What was your background before coming to the UI this semester to direct the new Office of Research and Technology Management in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research? I received my bachelor's and master's degrees at Iowa State University in animal science, [and] I earned a PhD at the University of Kentucky. For 11 years, I was at Upjohn, where I was on the research-scientist career path doing work in animal diseases and nutrition. I then was at Monsanto, where I was a middle-level manager in the area of recombinant DNA engineering. Then I went to Texas A&M, where I worked in industrial relations for the agriculture experiment station. Then I was at Indiana University for 4 1/2 years. I was involved in starting up companies at A&M and at Indiana. As director of the new unit, what are your duties? My job is to assure that we provide as much service as possible to faculty, staff and students to protect and transfer their discoveries to the public sector. That includes establishing an outreach program to create an external awareness of the university's intellectual property assets, as well as an internal awareness of external needs. I will staff the office with people with expertise and capabilities to achieve those goals - adding at least three more people to the three technology administrators we already have. In addition, we'll develop student associates. The university has highly qualified students in technical areas, as well as in the MBA and business programs, that we'd like to interact with. They have the kind of expertise that fulfills our needs, and we can meet their needs for hands-on learning. What are the primary functions of your unit? To handle arrangements that involve corporate relationships. That includes intellectual property, patents and licensing agreements. We also will be involved in the development of intellectual property assets. That can be an invention, gifts to us associated with technology, or alliances involving joint partnerships. We'll do the development it takes to get products into the market quicker. We'll also have an educational role to play. So we can make students, staff and faculty aware of how we can assist them, we'll have a seminar series next spring and again in the fall. In the seminars, we'll address things like start-up companies, contract language and ways to protect and add value to intellectual assets. So, basically, your unit's chief function is to facilitate technology transfer. We hear that phrase thrown around a lot, but what does it mean exactly? If faculty or students discover something of commercial value while using university facilities and funds administered by the university, the university will have some right to the property - as will the individual. Our concern is how do we best get that discovery into the hands of the people who need it? How do you decide whether an invention or other type of intellectual property is worth developing further? First, we do an assessment with the faculty member or student to look at the market potential of the intellectual property and protection of the property. We assess it as to its lifecycle; its technical value; if it has been published - in which case, we lose worldwide rights; whether it would be appropriate to start a company or just license it. We also assess where the individual is in respect to publishing plans and patents. Once we complete an evaluation, we develop a strategy for marketing. Once that strategy is in place, we're out to market. Then we make contacts with companies and determine if interest exists in funding further development and/or acquiring the discovery. The process is no different than in the corporate world when they acquire a new property. The UI and other universities seem to be marketing intellectual property more aggressively than ever before. Why is that? Our students, faculty and programs are top-notch, and many of our intellectual assets are top-notch, too. We generate ideas and discoveries that are valuable to the public, and we need to develop and deploy their "products" to the public as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible. The transfer should also provide some revenue to offset declining state and federal support.