Meet Jess Flarity

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Greetings—my name is Jess Flarity and I am the new Graduate Licensing Assistant at UNHInnovation. My role at UNHI is to facilitate and recruit for UNH’s I-Corps Site program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation to help innovations generated by the university evolve from being research ideas into marketable products. You might see me at campus events speaking with prospective students or holding information sessions in T-Hall and the MUB. If you sign up to participate in I-Corps, which is now held virtually, you’ll see me on Zoom as we discuss the basics of entrepreneurship and determine the goals of your team’s innovation. Our cohorts consist of 3-5 teams of innovators—the next one will run in February—but we will also have additional opportunities later in the spring and summer semester as we expand the program.

I am a former middle school science teacher from the Seattle region and a third year Ph.D. candidate in Literature at UNH specializing in science fiction criticism. Sci-fi writers have a long history of generating futuristic ideas in their imaginations that end up becoming real-life inventions. Early examples of this include Jules Verne’s submarines, airships and tanks in his novels throughout the 1870’s; the notoriously accurate short story “Deadline” by Cleve Cartmill in 1944 that predicted the atom bomb (and promptly got the publisher a visit from the FBI); and more recently with Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, the 1992 cyberpunk novel that inspired Google Earth and the controversial rebranding of Facebook into a company simply called Meta. My research experience as a sci-fi expert (aka nerd) is beneficial in my role as an I-Corps instructor because it allows me to make broad connections across multiple disciplines concerning prospective innovations, as well as forecast potential trends and future patterns in various market segments.

One project I am currently working on with Licensing Manager Beth Sheckler is to create a booklet of UNH-owned innovations that teams can use to complete the program if they don’t have an idea of their own. This will open I-Corps up to a wider range of students outside the more traditional STEM fields we tend to see, as well as teach valuable business skills to those who might be interested in working in related industries once they graduate. Some of the innovations we are offering in the booklet include expanding Nature Groupie into a nationwide service, growing the public awareness of the Lotte Jacobi collection and many others. I am excited to be part of the team here at UNHI!