UNHInnovation is proud to recognize the outstanding achievements of Dr. Christine Shea, Kate Hester Siler, and Jeffrey Halpern, the latest recipients of the J. Brent Loy Innovator of the Year Award. Shea and Siler were honored as the 2022 recipients for their work developing IncludeU®, a groundbreaking, research-backed bystander intervention training platform aimed at improving academic workplace climate through education and awareness of unconscious bias. Halpern, awardee for 2023, was recognized for his contributions to biosensing and fostering a culture of research innovation at UNH. The awards were presented on May 2, 2023, during the UNH Research, Economic Engagement and Outreach (REEO) annual celebration.

UNHInnovation celebrates the 2022 and 2023 Innovators of the Year (l to r) Professor Jeffrey Halpern, Kate Hester Siler, Dr. Christine Shea, with Marc Eichenbereger, Assistant Vice President and Chief Business Development and Innovation Officer.

The J. Brent Loy Innovator of the Year Award honors the late Dr. Loy, a distinguished professor emeritus and longtime NH Agricultural Experiment Station researcher. Dr. Loy's research on cucurbit varieties is a core part of UNH's intellectual property portfolio and was a driving factor in the development of UNH’s technology transfer program. The award recognizes outstanding innovators at UNH who are making significant contributions to their fields and advancing the university's mission of research and innovation, continuing Dr. Loy's legacy.

Shea and Siler were recognized as the 2022 awardees for their significant contributions to UNH's mission of research commercialization through the development of IncludeU®, an online course that uses animated scenarios to provide examples of how faculty can intervene when they see bias occurring. Shea has also published research on leadership, champions of innovation, and bystander intervention in leading journals, and has held various administrative positions at UNH's Paul College of Business and Economics. Siler has managed UNH's ADVANCE Institutional Transformation and ADVANCE Partnership grant programs. Her work is focused on improving workplace climate and reducing bias incidents through programs that support faculty recruitment, retention, and mentoring. She has also served on several university committees and worked on translating scientific concepts into accessible curriculum and professional development offerings in previous positions.

Halpern, 2023 awardee, is an associate professor of chemical engineering in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and is a named innovator on five patents, including two issued and two pending, all related to biosensors. His interdisciplinary approach to sensor development involves surface chemistry, materials science, and electrochemistry. He is recognized not only for his work on biosensors, but for developing a culture of innovation at the university and has mentored over 25 undergraduates and summer interns, nine graduate students, and two postdoctoral researchers from seven different academic programs. He was recently honored with the Herb Epstein award for Technical Programing from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) in 2022. Halpern’s work has been supported by various grants, including from the NIH and NSF, and he currently leads a team designing protein sensors in biomanufacturing settings across four states and building a sepsis sensor on a urinary catheter line.

The Innovator of the Year ceremony included a panel discussion, which included (l to r) Professor Anyin Li, Professor Jeffrey Halpern, Dr. Christine Shea, and Kate Siler.

Breaking from the pre-COVID tradition, the Innovator of the Year Awards were presented by Marc Eichenberger, Associate Vice President and Chief Business Development and Innovation Officer, as part of the UNH REEO annual celebration and will be included as a part of this event going forward. President Jim Dean, Provost Wayne Jones, and Senior Vice Provost of Research, Economic Engagement and Outreach Marian McCord offered remarks, commending all of the evening's honorees for their impactful work. In addition to recognizing these awardees, the event also celebrates research faculty and staff who received prestigious non-institutional honors, and in a new addition this year, a panel discussing the impact of innovations created at UNH, moderated by Jenna Matheny, Director of Technology Transfer at UNHInnovation.

“Innovation and research are at the heart of our mission at UNH,” said Eichenberger. “This award represents years of dedication to their work. Tonight, we’re celebrating the success of those research efforts, but also the overall contributions to their field and the impact on not only UNH and the academic community, but the greater public good.”

UNHInnovation provides resources and support for the university’s research and innovation work, including intellectual property protection and commercialization, funding opportunities, and industry partnerships. For those interested in learning more about UNHInnovation and the J. Brent Loy Innovator of the Year Award visit the award web page. Congratulations to the awardees for their outstanding achievements and contributions to UNH's mission of research excellence.