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Governor Praises UC as Major Research Power

The Ohio governor visited UC on March 18 to learn more about the university's impact on commercialization of discoveries.

Date: 3/21/2011 2:00:00 PM
By: Marianne Kunnen-Jones
Phone: (513) 556-2019
Photos By: Dottie Stover

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Photo of Governor Kasich, Associate Professor Jason Heikenfeld as UC President Gregory H. Williams and Chancellor Jim Petro look on
Governor John R. Kasich shows researcher Jason Heikenfeld his approval of his latest start-up company.

Ohio Governor John R. Kasich and Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro visited UC on March 18, meeting with President Gregory H. Williams, Board of Trustees Chair Sandra Heimann as well as other university officials and touring the Novel Device Lab in Rhodes Hall with Associate Professor Jason Heikenfeld to learn more about how UC is commercializing faculty discoveries.

The governor, similar to comments made during his State of the State Address on March 8, indicated that UC is a major research university that is often “not getting credit” for the great work going on here. UC has a lot of “things happening that are terrific,” he said.

Heikenfield, a faculty member and researcher in electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, told the governor about two new products that Crayola has released as a result of his research. He also impressed the governor with the news that he is an owner of a second start-up company, Gamma Dynamics.  The governor gave him “the rock,” bumping clenched fists together with Heikenfeld as a sign of his approval. Gamma Dynamics employs seven people in Cincinnati and will be increasing to 15-20 employees this fall.

Heikenfeld also stressed that he has many corporate partners globally, including Sun Chemical, which hires local staff linked to Heikenfeld’s work with them. With the help of UC’s breakthrough research in creating color electronic “paper,” Sun’s Ohio unit is now among its most successful anywhere, Heikenfeld said.

Governor Kasich got a hands-on demonstration of a microfluidic device that may someday allow U.S. military forces to recognize their comrades on the battlefield and avoid “friendly fire” casualties. He also heard about the development of camouflage that could act like a chameleon and change its appearance to its surrounding environment. The governor also tested a “Band-Aid-like” device that is intended to monitor the body’s vital signs and stress levels. He joked that perhaps he should wear it during news conferences.

Photo of Governor Kasich and President Gregory H. Williams
Governor John R. Kasich with UC President Gregory H. Williams

Heikenfeld also showed the governor an old space in Rhodes Hall that was once used for computer chip research and development. That industry is now mature, and so the College of Engineering and Applied Science, with the help of Third Frontier funding, is converting these old spaces into new uses with  exciting possibilities for growth.

While he was here, Kasich was asked about a range of issues by journalists, including Cincinnati’s street car, which the governor is not inclined to support with state funding; charter universities; and the Senate Bill 5 legislation that proposes to eliminate collective bargaining by public employees.

President Williams, in response to reporters’ questions, reiterated his thoughts that in this tough budget time, the governor's proposed state budget has recognized the important role that higher education plays in the state’s future well-being and that the governor has done what he can to protect higher education. “We understand that everyone has to make a sacrifice,” President Williams said.