MSU celebrates inventors and researchers

“I look at universities such as Montana State University and see the young people of tomorrow,” Montana Governor Steve Bullock announced at the Optical Science and Engineering Conference at MSU last Thursday.

The event was hosted by MSU Optical Technology Center (OpTeC) along with the support of MSU Vice-President for Research and Economic Development, Renee Reijo Pera.

In conjunction with OpTeC, the first Celebration of Invention luncheon was held to celebrate MSU researchers and affiliated companies that have earned patents in the past. The events attracted current MSU students, faculty, and industry specialists alike.

With the help of Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and MSU President Waded Cruzado, inventors were inducted into the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) during the celebration. One of the members inducted into NAI was Interim Head of the Department of Microbiology, Mark Jutila, along with his father. The Jutilas were recognized for the creation of LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals which “works to further develop vaccines,” Jutila stated. LigoCyte is famous for having created a vaccine that has helped to prevent norovirus. The biopharmaceutical company was recently acquired by a Chinese company, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, for $60 million.

The Governor began his remarks by stating how hard it is, “just trying to pronounce some of the research you guys have done.” He more broadly remarked on the great “economic benefit” that the researchers and industry professionals in the audience have contributed to Montana. He then urged the audience of about 100 individuals to look forward to a future filled with students. “Years from now these will be the people inventing new vaccines and solving our nation’s greater problems,” Gov. Bullock said.

Pera was the keynote speaker and spoke about her optimism for continued research funding at MSU despite national cutbacks in research spending. According to Pera, 39 percent of MSU’s grant applications receive competitive funding, which is twice the national average. In 2014, MSU received $90.5 million in research grants, Pera suggests this is indicative of MSU’s strength in faculty.

OpTeC director Joe Show gave welcoming remarks while a number of professors and industry professionals spoke about everything — from the commercialization of optics to ultrafast imaging and spectroscopy of strained nanostructures. Finally students from the MSU Spectrum Lab held a session in which they showcased research posters that included compressive laser ranging and imaging to name a few.

The conference was a big day for MSU, as it showcased more than more than 20 current student’s research as well as recognized more than 80 researchers and affiliated companies that have stemmed from MSU.

“We need to tell the story of just how great we are,” Pera noted.