Ninth Innovate New Mexico® Highlights Latest Research and Technology from Seven Research Institutes

Innovate New Mexico®, a network of the state’s seven leading technology-transfer organizations, held its annual event featuring representatives and researchers from the state’s major research universities and national labs on Tuesday, March 1.

The showcase was held online via Zoom and featured 12 technology pitches from the University of New Mexico, Air Force Research Lab, Los Alamos National Lab, Sandia National Labs, NASA-White Sands Test Facility, New Mexico Tech, and New Mexico State University.

Jon Clark, Deputy Chair and Secretary at the New Mexico Economic Development Department kicked off the event with opening remarks followed by keynote speaker Abhi Mukherjee, Operating Partner of CerraCap Ventures. CerraCap is a technology venture capital firm that works to build global companies using a “sales and scale™” model, enabling disruption and producing significant value.

Mr. Mukherjee’s keynote, entitled “The Innovation Quotient,” focused on how an innovation framework involving technology, talent, infrastructure, capital, and corporate produces significant and disruptive change. Part of utilizing that framework is determining which individual components are already supplied in one place and filling in, so to speak, the rest. Part of CerraCap’s goal is to understand how they can be a part of the innovation ecosystem already cultivated here in New Mexico to add value to convert dreams into innovations.

Lisa and Keynote Speaker

Left to right: Abhi Mukherjee and Lisa Kuuttila

Technology Pitches

Throughout the morning there were nine technology presentations in the physical sciences followed by five minutes of questioning by friendly “sharks” from the business community. The morning session “sharks” included Matthias Weber, Venture Partner of Mighty Capital; Julia Davourie, Venture Capital Investor at Phoenix Venture Partners; and John Chavez, Managing Director of New Mexico Start-Up Factory.

Sharks - morning

Left to right: Matthias Weber, John Chavez, and Julia Davourie

The first morning session was moderated by Lisa Kuuttila, CEO & Chief Economic Development Officer of UNM Rainforest Innovations, and presentations included:

  • “NASA White Sands Testing Facilities Capabilities,” by Joe Bullington, Commercialization Manager, Jacobs Technology, Inc.
  • “High Quality AlSb for Radiation Detection,” by Ganesh Balakrishnan, Ph.D., Director of the New Mexico EPSCoR and Professor, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering; and Adam Hecht, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Nuclear Engineering, both at the University of New Mexico.
  • “Two-dimensional Silicon Carbide: An Emerging Semiconducting Material,” by Sakineh Chabi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, the University of New Mexico.

The second morning session was moderated by Matt O’Brien, Technology Engagement Branch Chief at Air Force Research Laboratory and the technology presentations included:

  • “ReTRACe: Verifiable Blockchain Rewrites to Meet Privacy Regulations,” by Roopa Vishwanathan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, New Mexico State University.
  • “Novel Spacecraft Heat Pipes,” by Jon Allison, Thermal Trust Lead, Air Force Research Laboratory.
  • “ASSESS: Faster Inspections, Faster Launches,” by Ian Cummings, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher, Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The third morning session was moderated by David Kistin, Manager of Technology and Economic Development at Sandia National Laboratories and the technology presentations included:

  • “Bio-Inspired GeoTechnics,” by Paola Bandini, Ph.D., P.E., Wells-Hath Professor, Civil Engineering Department, New Mexico State University.
  • “Revolutionizing Manufacturing through Machine Learning,” by Hojun Lim, Ph.D., Principal Member of Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratories.
  • “Engineered Carbons for Biomedical Applications,” by Nikolai Kalugin, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering, New Mexico Tech.

There was a break for lunch followed by six technology presentations in the life sciences.

The friendly “sharks” included Mike Freeman, General Partner at Innosphere Ventures; Kirsten Leute, Partner of Osage University Partners; and Matthew Ongaro, Junior Partner of Cottonwood Technology Fund.

 Left to right: Kirsten Leute, Mike Freeman, and Matthew Ongaro

Left to right: Kirsten Leute, Mike Freeman, and Matthew Ongaro

The first afternoon session was moderated by Mariann Johnston, Project Manager at the Feynman Center for Innovation at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the technology presentations included:

  • “Transforming Cancer Cells into Microbe Mimetics,” by Rita Serda, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering, the University of New Mexico.
  • “MycoDelens: a novel, drug-resistance-insensitive and human skin-compatible antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral disinfectant,” by Snežna Rogelj, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Biology, New Mexico Tech.
  • “Pignostics: Faster Testing for Better Herd Health,” by Dan Jacobsen, Ph.D., Postdoc Researcher, Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The second and final afternoon session was moderated by Myrriah Tomar, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Office of Innovation and Commercialization at New Mexico Tech and the technology presentations included:

  • “GenomicAI: find your next biotech opportunity with an AI lens,” by Shounak Banerjee, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher, Los Alamos National Laboratory.
  • “Breezy Robotics,” by Matthew Ennis, Ph.D., Chief Strategy Officer, Build with Robots.
  • “Bovine Respiratory Testing,” by Craig Gifford, Ph.D., Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, Department of Extension Animal Sciences & Natural Resources, New Mexico State University.

Innovate New Mexico ended with closing remarks from Jennifer Sinsabaugh, CEO of the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).

To learn more about Innovate New Mexico, visit

A recording of the event will be available on YouTube.