This news release is from the previous Governor's administration.
For Immediate Release: February 5, 2016
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Brian Coy, 804-225-4260, | Science Museum of Virginia: Chrissy Caldwell,

Governor McAuliffe Announces Virginia’s Outstanding STEM Awards


Governor Terry McAuliffe and Science Museum of Virginia Chief Wonder Officer Richard C. Conti are pleased to announce the 2016 Outstanding STEM Awards recipients for Virginia. The honorees will receive their awards at the Science Museum of Virginia on Thursday, February 25. Award categories include Virginia’s Outstanding Scientists and the Governor’s Award for Science Innovation, alongside two new award categories introduced to the program this year: STEM Catalyst and STEM Phenom. 

“The innovations and discoveries by these outstanding individuals and companies are essential to our work as we build a new Virginia economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “As we continue the tradition of honoring professionals and businesses that make significant contributions to science, it is fitting that we also recognize students and individual citizens who are using STEM to make Virginia a better place.” 

“The Museum’s mission is to inspire, and this year’s honorees accomplish this on many levels,” said Conti. 

Virginia’s Outstanding Scientists
Supriyo Bandyopadhyay, Ph.D.
Dr. Supriyo Bandyopadhyay is Commonwealth Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University. Recently, Dr. Bandyopadhyay has been applying his ideas to make electronic gadgets out of tiny magnets roughly one thousand times smaller than the thickness of human hair. These magnets consume so little energy they can work without a battery by harvesting energy from 4G networks, TV signals and even vibrations from wind. 

He is an international leader in the field of spintronics, the science of using the quantum mechanical spin properties of electrons to store, process and communicate information. He is also a pioneer in the field of straintronics, which involves manipulating the magnetization states of tiny nanomagnets with electrically generated mechanical strain for ultralow energy computing and signal processing. His work extends into nanostructured devices, in which he made seminal contributions to the electrochemical self-assembly of nanostructures and co-holds three patents related to this invention. 

Jerry L. Nadler, M.D., M.A.C.P., F.A.H.A.
Dr. Jerry Nadler is Professor, the Harry H. Mansbach Endowed Chair in Internal Medicine and Vice Dean of Research at Eastern Virginia Medical School. Dr. Nadler’s work focuses on better understanding and preventing the cardiovascular complications caused by diabetes and obesity. 

Dr. Nadler is a physician-scientist who is internationally recognized for identifying inflammatory pathways leading to pancreatic beta cell damage, insulin resistance and atherosclerosis. His research of diabetes has led to the development of preventative therapies and the identification of new small molecules blocking 12-Lipoxygenase activity. Dr. Nadler has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and given numerous invited talks at international conferences. He holds 15 patents for biomarkers and novel therapeutics. He is part of a major international project to help identify whether a virus could be a trigger for Type 1 diabetes. 

Governor’s Award for Science Innovation
ivWatch has developed a medical device that detects when a patient’s IV is leaking, referred to as an infiltration. With an IV failure rate in the U.S. of nearly 23 percent due to infiltrations, this device continuously monitors the IV site and notifies caregivers if conditions indicate a possible issue.

ivWatch emerged from the ingenuity of a small, Virginia-based medical research and development company. With a focus on improving patient safety, a team of vascular access leaders, biomedical engineers, nurses and doctors invented the ivWatch Model 400 – a device that provides early detection of infiltrations by continuously monitoring peripheral IV sites. An optical sensor uses visible and near-infrared light to detect slight changes in the optical properties of the tissue, and the patient monitor processes the returning light using a proprietary algorithm. The device notifies caregivers if conditions suggest an infiltration, allowing them to address the issue before it causes patient harm. The ivWatch Model 400 represents a new option for medical professionals prescribing IV therapy – a continuously monitored peripheral IV. This allows for less intrusive infusion therapy methods that can reduce costs, risk, patient harm and medication dosing errors. 

STEM Catalyst
Joshua Smith
Josh Smith is the founder of Handizap and a 2013 Mechanical Engineering graduate from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. In August 2014, while visiting Virginia Beach, Josh dove into a wave and struck a sandbar, causing a burst fracture of his C-5 vertebrate – resulting in him becoming a C-6 quadriplegic. While in physical rehabilitation, Josh was given assistive technology to help him use his electronic devices; however, these devices required continued assistance to use. As a solution to this problem, Josh developed a ring stylus that could be worn on the pinky finger, named the Sixth Digit. 

In March 2015, Josh and friend Jared Rhodes founded Handizap via a Kickstarter campaign to manufacture the Sixth Digit and develop assistive technologies. Since the initial shipment in September, the Sixth Digit has been delivered to Kickstarter supporters, rehabilitation facilities, businesses, and individuals across 22 states and eight countries worldwide. 

STEM Phenom
Ava Lakmazaheri
Ava Lakmazaheri is a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. She has been involved in robotics competitions since elementary school, winning numerous awards at the National and International VEX Robotics Championships. After taking a neuroscience course two years ago, she has actively researched and experimented with brain-actuated robots in the hopes of creating assistive technology. Ava’s work has expanded to include the use of multiple biosignals for communicating and controlling assistive robotic systems via an intelligent natural language-based interface. Her long-term goal is to design, build and distribute practical and cost-effective consumer-grade assistive robotic technologies internationally. 

Ava plans to study engineering, neuroscience and entrepreneurship in college. She has received numerous awards at the Science and Engineering Fairs in the state and placed first in the Robotics and Intelligent Machines Category at the 2015 Intel Science and Engineering Fair. 

This award ceremony is made possible by the support of the Dominion Foundation, the charitable arm of Dominion Resources; Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Garner, Jr.; and Dr. and Mrs. William V. Garner.