the incredible ingenuity happening at UTA. Come ready to be wowed and inspired by the cutting-edge work being done right here in our community.

INNOVATION SUPPORT: Establishing the Innovation Mindset 

Innovation is in the air in this session! Get ready for inspiring presentations sharing secrets to success from UTA's Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology Development. You'll hear real-world stories of innovation triumphs and failures, gaining priceless insights into mastering the innovation process in any field. 

Then we'll open up the floor for a lively panel discussion. Bring your burning questions for our panel of UTA Innovators and they will tackle topics ranging from overcoming obstacles to developing that entrepreneurial mindset. Leave re-energized and equipped to innovate in your own unique way. Your ideas are waiting to be unleashed and this event will spark them into action!

COMMUNITY IMPACT: Making a Difference

Discover how UTA's groundbreaking research is making waves in the community. Get the inside scoop straight from the source with presentations from our stellar lineup of community and industry partners, then dive into a panel discussion with entrepreneurs making their mark. We'll wrap up this can't-miss event with closing and inspirational remarks, so get ready for a motivating sendoff! Don't miss this opportunity to connect with change-makers and gain insights that will spark new ideas.


Dr. Jennifer Cowley 

Jennifer Cowley

Jennifer Cowley, Ph.D. is the first female president of The University of Texas at Arlington and the 10th overall.She is also a professor of public affairs and planning in the College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs. Dr. Cowley is an advocate for public higher education and passionate about UTA’s role in developing the Dallas-Fort Worth economy, society, and culture by preparing the next generation of talent. Cowley has dedicated her career to public service through leadership roles at national research universities, where she championed student success, engaged communities, created strategic collaborations, and advanced innovation. Before joining UT Arlington in 2022, she served as the provost and vice president for academic affairs for five years at the University of North Texas (UNT) and 16 years at Ohio State University in a variety of capacities, including vice provost for capital planning and regional campuses, associate dean of the College of Engineering, head of city and regional planning, and a professor. Prior to entering academia, Cowley worked in city government in Amarillo and College Station. She earned a Ph.D. in urban and regional science, master’s degree in urban planning, and bachelor’s degree in political science from Texas A&M University and master’s degrees in interdisciplinary studies and public administration from UNT. She is a fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners and a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administrators. An Arlington native, Cowley and her husband, Jon, have a son, Nathan, who is in college.


Kate Miller

Dr. Kate C. Miller is currently proud to serve as Vice President for Research and Innovation at UTA. She received her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in 1982, her M.S. from Stanford University in 1988, and her Ph.D. also from Stanford in 1991. From 1982-1986, Kate worked as a geoscientist for Amoco Production Company (now BP LLC) in New Orleans. After receiving her doctorate in 1991, Kate took a faculty position in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) where she later served as Department Chair. She has also held administrative roles as Associate Dean for the College of Science at UTEP, Dean of the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University, and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Wyoming. Kate’s research has focused on the application of active source seismology to the origin and evolution of the continental lithosphere as well as using active source techniques to better understand the origin of earthquakes and other environmental hazards. In addition to these accomplishments, over many years, Kate has led programs targeted at recruitment and retention of URM students and faculty in the geosciences as well as in math and science education.


Kirk Ririe

In 1990, Kirk Ririe co-founded Idaho Technology with Carl Wittwer at the University of Utah. With a license for Rapid-PCR technology developed in Wittwer's laboratory, they initially operated in the corner of the Ririe family potato equipment company in Idaho. They company relocated to Utah in 1999 and changed its name to BioFire in 2012 before being sold to bioMerieux S.A. (bMx) in 2014. Ririe stayed with bMx during an extended transition period as CEO of BioFire Defense until 2016, and then as Chief Innovation Officer of bMx until 2019. After leaving bMx, Ririe and Wittwer relaunched their Idaho brand, this time called as Idaho Molecular, Inc. where they continue to develop the tools of molecular biology to improve human health.


Azad M. Madni

Azad M. Madni is a distinguished researcher, educator, entrepreneur, and philanthropist internationally recognized for his pioneering work in systems engineering and intelligent systems technology. A professor at the University of Southern California, he holds the Northrop Grumman Fred O'Green Chair in Engineering and is the Executive Director of USC's Systems Architecting and Engineering Program. Madni is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and has received numerous awards, including the 2023 NAE Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education. As the founder and CEO of Intelligent Systems Technology, Inc., he has led the company to remarkable success and has been a key figure in advancing augmented intelligence technologies. With more than 400 publications, numerous leadership awards, and a significant impact on engineering education, Madni's expertise extends across academia, industry, and research, making him a sought-after mentor and speaker at conferences worldwide.


Thom Ruhe

Thom Ruhe is President and CEO of NC IDEA, a private foundation dedicated to unlocking the entrepreneurial potential of North Carolinians where he brings a wealth of experience as an entrepreneur, investor, mentor, and philanthropist. With more than 35 years of professional involvement in startups, high-growth companies, and fostering entrepreneurial ecosystems, Thom has made a impact on the global entrepreneurial landscape. During his seven-year tenure at the Kauffman Foundation, he directed programs spanning entrepreneurship education, mentoring, access to capital, and the creation of entrepreneurial ecosystems. His commitment extends beyond the U.S., as he collaborates with governments, universities, and NGOs worldwide to cultivate the entrepreneurial mindset essential for robust economic growth. A respected figure in the field, Thom has spoken at conferences globally, addressed the United Nations Assembly on Entrepreneurship, and served on prestigious organizations like the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council for Entrepreneurship. Currently, he contributes his expertise to initiatives such as the North Carolina Rural Center's Small Business Policy Task Force and the board of Advisors for the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Scott Marty 

Scott D. Marty

Scott D. Marty is Co-Leader of the firm's Life Sciences Industry Group, Leader of the Patent Group's biotechnology team, and a member of the pharmaceutical team. His practice focuses on various aspects of biotechnology patent prosecution, diligence and patent litigation, including Post-Grant Proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Scott’s clients run the gamut from multinational Fortune 500 companies to emerging growth start-ups. Regardless of size, clients benefit from his experience in navigating all areas of drug discovery through development, including product launch. In the start-up space, he provides strategic patent counseling to life sciences companies, guiding them through every stage of a product's life cycle.

Florence Haseltine 

Florence Haseltine

Dr. Haseltine is the Jenkins Garrett Professor and Presidential Distinguished Professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, and she serves as the Medical Director for the North Texas Genome Center. In 1964 she received her undergraduate degree in Biophysics from the University of California-Berkeley, followed by a Ph.D. in Biophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1970. Subsequently, she obtained her M.D. from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1972, completed her internship at the University of Pennsylvania, and residency at Boston Hospital for Women (Brigham & Women's Hospital). Prior to joining the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1985, she was an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pediatrics at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Haseltine was appointed the Director of the Center for Population Research at NICHD and was named an Emerita Scientist upon her retirement. In 2019, Dr. Haseltine was enticed out of retirement and became a Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington.


Paul J. Corson

Paul J. Corson is the Executive Director of UTA's Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology Development.  In this role, Paul leads efforts to spur regional innovation and economic development based on research and technology developed at UTA. Previously, Paul catalyzed Utah's technology-based economic development by building the University of Utah's invention management operations and leading comprehensive efforts to form, launch, and grow startup companies. Paul was also Chief of Staff for the Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship in the University of California Office of the President, where he spearheaded efforts across the UC System to enhance, expand, and promote technology commercialization, as well as student and faculty entrepreneurship. Paul has also held executive-level positions in the public and private sectors, including Executive Director of Innovation Fund America; acting director of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the U.S. Department of Commerce; as well as at multiple startup companies in the United States and abroad.  Paul began his career as Country Director, Caucasus for a USAID-funded economic development program in Armenia and Georgia. Paul holds an MA in International Relations from The George Washington University and a BA in Political Economies from Franklin and Marshall College. Both degrees concentrated on Soviet and post-Soviet studies. He also completed an executive management program at Singularity University.


Matt Clark

Matt Clark is an entrepreneur, artist, and associate professor of practice at UTA where he is the faculty director and at The Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Innovation. As the faculty director, Clark connects and collaborates with student, faculty, alumni, and community entrepreneurs, incorporates entrepreneurship into courses across the university, creates programming, and evangelizes all things entrepreneurial across the metroplex. Matt Clark Studio has been in business for over three decades creating original artwork for homes and businesses across the globe. His paintings are in the collections of over 30 international corporations. In addition to creating unique abstract painting exploring place; physical, psychological, and spiritual, he collaborates with artists and artisans from around the world resulting in dynamic artworks combining unique approaches and unimaginable results. In 2012, Clark created and launched the Entrepreneurship in the Arts initiative helping students leverage their creative talents professionally. He has spoken throughout the US on this topic and presented a TED talk in 2016. He received a B.A. in Art History from Arizona State University and an M.F.A in Painting from Cranbrook Academy of Art.



Troy Alley, Jr. is a highly accomplished individual with a background in electrical engineering and real estate. He is currently the Chief Operating Officer and President of Real Estate at Con-Real, LP, where he has grown the real estate division into one of the largest African-American firms in the Southern United States. Under his leadership, Con-Real became the first African-American owned firm to provide major leasing and management services for Prudential Realty and Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company. Mr. Alley has also served on various boards and committees, including the Texas A&M University Real Estate Research Center and the SMU Cox School of Business Associate Board. He is a prominent speaker and has received numerous awards for his achievements. Additionally, Mr. Alley is passionate about education and has developed programs to support minority and African-American students in the field of engineering. He is also involved in initiatives to support local businesses and revitalize the South Dallas community.


Hanli Liu

Professor Liu received her BS from Beijing Normal University and a Ph.D. from Wake Forest University. She is currently a full professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Texas, Arlington. She has received several prestigious awards and has published over 160 peer-reviewed scientific papers. In recent years, she has focused on noninvasive neuromodulation using light, specifically using broadband NIRS and EEG measurements with transcranial photobiomodulation. Her team has successfully quantified the effects of tPBM on the human head in vivo and demonstrated its potential as a treatment for neurological disorders.


Bree Jimenez

Dr. Bree Jimenez is an Associate Professor and Special Education Program Coordinator at the University of Texas at Arlington. She has over 25 years of experience in special education, working as a classroom teacher, research liaison, and lead research associate. Her research focuses on general curriculum access and assessment for students with intellectual disability and autism, particularly in STEM instruction. She has received over $3 million in external funding and has authored numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and books on supporting academics for students with disabilities. Dr. Jimenez collaborates with teachers, administrators, and education departments nationally and internationally. She is also the president-elect for the Division for Autism and Developmental Disabilities of the Council for Exceptional Children and has contributed to multiple academic classroom curriculum.


Christian Zlolniski

Christian Zlolniski is Professor of Anthropology at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Research Associate at the Center for Mexican American Studies. He obtained a Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research focuses on labor and transnational migration, with regional focus on the Mexico-U.S. border. He is the author of several books including Made in Baja: The Lives of Farmworkers and Growers behind Mexico’s Transnational Agricultural Boom (University of California Press 2019), and Janitors, Street Vendors and Activists: The Lives of Mexican Immigrants in Silicon Valley (UC Press 2006). Since 2020, he is Chief Editor of the journal Mexican Studies/ Estudios Mexicanos published by UC Press. His research has been founded by grants from NSF, Wenner-Gren Foundation, and CONACYT (Mexico), among others. Currently he is studying the labor and environmental impacts of the extraction of beach rocks in northern Mexico for US commercial markets. Recently he and Dr. Luis Plascencia were awarded a Russell Sage Foundation grant to study the employment of temporary laborers from Mexico in Texas under the H-2B work visa program.


Edmund Prater

Edmund Prater is a Professor of Global Supply Chain Operations at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). He oversees the Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) as Executive Director. The VBOC is funded by $5.6M in grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration. It supports veterans in starting businesses and teaches entrepreneurship to active duty military personnel on all military bases in north Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. It also hosted Ukraine's first veterans job fair in 2021.   Dr. Prater came to academics later in life. He received his B.S. and M.S. Degrees in Electrical Engineering before entering industry. At BellSouth (now AT&T), he oversaw technology forecasting and Artificial Intelligence development and received the corporation's top award for innovation. When communism fell in Russia, he co-founded an import/export firm with offices in St. Petersburg and Moscow. He ran this for close to four years before returning to Georgia Tech and receiving an M.S. in Industrial Engineering and a Ph.D. in Operations Management. As an academic, he has published 48 peer-reviewed papers, 6 book chapters, and a textbook. He has also taught at universities in Asia and Europe for the past 20 years.  He currently raises cattle on his ranch and provides hot-shot trucking services for local industry.


Laura Mydlarz

Laura Mydlarz is a distinguished professor and researcher at the University of Texas at Arlington, specializing in coral disease and immunity. She has a passion for marine biology, earning her degrees from Florida Atlantic University and the University of California Santa Barbara. She has conducted extensive research on coral health and immunity, receiving grants from NSF and NOAA. Mydlarz has an impressive tenure as an educator, offering courses in biology and marine biology. She has received multiple teaching awards and is dedicated to providing hands-on learning experiences for students. She is also an advocate for women in science, promoting diversity and equity in STEM fields.


R. Matthew Brothers

R. Matthew Brothers is a Professor and Associate Chair of Graduate Programs in Exercise Science in the Department of Kinesiology. I am also the Director of the Vascular and Integrative Physiology Laboratory. The primary focus of the laboratory is the mechanistic assessment of cardiovascular, cerebral vascular, and neurocognitive function in healthy individuals as well as in populations with elevated risk for various cardiovascular, metabolic, and cerebrovascular/neurocognitive diseases or conditions. We are specifically, focused on the non-Hispanic Black population who are at a greater risk for these aforementioned conditions relative to other populations. Most recently we have begun to examine the link between social determinants of health and altered vascular function / elevated disease risk in this population. My work has been continuously funded by the National Institute of Health, the American Heart Association, and various Industry partners. I am also the Co-Principal Investigator on two different grants through the UTA Interdisciplinary Research Program. Lastly, I am the co-director, with Dr. Michael Nelson (Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology), of the UTA Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Integrative Physiology (SURPINT). This program is funded by the National Institute of Health and the American heart Association and provides intense hands-on experiences in biomedical research to undergraduate students over a 10-week period each summer.


Rebecca Deen

Dr. Rebecca Deen is the Senior Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and a Professor of Political Science. She has published many articles on women in the political process, the U.S. presidency, and effective pedagogy in journals such as Women & Politics, State and Local Government Review, Congress & the Presidency and Judicature. Current research includes an exploration of the relationship among civic engagement, local policy and political recruitment, as well as an examination of the politics of school-related volunteer organizations and their role in educational policy. Dr. Deen has held leadership positions with the American Political Science Association, chairing the Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession, the Committee on the Status of Asian American/Pacific Islanders in the Profession, and the Search Committee for the editors of PS, one of the Associations lead journals. She is also the recipient of numerous teaching awards, including the UT Board of Regents Outstanding Teaching Award.


Hayden Blackburn

Hayden has centered his career around social entrepreneurship and economic development and while most of us imagine a dream job; as Executive Director of Tech Fort Worth and Director of Cowtown Angels, Hayden is in his. He serves on the boards of organizations working in economic development and education, including the International Business Innovation Association, Near Southside Inc., and the Fort Worth Public Library Foundation. Before joining TechFW, Hayden was the founding Director of IDEA Works Fort Worth, a mixed-industry incubator formed in 2013 in a public-private partnership to fill a gap in the Fort Worth entrepreneurial ecosystem. Over the years he has also helped organize multiple community staples for entrepreneurs, including Startup Weekend and 1 Million Cups, and got his start in social entrepreneurship in 2007 where he fell in love with helping founders realize their visions.


Please check back as this list will be updated as additional speakers are confirmed.