Meet the Team

Meet the Team

We are a 60-person professional staff dedicated to supporting all University of Chicago students, faculty, staff, alumni, and outside small business owners in navigating the complex process of creating and growing a startup or bringing their idea to market. We also serve as an important gateway for industry partners, helping them access new research and technologies from the University of Chicago.

Science and Technology

Science and Technology

Bill Payne, PhD

Bill Payne, PhD

Executive Director, Science and Technology

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Bill Payne, PhD

Executive Director, Science and Technology

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.834.7846
E: billpayne@uchicago.edu

Executive Assistant:
Beatriz Gonzalez
O: 773.834.3209
E: gonzalezb@uchicago.edu

Bill Payne is the executive director of science and technology at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago. In this role, he leads the technology commercialization, Polsky Science Ventures, and industry relations teams working to bring groundbreaking faculty research to the market.

As a seasoned business and technology executive from the telecommunications industry, Bill most recently served as vice president and chief operating officer of Roberson and Associates’ consulting. The firm’s clients are from various technology industries, and its services include intellectual property assessment and expert witness testimony.

Bill has held leadership roles in product and technology development at Nokia, Motorola, and AT&T. He had business unit chief technology officer (CTO) responsibilities at both Nokia and Motorola, driving innovations into commercial products and services. He led Nokia’s Small Cell Business Line, as well as the development of Motorola’s first commercial 4G/LTE cellular infrastructure products. As CTO of Motorola’s infrastructure business, he incentivized the development of idea disclosures and introduced an innovation gate process to track, promote, and move concepts toward patent filings and/or commercialization. Bill has 9 issued patents.

Bill is also a startup veteran—having founded and built a company that developed a mobile advertising and sponsorship service that was integrated into AT&T’s and Verizon’s networks and approved for use.

Bill received his BSEE from Purdue University, his MSEE from Georgia Tech, and his PhD in Electrical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He is a lifelong Chicagoan who enjoys boating and sports and is married to a Chicago Booth alumna.

Eric Ginsburg, PhD

Eric Ginsburg, PhD

Director, Market Intelligence and Commercialization Initiatives

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Eric Ginsburg, PhD

Director, Market Intelligence and Commercialization Initiatives

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.834.0746
E: ginsburg@uchicago.edu

Eric Ginsburg, PhD, serves as the director, market intelligence and commercialization initiatives at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Eric’s responsibilities include leading efforts to find commercial partners for University technologies and researchers. 

Prior to joining Polsky, Eric worked in research and development at Eastman Kodak and Abbott Laboratories, and was a postdoctoral researcher at the IBM Almaden Research Center.  

Eric earned a SB degree from MIT and a PhD from Caltech, both in Chemistry. His graduate work focused on the synthesis and characterization of soluble electrically conducting polymers. Eric is a registered patent agent and a certified licensing professional.  

In his spare time, Eric enjoys being somewhere like this or this as often as possible.

Heather Bakalyar, PhD, MBA

Heather Bakalyar, PhD, MBA

Director, Intellectual Property and Technology Development

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Heather Bakalyar, PhD, MBA

Director, Intellectual Property and Technology Development

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.702.8833
E: hbakalyar@uchicago.edu

Heather Bakalyar, PhD, MBA, serves as Director of Intellectual Property & Technology Development at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago.  Heather and her team work with faculty to transition raw discoveries to partnership-readiness by the strategic protection of intellectual property.  She also broadly engages with prospective and current licensees, entrepreneurs, and Polsky Center colleagues to promote the mission of the University and the Polsky Center.  

Prior to joining Polsky, Heather accumulated over twenty years of experience in the technology transfer, intellectual property, and commercialization fields. She headed a licensing team in the Technology Transfer department at Johns Hopkins University, closing hundreds of deals and coordinating several high-level, multi-departmental, R&D collaborations with industry partners. Her background includes focused responsibility in intellectual property, including work as a U.S. patent examiner and a director-level role in intellectual property management at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation. Heather has also worked in two clinical-stage biotechnology companies, providing market assessment, business development, and intellectual property support. 

Heather earned both a PhD in molecular biology and an MBA from Johns Hopkins University. She is a registered patent agent and has held a licensing professional certification (CLP). 

Heather is passionate about the transformation of discovery and invention into real world products that directly benefit the public and is proud to be a part of that at Polsky. In her spare time, she enjoys the outdoors and feels particularly fortunate to be living next to one of the Great Lakes, which she believes are a true natural wonder of the world. 

Thelma Tennant, PhD

Thelma Tennant, PhD

Director, Business Development and Licensing

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Thelma Tennant, PhD

Director, Business Development and Licensing

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.834.4020
E: trtennant@uchicago.edu

Thelma serves as the director, business development and licensing, at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.   She is responsible for licensing new university technologies to commercial partners, and works with faculty and her Polsky colleagues to find companies or build new companies that will transform scientific discoveries into products.   

Thelma holds a PhD in Cancer Biology from the University of Chicago, and received her BA in Biology and English from the University of Virginia. A native of Alexandria, Virginia, she enjoys off-shore sailboat racing and paddleboarding in her spare time. 

David Gross

David Gross

Director, Industry Relations and Strategy

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David Gross

Director, Industry Relations and Strategy

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.702.8443
E: davidgross@uchicago.edu

David Gross is the director of industry relations and strategy for the Polsky Center and has additional responsibilities related to industry relations and strategic alliances. He focuses on building relationships with industry partners on behalf of the Polsky Center and manages a portfolio of strategic projects in the areas of innovation and science.

Prior to moving to Chicago, Dave was the COO of a commercial construction company in Des Moines, Iowa. He has also worked in real estate strategy for Walgreens, and as a business analyst for Target in Minneapolis.

Dave holds an MBA from Duke University and a BA from Northwestern University in economics and geography. 

Preeti Chalsani, PhD

Preeti Chalsani, PhD

Director, Industry Partnerships for Quantum Information Science

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Preeti Chalsani, PhD

Director, Industry Partnerships for Quantum Information Science

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.702.0911
E: pchalsani@uchicago.edu

Preeti Chalsani, PhD, serves as the director of industry partnerships for quantum information science in a joint position with the Polsky Center and the Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE).

In this role, Preeti seeks to build connections between industry and CQE member research institutions with the goal of advancing development of quantum information science and enabling technologies. She interfaces with CQE researchers and manages a portfolio of industry partners ranging from Fortune 500 companies to startups to build strategic partnerships for research, knowledge and technology transfer, and workforce and ecosystem development. She engages the Polsky Center’s resources and network and the CQE’s technical expertise and talent to spur the creation and growth of new quantum information science ventures.

Prior to taking on this role, Preeti served in the Polsky Center team as Assistant Director, Technology Commercialization and Associate Director, Innovation Project Program Design. She worked with UChicago faculty in physical sciences and engineering to support commercialization of their research, including through the formation of new ventures. She also worked on collaborative initiatives with institutions such as Argonne National Lab and University of Illinois to help grow the innovation ecosystem around UChicago.

Preeti earned a bachelor’s of science in applied physics from Yale University and a PhD in applied physics from Cornell University where her doctoral research was in the area of spintronics. After finishing her graduate studies, Preeti worked as a nanotechnology consultant and postdoctoral researcher at the National Research Council in Canada and then transitioned to a career outside the lab by teaching physics at Dawson College in Montreal, Canada before eventually moving into the field of intellectual property. Preeti worked as a scientific advisor and Patent Agent at several law firms in Canada for almost a decade developing patent portfolios for clients including from multinational corporations with mature commercial products as well as universities and startups with emerging early-stage technologies. She has experience working on diverse technologies from automotive and consumer products to software and quantum technologies.

In her spare time, she enjoys binge watching TV shows and taking in the architectural and culinary delights of Chicago.

Omkar Bhave

Omkar Bhave

Manager, Industry Relations

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Omkar Bhave

Manager, Industry Relations

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.702.6365
E: obhave@uchicago.edu

Omkar Bhave serves as manager of industry relations for the Polsky Center, where he works to develop, enable, and grow strategic partnerships with the private sector.

Omkar has a strong background in business development, product commercialization, corporate engagement, and project management. Omkar works with UChicago faculty, students, staff, and entrepreneurs to identify the highest value industry partners and structure mutually-beneficial collaboration models and research partnerships.

Prior to joining the University of Chicago, Omkar managed a significant portion of chemicals revenue for FutureFuel Chemical Company and guided the company to several new business development opportunities. He has experience with negotiating new business agreements and patent licensing agreements, building business cases for new product portfolios, and developing cost estimates. He has worked as a process engineer at Pryor Chemical Company. He has also held research positions at the University of Arkansas where he authored papers in the biotechnology and chemicals space and presented at international scientific conferences.

Omkar holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from The University of Arkansas. His hobbies include fishing, playing guitar, and scuba diving.

Brittany Butler, PhD

Brittany Butler, PhD

Senior Manager, Business Development and Licensing

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Brittany Butler, PhD

Senior Manager, Business Development and Licensing

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
E: bbutler6@uchicago.edu

Brittany Butler, PhD, is senior manager of business development and licensing at the Polsky Center. Brittany works directly with University researchers to evaluate, protect, market, and license technologies in the life sciences.

Prior to joining the University of Chicago, Brittany was a Patent Agent at McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP, an intellectual property boutique law firm in downtown Chicago. She received a dual Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and Chemistry from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In 2015 she received her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Florida where she published three first-author papers. She later obtained a MS in Patent Law from the University of Notre Dame where she also interned in their Technology Transfer Office. Brittany is a STEM volunteer with iBio Institute’s Stellar Girls program. She enjoys cooking and traveling.

Benjamin Cox, PHD

Benjamin Cox, PHD

Associate Manager, Technology Development and Intellectual Property

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Benjamin Cox, PHD

Associate Manager, Technology Development and Intellectual Property

6054 S Drexel Ave, Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773-834-3211
M: 608-469-4846
E: blcox@uchicago.edu

Ben Cox, PhD, is an associate manager of technology development and intellectual property at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He manages a diverse intellectual property portfolio consisting of inventions related to physics, medical imaging, and devices. He also serves as a resource to faculty, assisting them with invention disclosures and the patenting process.

Prior to joining Polsky, Ben was a postdoctoral fellow in the Medical Engineering Group at the Morgridge Institute for Research in Madison, WI, working on novel medical device development with campus area clinicians. During his postdoctoral fellowship, he also served as an associate lecturer in the Biomedical Engineering Department at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, teaching undergraduate design courses. He also volunteered on the board of directors for WiSolve Consulting Group, a non-profit business consulting group that trains STEM grad students in business consulting and entrepreneurship, serving a term as their director of operations.

Ben earned his PhD in medical physics from the University of Wisconsin, leveraging his engineering background to design and fabricate hardware for a variety of medical imaging applications. Before graduate school, he helped found a fabrication facility at the Morgridge Institute in Madison as a staff engineer. Additionally, he is an inventor of a novel nuclear medicine imaging phantom and co-founded a startup company to commercialize it. In his spare time, he enjoys learning how to cook new things and spending time with family and friends.

Anna Dembo, PHD

Anna Dembo, PHD

Associate Manager, Intellectual Property and Technology Development

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Anna Dembo, PHD

Associate Manager, Intellectual Property and Technology Development

6055 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773-834-8752
E: adembo@uchicago.edu

Anna Dembo, PhD, serves as an associate manager, intellectual property and technology development, at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She manages patent filings and prosecution for a diverse portfolio, including cancer diagnostics and therapeutics. Anna also participates in faculty outreach efforts and in assessing new technologies from intellectual property and commercial potential perspectives.

Prior to joining Polsky, Anna was a postdoctoral scholar in the laboratory of Dr. Geoffrey L. Greene, chair of the Ben May Department for Cancer Research at the University of Chicago. She also received her doctorate degree at the University of Chicago from the Committee on Cancer Biology. Anna’s research focused on preventing outgrowth of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.

In her spare time, Anna enjoys traveling, cooking, and listening to podcasts.

Mike Hinton, PhD

Mike Hinton, PhD

Manager, Market Intelligence

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Mike Hinton, PhD

Manager, Market Intelligence

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773-834-9151
M: 815-757-0651
E: mhinton@uchicago.edu

Mike Hinton, PhD, serves as a manager, market intelligence, at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Mike’s responsibilities include sourcing industry partners for the commercialization of a diverse portfolio of University intellectual property. He also identifies and monitors market trends and supports optimization of strategies for introducing technologies into the competitive environment.

Mike holds a PhD in microbiology and immunology from Virginia Commonwealth University and conducted research on the hepatotoxic effects of anti-HIV therapeutics under a National Institute of Health fellowship. Prior to joining Polsky, Mike served on the board of directors of Colonial Scientific, a laboratory and medical supplier primarily serving the northeast region.  He also worked as a chemist for Chemtool Incorporated providing technically oriented project management and sales support.  He also volunteered as a technical consultant with the Chicago Inventors Organization working with early stage medical device companies addressing patentability and marketability of inventions.

In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with family, live music shows, and outdoor recreational activities.

Luke Hwang, PHD

Luke Hwang, PHD

Associate Manager, Intellectual Property and Technology Development

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Luke Hwang, PHD

Associate Manager, Intellectual Property and Technology Development

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.834.1270
M: 201.787.9912
E: hhwang04@uchicago.edu

Luke Hwang, PhD, is an associate manager, Intellectual Property and Technology Development, at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He manages a diverse intellectual property portfolio of chemistry related inventions, mostly arising from the Physical Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. He also assists the faculty and researchers to bring their innovative work to the market via invention disclosures and patents.

Prior to joining Polsky, Luke was a postdoctoral researcher and graduate student in experimental physical chemistry working on fundamental protein-lipid interactions under Provost and Professor Ka Yee C. Lee in the chemistry department at the University of Chicago. He elucidated the biophysical workings of a key protein implicated in Parkinson’s disease, using synchrotron X-ray scattering as a primary tool. While completing his Ph.D., he served on the advisory board of Center for Identity + Inclusion where he helped first-generation, low-income, and immigrant students to better succeed at the University.

He volunteers as an active advocate for vulnerable immigrant communities across Chicago and is currently on the board of directors of Hana Center, a Korean American community organization dedicated to advancing immigrant rights and providing social services to those in need. In his spare time, he enjoys outdoor running and spending time with his wife.

Steve Lehmann, MBA

Steve Lehmann, MBA

Senior Associate Director, George Shultz Innovation Fund

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Steve Lehmann, MBA

Senior Associate Director, George Shultz Innovation Fund

1452 E. 53rd Street, 2nd floor 
Chicago, IL 60615
O: 773.834.7086
E: slehmann@uchicago.edu

Steve Lehmann is the Senior Associate Director of the George Shultz Innovation Fund, an early stage fund dedicated to the commercialization of research and technology generated at the University.  He is also active in a variety of strategic initiatives across the Polsky Center.

Steve previously served as an Associate for Ocean Tomo’s Innovation Management practice, where he advised companies on how to invest in, develop, and commercialize technologies and intellectual property.  Prior to Ocean Tomo, he worked on a variety of new ventures in the technology, social enterprise, and international development sectors. His experiences range from leading product development for a Silicon Valley FinTech startup, to launching his own social venture, Threadies, that helps refugee children cope with the trauma of displacement.

Steve holds an MBA from Notre Dame and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Valparaiso University, where he was also a Scholar in the Humanities.

Shyama Majumdar, PhD, MBA

Shyama Majumdar, PhD, MBA

Science Ventures Lead

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Shyama Majumdar, PhD, MBA

Science Ventures Lead

5113 S. Harper Ave., Suite 2C
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.702.8696
E: shyama@uchicago.edu

Shyama Majumdar, PhD, MBA, is part of the Science Ventures group within Polsky Science and Technology where she serves as a science ventures lead. Shyama works with faculty, staff and students to facilitate the creation of science and technology-based ventures developed by innovators at the University. While she has a focus on life sciences due to her scientific background, she is passionate about technology startups in general.

Prior to joining the Polsky Center, Shyama was a research assistant professor at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) where she conducted Prostate cancer research. While at UIC she also worked as program coordinator at IllinoisVENTURES where she oversaw the running of the proof-of-concept fund that funds early stage technologies developed at the university. Prior to this Shyama worked as a consulting program manager at EnterpriseWorks where she helped develop and manage their accelerator program. 

Shyama earned a PhD and an MBA from the University of Delaware and conducted her postdoctoral research cancer biology at Harvard Medical School and University of Illinois at Chicago. 

Originally from New Delhi, India, Shyama now lives in the West Loop with her husband (MBA ’18) and two daughters. In her free time she enjoys cooking, reading, and binge watching TV series on Netflix. 

Dane Smith

Dane Smith

Senior Associate Director of Computer Science Business Development & Licensing Technology

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Dane Smith

Senior Associate Director of Computer Science Business Development & Licensing Technology

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.834.3208
M: 858.997.8716
E: danesmith@uchicago.edu

Dane Smith serves as a technology commercialization manager for computer science business development and licensing technology at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Dane works with faculty in computer science and AI to help transform their ideas and discoveries into patents, licenses, products, services, and startup ventures. He helps lead intellectual portfolio patenting, licensing, strategic partner development, and technology commercialization activities.

Prior to joining Polsky, Dane spent over thirty years managing global field operations for early stage companies and Fortune 100 enterprises, penetrating new markets, commercializing research, implementing technologies, helping to start new companies, and fundraising. Most recently he served as a strategic advisor to the CEO and   chief academic officer for the Winward Academy, a research-based, student-centered learning platform for high school students to build english, math, and reading skills. Dane’s nonprofit experiences include fundraising, creation, production, marketing, and global distribution for Arbella Studios, a Los Angeles-based documentary film studio.

Dane earned a bachelor’s degree from the Scripps College of Communications at Ohio University and is presently pursuing his doctoral degree from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, where he is a Doctor of Business Administration Nonprofit Management Fellow. In his spare time, Dane enjoys his board and fundraising advisory roles with BoomCloud 360, VRx Medical, Copernicus Microbeam Radiation Therapy, Teens Rise Foundation, and the Emanuel Trust. He and his wife, Nicole, always look forward to global travel, yoga, skiing, tennis, pickleball, and periodically, golf.

Han Sun, PhD

Han Sun, PhD

Associate Oncology Manager

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Han Sun, PhD

Associate Oncology Manager

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
E: hansun@uchicago.edu

 

Han Sun, PhD, serves as the associate oncology manager at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Han works closely with University of Chicago researchers and cancer research community to evaluate, develop, and market oncology-related discoveries and match new discoveries to unmet needs.

Han earned a PhD in cellular and molecular medicine from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. While at JHU, she started her cancer research career and contributed to the successful development of a therapeutic antibody that was licensed to a company. Han completed her post-doctoral training at City of Hope National Medical Center, gaining more experience in cancer immunotherapy research. 

In her spare time, Han enjoys reading and cooking – really spicy food. 

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