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.

University Leadership

Juan de Pablo

Juan de Pablo

Liew Family Professor in Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago Vice President for National Laboratories, Science Strategy, Innovation, and Global Initiatives Senior Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory

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Juan de Pablo

Liew Family Professor in Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago Vice President for National Laboratories, Science Strategy, Innovation, and Global Initiatives Senior Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory

Edward H. Levi Hall, Suite 601
5801 S. Ellis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.702.1383
E: depablo@uchicago.edu 

Executive Assistant:
Cynthia Sullivan
O: 773.702.9476
E: sullcind@uchicago.edu

As the Vice President for National Laboratories, Science Strategy, Innovation, and Global Initiatives, Juan de Pablo helps drive and support the expanding reach of the University’s science, technology, and innovation efforts, along with their connection to policy and industry. He identifies and shapes emerging strategic scientific and technological initiatives and provides oversight of entrepreneurship and innovation activities at the University’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He also works with faculty, deans, and administrators to build global academic partnerships and international research collaborations while overseeing the University’s international centers.

He also provides leadership for the University’s stewardship of two U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories — Argonne and Fermilab— as institutions to advance science and technology in support of the nation’s interest. De Pablo collaborates with other leaders in research and innovation to build programs and links between and among the national laboratories and the University. Working with University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer, he plays an essential role in the University’s partnership with the Department of Energy.

Juan de Pablo’s research focuses on polymers, biological macromolecules, and liquid crystals, a diverse class of materials widely used in many fields of engineering. He is a leader in developing molecular models, computer simulations of complex processes over wide ranges of length and time scales, and artificial-intelligence enhanced methods to design advanced materials systems. He has co-authored over 600 papers, a textbook, and over 20 patents.

Juan de Pablo has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He conducted postdoctoral research at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. de Pablo was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2016 for “design of macromolecular products and processes via scientific computation.” He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Physical Society, and is a foreign corresponding member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences.

Madhav Rajan

Madhav Rajan

Dean, University of Chicago Booth School of Business; George Pratt Shultz Professor of Accounting

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Madhav Rajan

Dean, University of Chicago Booth School of Business; George Pratt Shultz Professor of Accounting

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.702.1680
E: madhav.rajan@chicagobooth.edu

Executive Assistant:
Holly Stauffer
O: 773.702.6680
E: holly.stauffer@chicagobooth.edu

Madhav Rajan is Dean of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and George Pratt Shultz Professor of Accounting. His primary area of research interest is the economics-based analysis of management accounting issues, especially as they relate to the choice of internal control and performance systems in firms. He has carried out analytical, empirical, and field-based research on the role of information in incentive contracting, the value of nonfinancial and subjective performance measures, and the structural properties and usefulness of common financial ratios.

Before joining Booth, Rajan spent 16 years on the faculty of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business where he was the Robert K. Jaedicke Professor of Accounting, with a courtesy appointment in the Law School. He served as senior associate dean for academic affairs from 2010-2016, overseeing the school’s MBA program. From 2002-2010, he was area coordinator for the accounting faculty group. Previously, he served on the faculty at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, from 1990-2001.

While at Stanford, Rajan received the Robert T. Davis Award for Lifetime Achievement and Service (2017), and the Notable Contribution to Management Accounting Literature Award (2004). He also was the recipient of the David W. Hauck Award for Outstanding Teaching at Wharton (2000) and the Alexander Henderson Award for Excellence in Economic Theory (1990).

Rajan has served as editor of The Accounting Review, as well as Associate Editor for both the Accounting and Operations areas for Management Science. He has twice been a plenary speaker at the AAA Management Accounting Conference. He is coauthor of Cost Accounting: A Managerial Emphasis, whose 16th edition was published by Pearson Prentice Hall in January 2017. He is also coauthor of Managerial Accounting, whose first edition was published by Pearson in January 2013.

He is a Director of Cavium, Inc. and iShares, Inc. and a Trustee of the iShares Trust.

Rajan received his Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the University of Madras, India, and an MS in Accounting, an MS in Industrial Administration, and a PhD in Accounting from Carnegie Mellon University.

Polsky Executive Leadership

Jay Schrankler

Jay Schrankler

Associate Vice President and Head of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

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Jay Schrankler

Associate Vice President and Head of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.702.0404
E: jay3@uchicago.edu

Executive Assistant:
Camille Andres
O: 773.702.0926
E: candres@uchicago.edu

Jay Schrankler is the associate vice president and head of the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In this role, he leads all operations of the Polsky Center and works closely with both University leadership and external partners to advance the University’s innovation and partnership strategy related to entrepreneurship and technology commercialization.

Prior to joining Polsky, Jay was the associate vice president for the Office for Technology Commercialization at the University of Minnesota, where he transformed the organization into a top-rated university technology transfer office. Under his leadership, the office generated more than $560 million in revenue over 10 years, drove steady increases in licensing activity and industry-sponsored research, and supported the creation of 140 research-based spinouts resulting in 9 exits. He also served as the special assistant to the vice president for research where he worked on a variety of projects that drew upon his expertise in moving ideas and technologies to the market.

Before that, Jay served in various senior executive and global leadership positions at Honeywell International Inc., spanning the company’s space systems, aerospace, and environmental controls divisions. During his tenure at the Fortune 100 company, he was named a Honeywell Top 33 Executive, and served as a key member on the corporate strategy team.

Jay earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of Wisconsin. He has also attended the Harvard Executive Development Program.

With his deep expertise in technology development, electrical engineering, computer science, aerospace, and semiconductors, Jay has been a featured speaker at a variety of industry conferences and events held across the globe. He has also delivered commercialization training to the US Air Force Research Laboratory, the US State Department, the government in Poland, the government of Saudi Arabia, and several universities in Japan, Spain, US, and Norway.

Jay is an active angel investor and serves as a board member and advisor to several startups in the US. He is an aviation enthusiast, has built his own aircraft, and enjoys flying in his spare time.

Steve Kaplan

Steve Kaplan

Neubauer Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance; Kessenich E.P. Faculty Director, Polsky Center

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Steve Kaplan

Neubauer Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance; Kessenich E.P. Faculty Director, Polsky Center

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.702.4513
E: steven.kaplan@uchicago.edu

Steven Neil Kaplan is the Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Kessenich E.P. Faculty Director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Steve cofounded the Polsky Center and the entrepreneurship program at Chicago Booth. He also started the New Venture Challenge (NVC), which is recognized as one of the top accelerator programs in the nation.

He teaches advanced MBA and executive courses in entrepreneurial finance and private equity, corporate finance, corporate governance, and wealth management. BusinessWeek named him one of the top 12 business school teachers in the country. Steve conducts research on issues in private equity, venture capital, entrepreneurial finance, corporate governance and corporate finance. He has published papers in a number of academic and business journals. Kaplan is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and an associate editor of the Journal of Financial Economics.

He is the co-creator of the Kaplan-Schoar PME (Public Market Equivalent) private equity benchmarking approach. A Fortune Magazine article referred to him as “probably the foremost private equity scholar in the galaxy.”

Full Bio

Dan Sachs

Dan Sachs

Executive Director, Education and Programs

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Dan Sachs

Executive Director, Education and Programs

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
E: dan.sachs@chicagobooth.edu 

Dan Sachs serves as the executive director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In this role, he oversees the education and programming functions for the Polsky Center, leading a team in developing co-curricular programs and experiential learning opportunities for students, alumni, faculty, and community entrepreneurs. He is also responsible for developing and nurturing relationships with key stakeholders across UChicago and in the business community.

As a seasoned business executive and entrepreneur in the hospitality industry, Dan has strong ties to Chicago. He recently served as president of Meerkat Advisory, an A-list hospitality and leadership development advisory group, and was a professor of management and entrepreneurship at DePaul University. Before that, he was the founder and owner of BIN 36 Restaurant Group and grew the company’s wine brand domestically as well as to international acclaim. With 25 years of operating experience in the restaurant and service industry, Dan has become a trusted expert for private equity firms, large hotel corporations, and owners of live entertainment venues. He published the book The Million Dollar Greeting, which provides insights on how to apply hospitality industry best practices to strengthen company profit, customer retention, and employee morale.

Dan earned a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University, a doctorate in business administration specializing in organizational behavior from DePaul University, and a grand diplôme from École de Cuisine La Varenne.

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.

James Licklider

James Licklider

Executive Director of Operations and Chief of Staff

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James Licklider

Executive Director of Operations and Chief of Staff

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.834.5641
E: jlicklider@uchicago.edu

Executive Assistant:
Camille Andres
O: 773.702.0926
E: candres@uchicago.edu

James Licklider serves as the executive director of operations and chief of staff for the Polsky Center. In this role, he oversees finance, human resources, IT, facilities and space needs, and strategic planning.

Prior to Polsky, James spent over seven years at UChicago’s Institute for Mind and Biology as its administrative director. He managed the post-award operation for the Florida State University College of Medicine and guided its faculty practice plan as chief financial officer. James also held roles in central post-award administration at FSU, pre-award and department administration at DePaul University, and executive management in several Chicago nonprofits.

James earned an MS in accountancy, MS in public services management, and a BA in political science at DePaul University. He is a Certified Research Administrator and a former participant in the Executive Program for Emerging Leaders (EPEL) at Chicago Booth.

Chuck Vallurupalli, MBA ’05

Chuck Vallurupalli, MBA ’05

Senior Director, Duality

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Chuck Vallurupalli, MBA ’05

Senior Director, Duality

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
E: chuck.vallurupalli@chicagobooth.edu

Chuck Vallurupalli, MBA ’05, is the inaugural senior director of Duality, the nation’s first quantum startup accelerator, which is led by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE), along with founding partners, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Argonne National Laboratory, and P33. In this role, he leads all aspects of Duality by setting the accelerator’s strategic vision, overseeing all program operations, providing critical venture support resources to quantum startup companies, and cultivating relationships with key partners, mentors, venture capitalists, corporations, and other stakeholders. He will also join the Polsky Center’s executive leadership team.

Chuck is a seasoned business executive, engineer, and entrepreneur who has founded, led, and contributed to the success of numerous early-stage, growth, and public companies. He has worked with over 200 startups and several entrepreneurs throughout his career, providing them with deep mentorship and guidance to achieve critical milestones. His vast industry experience includes serving consumers and enterprises in the automotive, aerospace, education, general machinery, health, internet, technology, and wellness sectors.

Since 2018, Chuck has served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at the Polsky Center, where he mentored several startups participating in Chicago Booth’s nationally-ranked Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, George Shultz Innovation Fund, and incubating at the Polsky Exchange. He also recently spearheaded the Polsky Center’s DeepTechU venture conference, which brought together 48 deep tech companies, 27 partners, and participants from more than 30 countries. In addition to coaching startups at the Polsky Center, Chuck is active in Chicago’s entrepreneurial tech community, serving as a mentor at 1871 and MATTER.

Earlier in his career, he held senior positions at MSC Software, which was acquired by Symphony Technology Group, a private equity firm, in 2009 for $360 million, and Mechanical Dynamics, Inc., a software company that had a successful IPO (NASDAQ: MDII) in 1996 and was eventually sold to MSC Software (NYSE: MNS) in 2002 for $120 million.

He received his MBA from Chicago Booth, a master’s of science in mechanical engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology, and a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Nagarjuna University in India.

Micheline Pergande

Micheline Pergande

Director, Marketing and Communications

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Micheline Pergande

Director, Marketing and Communications

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.702.7732
E: micheline@uchicago.edu

Micheline Pergande is a results-driven marketing executive with a strong track record of helping companies—spanning Fortune 500, startup, CPG, food and beverage, retail, e-commerce, and higher education—create breakout brands and connect the dots to achieve the impossible. She leads the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation marketing and communications function and oversees a team of marketing professionals supporting all units across Polsky. Micheline serves on the University of Chicago’s Key Communicators group and works closely with senior leadership on various strategic marketing initiatives. As Director of Marketing and Communications for the Polsky Center, she focuses on defining the Polsky brand and delivering impactful communications and campaigns to engage all of Polsky’s key stakeholders.

Prior to joining the Polsky Center, Micheline worked in brand management at Unilever Food Solutions supporting category performance in North America for Hellmann’s, Best Foods, Country Crock, Promise, Becel, and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Before that, Micheline was the Senior Manager of E-Commerce Strategy and digital marketing for Chicago-based Argo Tea where she initiated the company’s first-ever gift box packaging concept, facilitated industry-wide recognition as Nation’s Restaurant News Top 50 “2013 Breakout Brands”, managed the company’s social media engagement strategy across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Yelp, and completely overhauled the company’s e-commerce website in time for the 2012 holiday shopping season. Before her rewarding stint at Argo Tea, Micheline reported into the CEO/President and was named Director of Product Marketing for Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi Nerve Center, the R&D hub responsible for developing next generation advertising solutions. She serves on the global leadership team during the time when the advertising world embarked upon its digital transformation as social media, programmatic media buying, and audience targeting solutions emerged and needed to quickly become new core competencies for agencies. Before becoming a seasoned marketer, Micheline gained technical skills as a web developer in the Bay Area, where she was born and raised. She developed database-driven web applications in PHP and MySQL for her alma mater, Saint Mary’s College of California, before moving out to Chicago in 2006 to attend graduate school.

Micheline earned a B.A. with honors in Communication from Saint Mary’s College of California, an M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications with a specialization in Direct, Database and E-Commerce marketing from Northwestern University’s Medill School, and an MBA with concentrations in Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and International Business from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She was awarded the Walter Dill Scott Award from Medill faculty. She also earned a Professional Certificate in Web Design from the University of California at Berkeley in 2001.

As a proud daughter of an entrepreneurial family, Micheline is passionate about the Polsky Center’s role in supporting students, faculty, alumni and community entrepreneurs with their entrepreneurial ambitions.  Micheline and her husband, Shaun, a Chicago Booth ’13 graduate, reside in Chicago with their daughter.

Camille Andres

Camille Andres

Executive Assistant to the Associate Vice President and Head of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

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Camille Andres

Executive Assistant to the Associate Vice President and Head of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.702.0926
E: candres@uchicago.edu

Camille Andres serves as the executive assistant to the associate vice president and head of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She is responsible for support functions as well as special projects for the AVP and director of operations and chief of staff.

Prior to joining Polsky, Camille served as senior assistant to the associate dean, Psychology Department at Pepperdine University for 11 years. She supported the associate dean and also handled significant graduate program responsibilities, such as adjunct faculty hires, course schedules, payroll, and new student orientations. Before working at Pepperdine, Camille also served as administrative coordinator at another graduate school and has worked in various forms of healthcare. She began her career at Crain’s Communications in Chicago.

Camille earned a bachelor of arts in communications from Loyola University of Chicago.

Camille loves to travel both domestically and internationally, and in her spare time she enjoys working out, watching sports, and spending time with her family.

Education and Programs

Dan Sachs

Dan Sachs

Executive Director, Education and Programs

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Dan Sachs

Executive Director, Education and Programs

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
E: dan.sachs@chicagobooth.edu 

Dan Sachs serves as the executive director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In this role, he oversees the education and programming functions for the Polsky Center, leading a team in developing co-curricular programs and experiential learning opportunities for students, alumni, faculty, and community entrepreneurs. He is also responsible for developing and nurturing relationships with key stakeholders across UChicago and in the business community.

As a seasoned business executive and entrepreneur in the hospitality industry, Dan has strong ties to Chicago. He recently served as president of Meerkat Advisory, an A-list hospitality and leadership development advisory group, and was a professor of management and entrepreneurship at DePaul University. Before that, he was the founder and owner of BIN 36 Restaurant Group and grew the company’s wine brand domestically as well as to international acclaim. With 25 years of operating experience in the restaurant and service industry, Dan has become a trusted expert for private equity firms, large hotel corporations, and owners of live entertainment venues. He published the book The Million Dollar Greeting, which provides insights on how to apply hospitality industry best practices to strengthen company profit, customer retention, and employee morale.

Dan earned a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University, a doctorate in business administration specializing in organizational behavior from DePaul University, and a grand diplôme from École de Cuisine La Varenne.

Amber Bradley, Ed.D., PPS

Amber Bradley, Ed.D., PPS

Associate Director, New Venture Challenge

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Amber Bradley, Ed.D., PPS

Associate Director, New Venture Challenge

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
E: amber.bradley@chicagobooth.edu

Amber Bradley, Ed.D., PPS, serves as the associate director, New Venture Challenge (NVC) at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She oversees and grows the NVC and its tracks, expanding the nationally recognized program and the resources available to University of Chicago entrepreneurs.

Amber has come to Chicago from Los Angeles, where she spent the past nine years working at the University of Southern California. Most recently, she held two positions: as assistant director of inclusion, diversity, equity, and access (IDEA) initiatives and as senior academic advisor at USC’s Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for the Arts, Technology and Business of Innovation. In this role, she supported the recruitment and admission initiatives of the Academy, including communication, outreach, interviews, and group presentations, and advised on the school’s recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups at the student, faculty, and staff levels.

Amber is a native of Southern California. She holds a doctorate in education with an emphasis in higher education administration, as well as a master of education in educational counseling and a Pupil Personnel Services Credential in school counseling from the USC Rossier School of Education. She also earned a bachelor of arts in psychology from California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) and an associate of arts in liberal arts from Santa Monica College.

Outside of work, Amber loves the beach, dancing, all things Disney, and is a huge foodie. She is looking forward to exploring the food scene in Chicago and welcomes any recommendations!

Melissa Byrn

Melissa Byrn

Director, Innovation Programs

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Melissa Byrn

Director, Innovation Programs

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.702.9108
E: melissa.byrn@chicagobooth.edu 

Melissa oversees the Polsky Center’s cross-campus entrepreneurship initiatives—including the NSF-funded I-Corps Program and the Collaboratorium—which cater to diverse audiences of graduate students, post-docs, undergraduates, and faculty. Melissa works on aligning Polsky’s current portfolio of educational offerings to scientific and technical audiences and identifying areas for strategic growth.

Melissa spent 10 years working in clinical research operations and regulatory compliance at the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania, most recently as a director in the UChicago Biological Sciences Division’s Office of Clinical Research. In these roles, she was responsible for developing and delivering educational content to faculty and staff, collaborating with clinical departments and the medical center to identify and implement solutions to complex problems, and translating regulatory requirements into local policy and procedure.

In addition to her work in clinical research, Melissa is also the founder and CEO of Foresee Analytica, and participated in the Polsky I-Corps, Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, and George Shultz Innovation Fund. FORESEEaBILL, the company’s initial product, is a platform technology that provides life sciences organizations with decision support to identify the appropriate payer for every test, procedure, and service performed during a clinical trial.

Melissa holds a BA from DePauw University, a Master of Biomedical Ethics and Health Policy from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics from the UChicago Graham School. Her hobbies include running, bicycling, discovering good podcasts, and spending time with her family.

Paul Cavalieri

Paul Cavalieri

Associate Director, Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition

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Paul Cavalieri

Associate Director, Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
E: paul.cavalieri@chicagobooth.edu

Paul Cavalieri serves as the Associate director, entrepreneurship through acquisition at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Paul manages and builds the educational and experiential offerings in Polsky’s ETA portfolio, expands the network of ETA alumni and practitioners, and supports students as they plan for careers in ETA.

Prior to joining Polsky, Paul gained expertise managing a medium-size enterprise at Race Pace Bicycles, a chain of seven bicycle shops in Maryland. Along with running the day to day operations, Paul focused on developing the company’s human resources system and bringing customer relationship management approaches to the marketing communications strategy. Before Race Pace, Paul worked as a third grade teacher at a public elementary school in Brooklyn, NY.

Paul earned an MBA from the University of Colorado, a master of science in education from Long Island University, and a bachelor of arts in communications and government from American University. In his spare time, Paul enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter and riding mountain bikes (slowly), playing drums (loudly), and learning Italian (parla un poco).

 

Waverly Deutsch

Waverly Deutsch

Director, UChicago Global Entrepreneurs Network

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Waverly Deutsch

Director, UChicago Global Entrepreneurs Network

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.834.0484
E: wdeutsch@chicagobooth.edu

Waverly Deutsch teaches the Global New Venture Challenge class for Chicago Booth’s Executive MBA program. She has been a full-time coach for the annual New Venture Challenge since 2002. Waverly Deutsch created Building the New Venture, a unique course on entrepreneurial execution, and taught it for 15 years. In 2004, she was awarded the USASBE Innovative Teaching Pedagogy for the YourCo simulation that parallels the class and allows students to develop and run a mock startup through all phases of early operation. In 2012, she became one of the faculty coaches for the companies in the Polsky Center Summer Accelerator Program. From 2006 to 2009, in conjunction with the University of Chicago’s Collegiate Scholars Program, Waverly pioneered and taught an intensive summer seminar entitled Elements of Entrepreneurship in which promising high school students from the Chicago Public School Systems turned an idea into a business plan in two weeks. In 2015, Waverly was honored with the Phoenix Faculty award for her contributions to the Booth student community beyond the classroom.

In her role as Director of the University of Chicago Global Entrepreneurs Network (GEN), Waverly works to foster a global community that provides resources and connects alumni and student entrepreneurs with the investor community.

Waverly’s research focuses on the execution issues entrepreneurs face as they grow their businesses, especially marketing, sales, operations and team building and is featured quarterly in the Chicago Booth Review.

Megan Fox

Megan Fox

Associate Director, Svider Private Equity Program

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Megan Fox

Associate Director, Svider Private Equity Program

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.702.5926
E: megan.fox@chicagobooth.edu

Megan manages a suite of programming and events within our Svider Private Equity Program, including innovative experiential programs such as the Private Equity and Venture Capital Lab, which offers a firsthand look at private equity through an internship and academic course; the Sterling Partners Investment Thesis Challenge, which provides investment thesis training with mentors at private equity firms; the Private Equity Case Challenge, a global, intercollegiate case competition held in partnership with Oxford University; and networking opportunities with industry professionals at our annual Private Equity Conference. In addition, Megan supports the management of the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, a premier startup launch program, recognized as a top-ranked accelerator program in the nation.

Kyla Hill

Kyla Hill

Assistant Director, Operations

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Kyla Hill

Assistant Director, Operations

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.834.1522
E: kyla.hill@chicagobooth.edu

Kyla Hill is the first point of contact for inquiries about the Polsky Center and its work at is Harper Center location. Kyla works on Polsky Center operations, accounting and budgeting, vendor relationships, and stewardship.

Kyla was previously an executive administrative assistant at Village Leadership Academy, where she held a variety of responsibilities, interacting daily with students, parents, teachers, community members, and donors. Previously, while a student at the University of Missouri, she worked in the Department of Residential Life and Career Center. In these roles, she advised students, planned workshops, and presented on career-related topics. Kyla holds a BS in Business Administration from the University of Missouri.

Gorana Kolar

Gorana Kolar

Senior Associate Director

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Gorana Kolar

Senior Associate Director

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.702.4073
E: gkolar@uchicago.edu

Gorana Kolar serves as the senior associate director at University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She oversees alumni initiatives – including the Alumni New Venture Challenge, the Alumni Entrepreneurs Growth Forum, Polsky Founders’ Fund Fellowship, and Startup Summer. Gorana also works with students to support and enable their venture creation and growth efforts. Gorana is a mentor to teams in the Polsky Accelerator program, as well as the Polsky Center I-Corps Site program. She has served as a business mentor for one national NSF I-Corps team from the University of Chicago.  

Prior to joining Polsky, Gorana was a manager, business development of licensing, at Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation (CTTEC). There she worked with faculty and graduate students on intellectual property protection, license negotiation, and startup creation. 

Gorana holds a BA, MS, and MBA from Carnegie Mellon University. 

In addition to spending time with her family, Gorana enjoys traveling, running, hiking, yoga, and book club. 

Kim Kieras

Kim Kieras

Associate Director, The Compass Accelerator

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Kim Kieras

Associate Director, The Compass Accelerator

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
E: Kim.Kieras@chicagobooth.edu

Kim Kieras serves as the associate director for the Compass accelerator and science programs. In this role, Kim oversees the programming, education, and operations of the Compass deep tech accelerator. Kim’s work focuses on connecting the Chicago Booth community to research-based science and technology ventures launching out of the University of Chicago. In addition to her role with the Compass accelerator, Kim supports educational and experiential programs for faculty, students, and alumni interested in science and technology entrepreneurship.

Prior to joining Polsky, Kim worked at Northwestern University McCormick School of Engineering where she supervised a portfolio of six professional STEM master’s programs overseeing all operations and logistics. Kim’s oversight included program policies and procedures, budget maintenance, staffing, ensuring student satisfaction, and collectively creating and implementing best practices. In her previous role at McCormick, she assisted in the launch of a new program, the Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence, where she served as lead administrator. Kim worked on the design and implementation of the program, oversaw admission and student recruitment, advising, and worked closely with faculty and other university constituents. Through corporate outreach and engagement efforts, Kim managed the program’s professional speaker series where she sourced industry partners and solicited real-world AI use cases for practicum and Capstone projects where she facilitated student and team matches. Kim also organized and facilitated events that included training, demonstrations, and hackathons.

Kim earned a master of science in learning and organizational change from Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy, and a bachelor of science in business administration from Argosy University.

Mary Kay Loncar

Mary Kay Loncar

Associate Director, Operations

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Mary Kay Loncar

Associate Director, Operations

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.834.4526
E: mloncar@uchicago.edu

Mary Kay Loncar serves as the associate director at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Mary Kay manages the day-to-day operations of the Polsky Center from budget reporting, gift, sponsorship and investment processing, contracts, and logistics. She maintains internal relationships with University of Chicago departments and external partners and considers herself a generalist committed to making sure the students the Center serves and her colleagues have the information and resources they need to do their job. 

Prior to joining Polsky, Mary Kay was an assistant director of marketing at UChicago Medicine, where she did similar work. Having spent time on the other side of the University, she was able to transfer her institutional knowledge to her current role and maintains relationships with former colleagues and contacts across campus. Prior to working the University of Chicago, she worked in advertising, marketing, and corporate communications/production. 

Mary Kay earned a B.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas.  

Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, in her spare time Mary Kay is interested in travel and spending time with family and friends. She is also working on becoming a much better cook with the support of her ‘foodie’ colleagues. 

Nora Mansfield

Nora Mansfield

Associate Director, VC Programs and Startup Engagement

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Nora Mansfield

Associate Director, VC Programs and Startup Engagement

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.834.9767
E: nora.mansfield@chicagobooth.edu

Nora Mansfield serves as the associate director of VC programs and startup engagement at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She manages the Polsky Center’s portfolio of venture capital programing—including the VCIC, PE/VC Lab, San Francisco Initiative, and SeedCon. In addition, she is responsible for initiatives to engage and track startups as they move between and graduate from Polsky Center programs. In this “startup engagement” role, she provides support to startups, helping them identify needs, connecting them with Polsky Center resources, and serving as a consistent point of contact for them as they transition between and out of programs.

Prior to joining Polsky, Nora was on the marketing team of a buy-one, give-one brand based out of Los Angeles that provided school supplies to classrooms in need in the U.S.

Nora earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and studio art from Loyola Marymount University (LMU). While at LMU, Nora was actively involved in service and social justice organizations and worked for various social enterprises in the Los Angeles area.

Nora is driven by fostering connections to help both students and startups succeed. Nora enjoys all things related to food – exploring new restaurants, testing recipes, and striving to find the perfect balance of salt, fat, acid, and heat. When she’s not thinking about food, you can find her practicing yoga or creating art.

Erika Mercer

Erika Mercer

Director, Entrepreneurship Programs and the Svider Private Equity Program

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Erika Mercer

Director, Entrepreneurship Programs and the Svider Private Equity Program

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.834.1521
E: emercer@uchicago.edu

Erika Mercer serves as the director of entrepreneurship programs and the Svider Private Equity program at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In this role, she oversees several major areas of educational and experiential programming, including private equity, venture capital, and entrepreneurship through acquisition. She has been with the Polsky Center since 2010 and, over that time, has led the development and growth of numerous Polsky Center offerings for both student and alumni audiences. She manages the Polsky Center’s Private Equity Council, a 50-member advisory group to the Svider Private Equity Program. 

Prior to joining the Polsky Center, Erika worked in the international programming offices at the University of Chicago, Harvard University, and Brown University, where she managed, developed, and promoted study abroad programs worldwide, acted as the primary contact for students, faculty, and staff on site, and provided international training and advising to undergraduates. She served as a member of several international education organizations, including The Forum on Education Abroad and NAFSA: Association of International Educators; was published in Abroad View Magazine and the Bulletin of the American Research Center in Egypt; and presented at national conferences on the topic of cultural and citizen diplomacy. She also interned in the Academic Editorial Department at Oxford University Press, where she assisted editors with the review and preparation of manuscripts for production. 

Erika earned a BA, magna cum laude, from Middlebury College and an EdM from Harvard University. She has studied in Spain, Germany, and Egypt. 

Isra Omar

Isra Omar

Program Manager

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Isra Omar

Program Manager

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

Isra Omar manages the Polsky Small Business Growth program, which supports small business owners on the south and west side of Chicago to help them grow and scale their businesses through consulting work completed by top student talent.

Isra has a strong passion for helping small businesses and the local Chicago community. She is a volunteer for the Muslim American Leadership Alliance (MALA) where she manage the oral recording sessions of its storytellers in partnership with StoryCorps. In recognition of her hard work, Isra was named the first recipient of the Emerging Young Leader Award presented during the 2018 Annual MALA Gala. She previously worked for Studio Gang Architects. Isra is a graduate of DePaul University with a degree in accountancy and a minor in Arabic studies. 

 

Lucas Peralta

Lucas Peralta

Associate Director

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Lucas Peralta

Associate Director

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.702.8310
E: lucas.peralta@chicagobooth.edu
Virtual Office Hours

Lucas Peralta serves as associate director for college and cross-campus programs at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Lucas manages the College New Venture Challenge, the undergraduate track of the Edward L. Kaplan ’71 New Venture Challenge, a nationally-ranked accelerator program. He also manages the operations of the Polsky Center’s NSF-funded I-Corps site program. In addition, he runs the Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program, Polsky Center Quick Pitches, and various speaker and pitch events. 

Prior to joining Polsky, while earning his master’s degree, Lucas worked as a program assistant for Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research Strategic Data Project, an initiative that helps connect schools and education agencies to emerging leaders in data science, to improve student outcomes. 

Lucas earned a master’s degree in education from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of New Mexico. 

Lucas is interested in the intersection of economic opportunity and education. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, eating (obviously), and running. 

Katie Spoden

Katie Spoden

Assistant Director

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Katie Spoden

Assistant Director

1452 E. 53rd Street, 2nd floor 
Chicago, IL 60615
O: 773.795.0209
E: kspoden@uchicago.edu

As the Assistant Director at the Polsky Exchange, Katie is responsible for coordinating the membership program for the coworking space and planning Polsky Exchange events. She has previously managed events for the Field Museum in Chicago.

Katie holds a Masters in Leadership Studies from North Central College in Naperville with concentrations in Social Entrepreneurship and Professional Management, and a BS in Sociology from Bradley University in Peoria.

Kate Turvy

Kate Turvy

Associate Director, Entrepreneurship Programs and Engagement

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Kate Turvy

Associate Director, Entrepreneurship Programs and Engagement

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
E: Kate.Turvy@chicagobooth.edu

Kate Turvy serves as the associate director, entrepreneurship programs and engagement at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She manages a portfolio of entrepreneurship programs and events, including the Entrepreneur- and Investor-in-Residence programs, and works together with the education and programming team to drive student, alumni, and external engagement in Polsky’s programming.

Prior to joining Polsky, Kate worked at the Chicago Public Education Fund (The Fund), where she served on the Data & Policy team. In that role, she analyzed program and system wide school performance data, as well as broader education research that helped inform The Fund’s program and policy strategy to retain and support school leaders in all of Chicago’s 650 public schools. She helped facilitate several citywide working groups and committees, including the Education Transition Committee for Mayor Lori Lightfoot in 2019. Before joining The Fund, she served as a data manager at Akili Academy of New Orleans, where she supported overall school operations and analyzed student data to support teachers and school leaders. Earlier in her career, Kate played professional tennis and competed against players in tournaments across the globe.

Kate earned a BS in education and social policy from Northwestern University. In her spare time, Kate enjoys doing anything active outdoors, baking, and reading.

Ellen Zatkowski

Ellen Zatkowski

Assistant Director

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Ellen Zatkowski

Assistant Director

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
E: Ellen.Zatkowski@chicagobooth.edu

Ellen Zatkowski serves as assistant director at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She manages the operations for the NSF-funded I-Corps program and the Collaboratorium. Ellen also focuses on developing other programs to support the scientific community.

Prior to joining Polsky, Ellen managed the college success program for a Chicago non-profit serving low-income students. In this capacity, she supervised a team of AmeriCorps members and full-time staff who advised students as they navigated colleges and universities. Ellen got her start in higher education at Babson College where she worked in the undergraduate admissions office.

Ellen earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in history from Boston College.

Ellen is energized to share the power of entrepreneurial thinking with audiences who have not traditionally had access to entrepreneurship and innovation programs. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, exercising, and exploring Chicago’s neighborhood bookstores and restaurants.

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.

Eric Ginsburg, PhD

Eric Ginsburg, PhD

Senior Director, Intellectual Property and Technology Development

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Eric Ginsburg, PhD

Senior Director, Intellectual Property and Technology Development

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

Eric Ginsburg, PhD, serves as the senior director, intellectual property and technology development at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Eric’s team works with faculty and other researchers to move their discoveries and inventions towards the marketplace.

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

Principal, Intellectual Property and Technology Development

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Heather Bakalyar, PhD, MBA

Principal, 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 Principal of Intellectual Property and Technology Development at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.  Heather works 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 20 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. 

Christine Karslake, PhD, MBA ’95

Christine Karslake, PhD, MBA ’95

Managing Director, Polsky Science Ventures

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Christine Karslake, PhD, MBA ’95

Managing Director, Polsky Science Ventures

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.834.2893
M: 314.546.8375
E: ckarslake@uchicago.edu

Christine Karslake, PhD, MBA ’95, is the Managing Director of Polsky Science Ventures for the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago. In this role, she leads the formation and launch of new science and technology companies across all fields of research at the University of Chicago.

As a seasoned business leader and value creator, Christine brings more than 10 years of venture capital experience and has helped deliver more than $12 billion in incremental value for a variety of life science businesses, including startups and publicly-traded global companies. She has sourced and analyzed more than 3,000 business plans, conducted in depth due diligence on more than 100 deals, invested in approximately 20 companies, and has sat on several boards.

Her business development and M&A experience has made Christine an expert at identifying the most important factors that lead to M&A exits for startups. She has created integration playbooks, facilitated seven integrations, and managed more than 20 alliances. She has led several global, cross-functional strategies.

Christine is a serial entrepreneur who cofounded a specialty chemicals intermediates business, which successfully exited to Great Lakes Chemical in five years with double digit return on investment.

Prior to joining the Polsky Center, Christine served as CEO of Quest Strategies, which provides strategic consulting to innovative growth companies. Before that, she served as the vice president of innovation and entrepreneurship at the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership and managed the Helix Fund, which provides funding to life science and information technology startups. She also created STL Export Accelerator, the nation’s first accelerator to focus on exporting, managed a regional business plan competition, co-led a movement to coordinate all of St. Louis’ assets to achieve innovation results and managed five incubators with approximately 800 entrepreneurs.

Christine received her bachelor’s degree of science in chemistry and biomedical sciences from Western Michigan University, her PhD in chemistry from Purdue University, and her MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities and world travel.

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. 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

Deputy Director, Duality and Director, Industry Partnerships for Quantum Information Science

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Preeti Chalsani, PhD

Deputy Director, Duality and 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 deputy director of Duality where she helps set the accelerator’s strategic vision while providing the technology context to the accelerator and build relationships with corporate partners, mentors, quantum startups, partners, and stakeholders. She also 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.

Benjamin Cox, PHD

Benjamin Cox, PHD

Associate Manager, Intellectual Property and Technology Development

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Benjamin Cox, PHD

Associate Manager, Intellectual Property and Technology Development

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 associate manager of intellectual property and technology development 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.

Anne Juggernauth, PhD

Anne Juggernauth, PhD

Senior Manager, Business Development & Licensing

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Anne Juggernauth, PhD

Senior Manager, Business Development & Licensing

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

Anne Juggernauth, PhD serves as the senior manager, business development & licensing at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Anne works with faculty in quantum engineering, molecular engineering, and materials sciences to help transform their ideas and discoveries into patents, licenses, products, services, and startup ventures. She helps lead intellectual portfolio patenting, licensing, strategic partner development, and technology commercialization activities.

Prior to joining Polsky, Anne spent several years in the research in the materials industry where she worked with open innovation, technology scouting, and global platform technologies. She also spent time at the University of Michigan managing a diverse portfolio and leading the tech transfer fellows program to train graduate students and postdocs in conducting market and commercialization assessment reports on new inventions.

Anne earned a PhD and MS  in macromolecular materials science and engineering from University of Michigan and BS from Michigan Tech University. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, visiting family all over the world, trying new cuisines, and yoga.

Sergio Marrero

Sergio Marrero

Assistant Director, George Shultz Innovation Fund

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Sergio Marrero

Assistant Director, George Shultz Innovation Fund

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

Sergio Marrero leads the George Schultz Innovation Fund at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago. He is also the founder and general partner of Rebel One, an investor network and fund focused on accelerating founders for a better world.

Sergio graduated from the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Previously he worked at Gotham Ventures, PepsiCo, Teach For America, and Deloitte Consulting. While in graduate school he conducted his thesis on venture studios and accelerating impact innovation at the intersection of business and government. He also runs a podcast and LiveStream Series called RBL1 Live focused on advocating for diversity in venture capital.

Shyama Majumdar, PhD, MBA

Shyama Majumdar, PhD, MBA

Senior Manager, Science Ventures

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Shyama Majumdar, PhD, MBA

Senior Manager, Science Ventures

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

Shyama Majumdar, PhD, MBA, is senior manager of science ventures at the Polsky Center. In this role, 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. 

Kevin Muite, PhD ’16

Kevin Muite, PhD ’16

Businesses Development and Licensing Manager

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Kevin Muite, PhD ’16

Businesses Development and Licensing Manager

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

Kevin Muite serves as the businesses development and licensing manager at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Kevin works with University faculty and commercial partners for licensing new technologies and building new companies to accelerate the transition of scientific discoveries into accessible and sustainable products.

Prior to joining Polsky, Kevin was senior manager of strategic programs at MATTER, where he built pitch programs and workshops for promising new ventures and established business connections throughout the Chicago innovation ecosystem. Before MATTER, Kevin was a senior portfolio manager at Villgro Kenya, where he partnered with global life sciences companies and major foundations (UNICEF, USAID, and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others) to bring therapeutics and diagnostics to residents of East Africa.

Kevin enjoys going on safaris and visiting local museums, restaurants, and playgrounds with his son and an occasional visits to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra play.

Kenneth Gayosa Onishi, PhD

Kenneth Gayosa Onishi, PhD

Associate Manager, Business Development & Licensing - Microbiome

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Kenneth Gayosa Onishi, PhD

Associate Manager, Business Development & Licensing - Microbiome

6054 South Drexel Avenue, Suite 405
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.834-8154
E: kgonishi@uchicago.edu

Kenneth Gayosa Onishi, PhD, serves as associate manager for business development and licensing at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Ken works with faculty in the Duchossois Family Institute to build partnerships with companies working in the microbiome and helps researchers transform their ideas and discoveries into licenses, products, services, and startups.

Prior to joining Polsky, Ken managed the chronobiology and neuroimmunology laboratory at the Institute for Mind and Biology. He earned his PhD in integrative neuroscience from the University of Chicago and his research focused on circadian rhythms and sex differences in biomedical research. While pursuing his doctoral degree, Ken performed due diligence as a George Schultz Innovation Fund Associate and screened novel University technologies for scientific merit, market size, and consumer adoption.

Ken is dedicated to commercializing microbiome-related technologies to improve health outcomes via therapeutics and diagnostics. In his spare time, Ken enjoys climbing, running outdoors, and experimenting in the kitchen.

Shane Thomas Peace, PhD

Shane Thomas Peace, PhD

Associate Manager, Intellectual Property and Technology Development

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Shane Thomas Peace, PhD

Associate Manager, Intellectual Property and Technology Development

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
E: stpeace11@uchicago.edu

Shane Thomas Peace, PhD, is an associate manager, intellectual property and technology development, at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He manages patent filings and prosecution for a diverse set of faculty from the Biological Sciences Division and Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. In addition, Shane participates in faculty outreach efforts and in assessing new technologies from intellectual property and commercial potential perspectives.

Prior to joining Polsky, Shane was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Chicago’s Institute for Mind and Biology, where he researched the role of cortical feedback in the olfactory system during odor discrimination tasks using electrophysiological and optogenetic tools. Shane earned a PhD in neurobiology and behavior at Cornell University where he used a microelectrode array and optogenetics to study neural synchronization mechanisms that coordinate coherent oscillations in the olfactory bulb. Shane earned a BA in psychology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

In his free time, Shane enjoys low and slow barbeque, listening to the Mississippi delta blues, and spending time in the great outdoors.

Mario Riojas, PhD, JD

Mario Riojas, PhD, JD

Associate Director of Intellectual Property and Technology Development

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Mario Riojas, PhD, JD

Associate Director of Intellectual Property and Technology Development

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

Mario Riojas, Ph.D., J.D., serves as the associate director of intellectual property and technology development at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He works with faculty to develop intellectual property strategies and commercialization plans, as well as negotiating agreements between the University and commercial partners. He is committed to assisting University researchers with advancing cutting-edge innovations into commercial products in the marketplace

Prior to joining Polsky, Mario was a patent attorney for a major law firm in New York City. Mario also worked as a patent examiner at the United States Patent and Trademark Office specializing in the examination of artificial intelligence patent applications.

Mario earned his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law, and his Ph.D. and M.S. in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Arizona.

Mario is registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Dane Smith

Dane Smith

Senior Associate Director, Business Development and Licensing for Computer Science Technologies

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Dane Smith

Senior Associate Director, Business Development and Licensing for Computer Science Technologies

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 the senior director of business development and licensing for computer science technologies 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

Manager, Intellectual Property and Technology Development, The Duckworth Family Cancer Fellow

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Han Sun, PhD

Manager, Intellectual Property and Technology Development, The Duckworth Family Cancer Fellow

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. 

Zongxing Wang, PhD

Zongxing Wang, PhD

Manager, Science Ventures

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Zongxing Wang, PhD

Manager, Science Ventures

6054 S. Drexel Ave.,
Suite 405,
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773 834 6453
E: zwang21@uchicago.edu

Zongxing Wang, PhD is the manager of Polsky Science Ventures at the University of Chicago Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In this role, he leads multiple efforts to commercialize advanced new deep technologies developed at the University of Chicago. He handles technology assessment, market research, and strategy formulation.

Prior to joining Polsky, Zongxing Wang worked at ARCH Venture Partners to help source deals and analyze investment opportunities. He also has experience working with a unicorn startup, Magic Leap, to help research and develop its first commercial product – Magic Leap 1. Dr. Wang has experience building startups ground-up as well. He successfully founded Neukit Corporation to manufacture a drug delivery particle, and generated significant returns to his business partners. He won several awards for technology invention and commercialization, including SBIR grants from NIH and awards from philanthropy.

Zongxing earned his PhD in biomedical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He is currently working towards an MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Zongxing is deeply passionate about commercializing technologies, especially those that bring profound social impact and improve people’s lives. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, gardening, and spending time with his family.

Marketing and Communications

Micheline Pergande

Micheline Pergande

Director, Marketing and Communications

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Micheline Pergande

Director, Marketing and Communications

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.702.7732
E: micheline@uchicago.edu

Micheline Pergande is a results-driven marketing executive with a strong track record of helping companies—spanning Fortune 500, startup, CPG, food and beverage, retail, e-commerce, and higher education—create breakout brands and connect the dots to achieve the impossible. She leads the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation marketing and communications function and oversees a team of marketing professionals supporting all units across Polsky. Micheline serves on the University of Chicago’s Key Communicators group and works closely with senior leadership on various strategic marketing initiatives. As Director of Marketing and Communications for the Polsky Center, she focuses on defining the Polsky brand and delivering impactful communications and campaigns to engage all of Polsky’s key stakeholders.

Prior to joining the Polsky Center, Micheline worked in brand management at Unilever Food Solutions supporting category performance in North America for Hellmann’s, Best Foods, Country Crock, Promise, Becel, and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Before that, Micheline was the Senior Manager of E-Commerce Strategy and digital marketing for Chicago-based Argo Tea where she initiated the company’s first-ever gift box packaging concept, facilitated industry-wide recognition as Nation’s Restaurant News Top 50 “2013 Breakout Brands”, managed the company’s social media engagement strategy across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Yelp, and completely overhauled the company’s e-commerce website in time for the 2012 holiday shopping season. Before her rewarding stint at Argo Tea, Micheline reported into the CEO/President and was named Director of Product Marketing for Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi Nerve Center, the R&D hub responsible for developing next generation advertising solutions. She serves on the global leadership team during the time when the advertising world embarked upon its digital transformation as social media, programmatic media buying, and audience targeting solutions emerged and needed to quickly become new core competencies for agencies. Before becoming a seasoned marketer, Micheline gained technical skills as a web developer in the Bay Area, where she was born and raised. She developed database-driven web applications in PHP and MySQL for her alma mater, Saint Mary’s College of California, before moving out to Chicago in 2006 to attend graduate school.

Micheline earned a B.A. with honors in Communication from Saint Mary’s College of California, an M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications with a specialization in Direct, Database and E-Commerce marketing from Northwestern University’s Medill School, and an MBA with concentrations in Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and International Business from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She was awarded the Walter Dill Scott Award from Medill faculty. She also earned a Professional Certificate in Web Design from the University of California at Berkeley in 2001.

As a proud daughter of an entrepreneurial family, Micheline is passionate about the Polsky Center’s role in supporting students, faculty, alumni and community entrepreneurs with their entrepreneurial ambitions.  Micheline and her husband, Shaun, a Chicago Booth ’13 graduate, reside in Chicago with their daughter.

Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz

Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz

Associate Director, Media Relations and External Communications

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Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz

Associate Director, Media Relations and External Communications

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
P: 312.286.0060
E: Alexia.Elejalde-Ruiz@chicagobooth.edu

Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz is associate director of media relations and external communications at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago. She leads all media relations for the Polsky Center and develops successful external communication strategies to generate local, national, and global coverage of the Polsky Center and its leadership in venture creation, science innovation, technology commercialization, partnership development, and supporting South Side small businesses.

Alexia came to Polsky after a 20-year career as a journalist. Most recently she was a business reporter at the Chicago Tribune covering the food industry and employment issues, beats that found her traversing peach farms in downstate Illinois and automated manufacturing plants in the northwest suburbs to tell the human stories behind the data and trends. Prior to joining the business desk, Alexia was a features reporter for the Tribune’s lifestyle section and for RedEye. Alexia got her start in journalism covering crime for the City News Service and suburban news for the Daily Herald, plus had early stints at WGN Radio and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

A native of Washington, D.C., Alexia received her bachelor of art’s degree in international relations from Brown University. She currently lives in Logan Square with her husband and their dog, Kaya, whose walks take up an inordinate amount of her free time.

For media inquiries, please contact Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz at 312.286.0060 or alexia.elejalde-ruiz@chicagobooth.edu.

Melissa Fassbender

Melissa Fassbender

Senior Assistant Director, External Relations and Science Communications

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Melissa Fassbender

Senior Assistant Director, External Relations and Science Communications

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.834.1134
E: melissa.fassbender@chicagobooth.edu

Melissa Fassbender serves as the senior assistant director, external relations and science communications at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She is responsible for planning and managing all logistics for external brand-building opportunities and events, engaging with campus partners, media outlets, and external organizations in the entrepreneurial, science, technology, and business community.

Prior to joining Polsky, Melissa was an editor at Xconomy where she wrote about innovation in the biotech space. Before this, she held the same title at Outsourcing-Pharma, a global publication focused on drug development and clinical trials. She also was the editor of an online and print magazine dedicated to design engineering.

Melissa earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of St. Thomas, where she majored in literary studies and minored in communications and journalism.

Melissa is interested in old books, modern art, and coffee in any form.

Madeline Reto

Madeline Reto

Senior Assistant Director, Digital Marketing and Communications

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Madeline Reto

Senior Assistant Director, Digital Marketing and Communications

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.834.3695
E: madelinereto@uchicago.edu

Madeline Reto is the senior assistant director of digital marketing and communications at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She is responsible for strategically and creatively promoting news, events, and programs through various digital channels.

Prior to joining Polsky, Madeline spent several years in marketing, public relations, and corporate event planning. She has worked for various organizations, ranging from award-winning, boutique agencies to a Fortune 500 company. Madeline earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and advertising from Central Michigan University.

After spending several years abroad in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, Madeline now resides in Oak Park with her husband and daughter. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the many neighborhoods of Chicago by foot, photography, and cooking with her family.

Jessy Tapper, AM ’15

Jessy Tapper, AM ’15

Senior Writer and Content Manager, Marketing and Communications

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Jessy Tapper, AM ’15

Senior Writer and Content Manager, Marketing and Communications

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
E: jtapper@uchicago.edu

Jessy Tapper Derleth, AM ’15, serves as the senior writer and content manager at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She is primarily responsible for writing the Polsky Weekly 10, a weekly email newsletter that shares the most relevant and exciting news in Polsky’s ecosystem to upwards of 25,000 subscribers from around the world every Friday. 

Prior to joining Polsky, Jessy worked as a copywriter for a comprehensive marketing agency, helping to shape the voice and experiential language for a variety of household brand names, from Sour Patch Kids and Wheat Thins to United Airlines and the U.S. Army.  

Jessy earned her master’s degree in humanities from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University where she graduated cum laude with highest honors in English. 

Outside of her work with the Polsky Center, Jessy spends most of her time writing for other mediums, currently trying her hand at fiction. In her spare time, she loves reading a good (and sometimes bad) book, yoga, learning to cook, NFL RedZone, and her adorable French bulldog pup named Hank. 

Operations

James Licklider

James Licklider

Executive Director of Operations and Chief of Staff

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James Licklider

Executive Director of Operations and Chief of Staff

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.834.5641
E: jlicklider@uchicago.edu

Executive Assistant:
Camille Andres
O: 773.702.0926
E: candres@uchicago.edu

James Licklider serves as the executive director of operations and chief of staff for the Polsky Center. In this role, he oversees finance, human resources, IT, facilities and space needs, and strategic planning.

Prior to Polsky, James spent over seven years at UChicago’s Institute for Mind and Biology as its administrative director. He managed the post-award operation for the Florida State University College of Medicine and guided its faculty practice plan as chief financial officer. James also held roles in central post-award administration at FSU, pre-award and department administration at DePaul University, and executive management in several Chicago nonprofits.

James earned an MS in accountancy, MS in public services management, and a BA in political science at DePaul University. He is a Certified Research Administrator and a former participant in the Executive Program for Emerging Leaders (EPEL) at Chicago Booth.

Camille Andres

Camille Andres

Executive Assistant to the Associate Vice President and Head of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

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Camille Andres

Executive Assistant to the Associate Vice President and Head of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave., Suite 207
Chicago, IL 60637
O: 773.702.0926
E: candres@uchicago.edu

Camille Andres serves as the executive assistant to the associate vice president and head of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She is responsible for support functions as well as special projects for the AVP and director of operations and chief of staff.

Prior to joining Polsky, Camille served as senior assistant to the associate dean, Psychology Department at Pepperdine University for 11 years. She supported the associate dean and also handled significant graduate program responsibilities, such as adjunct faculty hires, course schedules, payroll, and new student orientations. Before working at Pepperdine, Camille also served as administrative coordinator at another graduate school and has worked in various forms of healthcare. She began her career at Crain’s Communications in Chicago.

Camille earned a bachelor of arts in communications from Loyola University of Chicago.

Camille loves to travel both domestically and internationally, and in her spare time she enjoys working out, watching sports, and spending time with her family.

Carla Bradshaw-Murry

Carla Bradshaw-Murry

Patent Docketing Administrator

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Carla Bradshaw-Murry

Patent Docketing Administrator

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.834.3210
E: cbradshaw@uchicago.edu

Carla Bradshaw is patent docketing administrator for the Polsky Center, supporting the management of patent portfolios. Specifically, she handles patent docketing and event monitoring, license maintenance, financial review, government and private foundation compliance reporting, grant closeouts, as well as other intellectual property administrative matters. Carla plays a key role in organizing events and has been a member of several teams assembled to implement office-wide initiatives.

Prior to joining the Polsky Center, Carla spent several years in the banking industry and has also worked with the International Association of Assessing Officers (IIAO) in its Property Appraisal and Assessment Administration department, handling high volume inquiries, tracking progress and serving as liaison for different committees.

Carla has a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She is currently pursuing her Paralegal Certificate. She is a Chicagoan, born and raised in the Bronzeville neighborhood on the South Side of the city.

Kim Chin

Kim Chin

Project Analyst

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Kim Chin

Project Analyst

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.702.2948
E: kimberlyc@uchicago.edu

As a Project Analyst on the Data Administration and Compliance team, Kim supports administrative processes related to technology commercialization, including arranging submission of formal documents and monitoring patent maintenance fees and annuity schedules.

Prior to joining Polsky, they managed operations for a curatorial department at the Art Institute of Chicago, with a focus on interdepartmental relationship-building within the institution. Kim has a background in classical languages and literature with undergraduate and graduate degrees both from the University of Chicago.

In their spare time, they enjoy knitting and training regularly on aerial rope, straps, and handbalancing.

Cindy Domecki

Cindy Domecki

Receptionist

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Cindy Domecki

Receptionist

1452 E. 53rd Street, 2nd floor 
Chicago, IL 60615
O: 773.795.0075
E: cdomecki@uchicago.edu

Cindy Domecki is responsible for all visitors’ first impressions of the Polsky Exchange both in person and through telephone. Additionally she assists with various administrative tasks.

Beatriz Gonzalez

Beatriz Gonzalez

Executive Assistant

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Beatriz Gonzalez

Executive Assistant

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.834.3209
E: gonzalezb@uchicago.edu

Beatriz Gonzalez is the executive assistant for Bill Payne, executive director for science and technology at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She support executive administrative functions and special projects for the technology commercialization and operations teams.

Prior to working at the Polsky Center, Beatriz spent a dozen years as an assistant at a law firm in the West Loop. She enjoys working on projects at home, revamping spaces and creating new ideas.

Kyle Hanna

Kyle Hanna

Data Administrator

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Kyle Hanna

Data Administrator

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.834.3205
E: kylehanna@uchicago.edu

Kyle Hanna serves as the data administrator at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He works closely with colleagues from the tech commercialization and operations teams to manage data, complete reports, and monitor compliance related to invention disclosures, patents, and contracts. He will also be responsible for business process development of the aforementioned data, reporting, and compliance activities.

Prior to joining Polsky, Kyle served as the assistant director, data management at UChicago’s Alumni Relations and Development office, developing engagement data strategy for Harper Lectures and other special events. Before coming to UChicago, he worked in Washington DC in various levels of government, including the DC Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and the Obama White House. While working for the White House, he became interested in science and technology policy and the application of data science in public institutions.

Kyle is interested in how technology, innovation, and design thinking can support sustainable development and social impact in international communities. In his spare time, Kyle enjoys video editing, international travel, and reading about how technology, politics, and entrepreneurship influence society and culture.

Kyle earned a BA in international economics from the George Washington University and a certificate in data analytics from the University of Chicago.

Jane Johnson

Jane Johnson

3D and Fabrication Fellow

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Jane Johnson

3D and Fabrication Fellow

1452 E. 53rd Street, 2nd floor 
Chicago, IL 60615
O: 773.702.2952
E: janej@uchicago.edu

Jane Johnson serves as the 3D and Fabrication Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She assists members with prototyping and ensures lab equipment is properly functioning. Prior to joining Polsky, she was in the Metal Fabrication industry as a CNC Machinist where she worked on projects for aerospace and other projects related to the Department of Defense. Jane recently completed the robotics training program at Building Self Determination, and is also certified by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills.

Jane joined Technology Manufacturing Aligned in 2013 and the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council in 2017. In her spare time, she serves the homeless in her community and is part of a motorcycle club. She also practices yoga.  

Shakira Jones

Shakira Jones

Disclosure Administrator

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Shakira Jones

Disclosure Administrator

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.834.3048
E: sjones18@uchicago.edu

Shakira Jones is the disclosure administrator at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She manages invention disclosure, patenting, and license agreement data and processes. Shakira brings to the team a strong background in customer relations and administration. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering with her church’s food pantry, and has worked with Habitat for Humanity in Louisiana to rehabilitate homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Wendy Jones

Wendy Jones

HR and Financial Coordinator

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Wendy Jones

HR and Financial Coordinator

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.702.1966
E: jonesw@uchicago.edu

_

Elizabeth Koprucki

Elizabeth Koprucki

Assistant Director, Fab Lab and Design

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Elizabeth Koprucki

Assistant Director, Fab Lab and Design

1452 E. 53rd Street, 2nd floor 
Chicago, IL 60615
O: 773.795.0558
E: ekoprucki@uchicago.edu

Elizabeth Koprucki serves as the assistant director, Fab Lab and design at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She manages the Polsky Center’s Fab Lab where she mentors entrepreneurs and researchers through the prototyping process. She oversees the Fab Lab’s programming and staffing and connects Polsky Exchange members with resources on campus and across Chicago. 

Prior to joining Polsky, Elizabeth designed and co-taught a maker program at the Ancona School, as well as working as a maker educator at the Art Institute and the Chicago Public Library. She served as CNC area host at Pumping Station:One and has done graphic design for a number of South Side businesses and nonprofits. 

Elizabeth earned a BA in graphic design from Bradley University. 

Elizabeth is passionate about getting people involved in prototyping and making. In her spare time, she continues to be active in the Chicago maker community. She volunteers as a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador and enjoys making jewelry and traveling. 

Doreen Mitchell, MBA

Doreen Mitchell, MBA

Controller

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Doreen Mitchell, MBA

Controller

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.702.0304
E: dmitchell@uchicago.edu

Doreen Mitchell manages the Polsky Center’s assets through the development, input, analysis, and continuous improvement of financial systems and reports required to provide accurate financial information to the Polsky Center’s stakeholders, and she ensures adequate controls are maintained to safeguard assets and that financial and human resource-related business processes comply with University of Chicago policies.

Prior to joining Polsky, Doreen spent her career working for both for-profit and not-for-profit entities. She was the controller for The American Dietetic Association and The American Dietetic Association Foundation, a Professional Association of over 70,000 members. She went on to become the Controller for Casa Central, the largest Hispanic social services agency in the Midwest. At Casa, Doreen worked with many different Federal, State and Local Agencies and was responsible for accurate reporting and recording of grant monies. She was the vice president controller and chief complianceofficer for Ibbotson Associates (now a wholly owned subsidy of Morningstar), a leading authority on asset allocation and registered investment advisor with the SEC. In addition to her accounting and financial management responsibilities, she was instrumental in creating and implementing Ibbotson’s SEC mandated compliance policies and procedures.

Doreen received her bachelor’s of science  degree in accounting from Eastern Illinois University and an MBA in finance from DePaul University. She is an active member of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM).

Danielle Moore

Danielle Moore

Receptionist

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Danielle Moore

Receptionist

1452 E. 53rd Street, 2nd floor 
Chicago, IL 60615
O: 773.834.5168
E: daniellem@uchicago.edu

Danielle Moore is responsible for all visitors’ first impressions of the Polsky Exchange both in person and through telephone inquiries regarding membership. Additionally she assists with various administrative task.

Nick Neu

Nick Neu

Financial Analyst

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Nick Neu

Financial Analyst

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.702.2470
E: nneu@uchicago.edu

Nick Neu serves as a financial analyst for the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In this role, Nick performs comprehensive reviews and analysis of financial statements and financial data. He has previously served as operations manager at the Polsky Exchange where he played an integral role in maintaining the most community facing component of the Polsky Center footprint, overseeing all physical aspects of the Polsky Exchange and managing logistical support for events, programming, and Polsky staff working within the facility. 

Prior to joining Polsky, Nick managed the inventory team as a member of the Facilities Services department at the University of Chicago. In addition to providing sourcing, procurement, and planning support, while also assisting with various department wide analytics projects.

Nick earned a BA in chemistry from Michigan State University. Since graduating from MSU, he has continued to explore additional educational opportunities, earning a certificate in supply chain management from MIT and becoming increasingly involved with APPA, the leading industry group for educational facilities management professionals.  

Christopher Schneider

Christopher Schneider

IT Support Specialist

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Christopher Schneider

IT Support Specialist

1452 E. 53rd Street, 2nd floor 
Chicago, IL 60615
E: cschneider1@uchicago.edu

Christopher  Schneider serves as the IT support specialist at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He runs the TechBar at the Polsky Exchange, a walk-up technology support desk providing IT consulting, equipment rentals, and troubleshooting support for Polsky Exchange members and staff. In addition, he works with the Polsky Exchange staff to improve systems and programming to better serve the needs of entrepreneurs at the University and the Mid-South Side.  

Christopher  is interested in how technology and innovation shape ethics and culture in the modern world, and how to promote and support social impact innovation. In his spare time, he enjoys biking, hammocking, and reading about theology, philosophy, and politics. 

Teana Stocco

Teana Stocco

Licensing Administrator

View Bio

Teana Stocco

Licensing Administrator

6054 S. Drexel Ave., Suite 405
Chicago IL 60637
O: 773.834.0272
E: tstocco@uchicago.edu

Teana Stocco supports the patent and licensing portfolio as licensing administrator. She also helps to manage the team’s relationships with several University and non-University organizations including University Research Administration, the University of Chicago Investment Office, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Prior to joining Polsky, Teana worked for several law firms in the areas of litigation, personal injury, and employment law.

Teana received her bachelor’s in science degree in legal studies from Grand Valley State University, and a law degree from Lewis & Clark Law School. Teana resides in the near west suburbs with her husband and three daughters.

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