NAU Innovations Advisory Board
The NAU Innovations Advisory Board was established in July 2015 to provide strategic guidance, advice, and suggestions to NAU Innovations on issues related to industry partnerships, sponsors, and commercialization.
The Board’s support is expected to help NAU Innovations serve faculty in transforming their research in ways that will generate real impact for society.
NAU Innovations is also seeking additional Advisory Board members with industry connections. Please contact NAUInnovations@nau.edu for more information.
George Adams Accordion Closed
George Adams serves on both the NAU Foundation and NAU Ventures Committee
Richard Boals, PhD Accordion Closed
Dr. Boals is former CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Bertrand Cambou, PhD Accordion Closed
Dr. Cambou has had a long career in senior positions with Motorola and has been involved in multiple technology start-up companies over the past 15 years. While at Motorola, he was designated as a “distinguished innovator” and served as Scientific Adviser to the Board of Directors. Dr. Cambou has received 31 patents (with 340 citations) in microelectronics. His main current interest is research in the area of cybersecurity, in particular focusing on how to strengthen the level of security at the Secure Element level with both improved hardware and software. In the last several years, he has developed a new class of “spintronic” devices using magnetic elements, and filed 16 patents. Dr. Cambou invented the concept of “Match In Place,” an authentication process that protects cryptographic keys and authentication patterns. He won a contract with the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) that can open up the door for a new method of “Quantum Cryptography.” Most recently, he enlarged this concept to be applicable to mainstream systems on chips that incorporate embedded Flash, DRAM, and Resistive RAM. These solutions have the potential to profoundly impact cybersecurity, and he would like to take the concept to a higher level at a leading academic institution like NAU.
Thomas Kwan Cheng Accordion Closed
Tom Cheng is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at NAU’s W. A. Franke College of Business. His involvement includes promoting entrepreneurship with students, faculty, and researchers, and advancing the university’s intellectual properties through commercialization. Prior to coming to NAU, he held a similar position at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Tom was previously the owner/president of a vertical company that manufactured dancing attire and distributed its products via wholesale and retail channels. Tom was also involved in several startups in healthcare and online retail businesses. During his career, he spent 20 years in engineering with several nationally known apparel companies. He was often credited for producing quality products with innovative processes in limited resource environments.
Ruminder Dhillon, MBA Accordion Closed
Ruminder Dhillon is founder and Managing Director of The Arizona Founders Fund, a first seed stage capital fund designed to support Arizona technology entrepreneurs to build exceptional companies. Prior to this position, he was an Associate at vSpring Capital. He is also a Senior Associate at Kickstart Seed Fund. He has worked for Thunderbird School of Global Management in Phoenix, AZ. As a full-time student, Ruminder also worked full-time as a Strategy Associate at Evolution Capital Partners. Prior to that, he managed the India Practice Group for The Conrad Group, LLC. Ruminder holds an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management, an MA from Columbia University, a Certificate in Venture Capital Development from the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, India, and a BA from Emory University.
Scott Hathcock Accordion Closed
Scott Hathcock presently serves as the CEO of Moonshot at NACET in Flagstaff, AZ, helping entrepreneurs build successful start-ups and brands. Scott is a Sales and Marketing and Business Development Executive with 20 years of experience of diverse media experience, including the sale of media services, creative services, and digital content delivery for Fortune 100 companies to start-ups. He has an established track record for managing key accounts, growing distribution, creating ROI, solidifying brand loyalty, and industry recognition.
Prior to joining NACET, Scott served as Vice President at the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce. He is also a Co-Founder of Flagstaff Tech Track, a business-led collaboration of digital products companies in the greater Flagstaff region working together to improve competitiveness of the sector and position Flagstaff as a digital hub.
Gail Jackson Accordion Closed
Gail Jackson is the Business Attraction Manager for the City of Flagstaff and leads the city’s business recruitment efforts. Prior to joining the Economic Development team, Gail was at the Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau and spent many years in resort sales and marketing, where she held various management positions with Enchantment Resort in Sedona, AZ and Pebble Beach Resorts in Pebble Beach, CA. Gail is passionate about welcoming new businesses to our community and adding to Flagstaff’s economic prosperity.
David Johns, JD Accordion Closed
David Johns has been Intellectual Property Counsel to W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. since 1993. Gore is a diversified multi-national company with a wide variety of products, including implantable medical devices, GORE-TEX® fabrics, industrial and electronic products, ELIXIR® guitar strings, and numerous other innovations. During his tenure at Gore, David has provided legal support in virtually every aspect of intellectual property law, including patent preparation and prosecution, trademark clearance and registration, patent and trademark litigation, and IP transactions. David also leads Gore’s global trademark team. He currently serves on the board of the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET).
Joanne Keene, MPA Accordion Closed
Joanne Keene has served as the Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff for Northern Arizona University since May 2015. Prior to joining NAU, Joanne worked for almost 20 years in federal, state, and local government roles, including Government Relations Director for Coconino County and Public Information Officer for the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Joanne spent eight years working for the U.S. House of Representatives, five of those years in Washington, DC. Joanne is a graduate of NAU with a Master of Public Administration and a Bachelors in English and Broadcast Journalism. Joanne is also a Certified Public Manager through ASU and a Flinn-Brown Fellow.
Rickey McCurry, JD Accordion Closed
Rickey N. McCurry, JD, is NAU’s Vice President of Development and Alumni Engagement and the Executive Director of the NAU Foundation. Prior to joining NAU, Rickey was the Vice President of Development for the University of Tennessee system, as well as the CEO of the UT Foundation, Inc. and Executive Director for the UT Alumni Association.
He has been an active member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) since 1984, including service on the Institutionally Related Foundation Board, the Commission on Philanthropy, Chair of District V, and currently a trustee on the Global Board. In 2009, he was recognized as the CASE-Commonfund Foundation CEO of the Year.
Rickey brings to NAU his extensive experience with comprehensive campaigns, planned giving, nonprofit organizations, annual fund, program evaluation, board and staff development, leadership transitions, and conflict resolution.
Nina Ossanna, PhD Accordion Closed
Nina Ossanna is a Principal at Sonora Bioconsulting, where she advises in life sciences business development, intellectual asset management, and technology transfer. For the previous ten years, she served as The University of Arizona’s interim Director of the Office of Technology Transfer and as Co-Director of BIO5 Oro Valley/Director of Business Development for the BIO5 Institute. She also served as a mentor in the UA Eller College’s McGuire Entrepreneurship Program and as faculty for the Advanced Technology Transfer Program in Mexico.
Nina is active in the community as Chair-Emeritus of the Southern Arizona Bioindustry Association (BIOSA) and was a past chair of AZBio. She serves on the Executive Advisory Board for the new journal Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship. Prior to joining UA in 1995, she was Senior Director of Business Development and Intellectual Property/Corporate Secretary for ImaRx Therapeutics, a Tucson biopharmaceutical company. Before that, Dr. Ossanna spent eight years at The Johns Hopkins University of Medicine’s Office of Technology Licensing, including serving as the director of that office.
She is a former patent examiner in the biotechnology arts at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and is a registered patent agent. Nina earned her PhD in Molecular Biology from UA.
Kenneth Polasko, PhD, MBA Accordion Closed
With more than 25 years of experience in technology commercialization, research and development, and manufacturing, Ken Polasko is the Executive Vice President for Physical Sciences at Skysong Innovations. He came to Skysong Innovations from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), where he was the Director of Business Development and Industry-Sponsored Research.
Before joining UCLA, Ken held various positions within Motorola, including: Director, Technology and Quality; Director, Research and Development; Manufacturing Manager; Manager, Technology Transfer and Protection, and established a successful internal venturing fund, The Eureka Fund. He began his industrial career as a researcher for GE’s Corporate Research and Development Center in Schenectady, New York, where he was part of the original team that developed GE’s digital medical x-ray imaging technology now in many hospitals. During his graduate work at Stanford, he served as the CTO for a startup company based in Palo Alto, California, utilizing sensory deprivation to improve athletic performance.
Ken has a BS in electrical engineering from University of Pittsburgh and an MS in electrical engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he worked for Professor Herbert Kroemer (2000 Nobel Prize in Physics). In addition, Ken holds an MS in materials science, a PhD in electrical engineering, and an MBA from Stanford University. While at Stanford, Ken conceived and led an effort resulting in the awarding of one of the original Feynman Prizes proposed in Richard Feynman’s (1965 Nobel Prize in Physics) classic talk “There is Plenty of Room at the Bottom.” Ken is a member of the Advisory Board for The Science Hub at Arizona State University, led by Professor Frank Wilczek (2004 Nobel Prize in Physics) and Lamonte H. Lawrence Professor Nathan Newman and the Professional Science Master’s in Nanoscience Program at ASU. He has four issued patents and more than 25 publications.
Sherri Slayton Accordion Closed
Sherri Slayton is an Executive Vice President of Western Alliance Bank. Sherri joined Alliance Bank of Arizona, a division of Western Alliance Bank, in March 2006, and has more than 30 years of commercial lending, small business, and retail banking experience. An active member of the community, she is currently a member of the Boards of Northern Arizona University Foundation and Vitalyst Health Foundation. She has previously served on the Boards of The W. A. Franke College of Business at NAU, Arizona Bankers Association, Flagstaff Medical Center, and Northern Arizona Healthcare, Boys and Girls Clubs of Flagstaff, and Coconino Regional Council for First Things First. Sherri was inducted into the NAU W. A. Franke Alumni Hall of Fame and was named one of Arizona’s Most Influential Women in Business. She is a Chartered Financial Analyst.
Chad Testa, PhD Accordion Closed
Dr. Testa is Vice President at Cūrza Global, LLC, which develops novel antibacterial agents with a new mechanism of action that selectively target bacterial protein synthesis. He has more than 15 years of bioscience experience spent in private sector biotech/chemical organizations. In his current role, his duties include leading all biological/biochemical characterization; establishing and managing grants, contracts, and collaborations; contributing to conception of novel chemotypes; and is a member of the core team that determines project progression, timelines, and overall direction of all programs.
Chad is also co-Director of the University of Utah Synthetic and Medicinal Chemistry Core, where he provides support for projects across campus, including design of novel biological/biochemical assays and probe development. Previously, Chad was at Echelon Biosciences/Frontier Scientific, where he rose from bench scientist to Vice President of Research and Development.
Chad is an accomplished chemical biologist with a diverse multi-disciplinary background. He led the development of an antibacterial discovery and development platform targeting the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway and biological/chemical products to study biological pathways and develop therapeutics. In this role, he directed projects and product development efforts focused on discovery and development of antimicrobial agents [targeting the MEP pathway, photodynamic therapy], diagnostic and biomarker assays (in vitro and in vivo for a variety of disease targets involved in cancer, inflammation, and antimicrobials), and new chemicals (small molecule building blocks).
Chad has been awarded numerous grants (SBIR, R01, CARB-X) from NIAID, NCI, FDA, and NSF as principal investigator and has served as a reviewer for NIH-NIAID and NSF SBIR programs. His scientific expertise has been recognized with 10 published peer-reviewed research papers and 2 issued patents. Chad possesses strong communication skills that have been used to establish collaborative relationships for portfolio advancement, presenting research activities to outside parties, at conferences, and as an exhibitor at trade shows.
Mickey Urdea, PhD Accordion Closed
Dr. Urdea is founder and partner at Halteres Associates. He founded the Nucleic Acid Diagnostics business at Chiron Corporation, where he pioneered viral load assays for the human hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency viruses; his team introduced the first commercial viral load assays for all three viruses. Mickey also headed the Oncology Diagnostics business unit at Chiron. He then became business head of the Molecular Diagnostics group and Chief Scientific Officer at Bayer Diagnostics. After he left Bayer, Mickey was CEO of Quantum Dots Corporation. Later, he founded and served as Chief Executive Officer of Tethys Bioscience, a proteomics-based diagnostics company that was involved in laboratory tests to help prevent type 2 diabetes. Additionally, Mickey is a founder and the Chairman of Catalysis Foundation for Health (CFH), a non-profit organization addressing gaps in global healthcare caused by inefficiencies in disease diagnosis and monitoring; CFH is developing potential biomarkers for tuberculosis bacterial load with grant funding from the Gates Foundation and the FNIH. He is a member of the University of California at San Francisco Leadership Council for Global Health. He founded Halteres Associates in 2002, a biotech consulting firm with a special emphasis on diagnostics products and services. Mickey serves on the scientific advisory boards and boards of directors of a number of biotechnology and diagnostics companies; he is an author on more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific publications and has more than 125 issued and pending patents.
Gregory Winn Accordion Closed
Gregory Winn is former CEO of US West.
J. Stewart Witzeman, PhD Accordion Closed
Dr. Witzeman is an independent consultant specializing in various aspects of innovation and university-industry partnerships. Prior to starting his consulting practice, Stewart worked for Eastman Chemical Company for over 30 years, where he managed a wide range of industrial research and innovation organizations. Stewart remains active with a number of professional organizations, including the Innovation Research Interchange (IRI) where he served on the board of directors and ultimately as board chairman of the American Chemical Society, where he leads local STEM education initiatives.
A proud Lumberjack, Stewart received bachelor’s degrees in Chemistry and Environmental Science from NAU. He also holds a PhD in Organic Chemistry from The University of California, Santa Barbara and was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at The University of Chicago.