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Alexey Tonyushkin (left) and Matthew Bell (right)
April 29, 2016

President Meehan Honors UMass Boston Professors with Tech Development Awards


  • Boston

President Marty Meehan announced this month that eight UMass technology projects — two of them based at UMass Boston — will receive a total of $215,000 in Tech Development Fund awards.

Over the past 13 years, the UMass system has invested more than $2.3 million in faculty research and development projects through the Tech Development Fund.

“With these awards, we are investing in today and are seeding tomorrow,” Meehan said. “This program pays enormous scientific and economic dividends and demonstrates the critical role that public research universities play in our world.”

The two UMass Boston awardees, engineering professor Matthew Bell and physics professor Alexey Tonyushkin, will use the awards to assist them in the development and commercialization of promising new technologies.

Bell’s award of $25,000 will help him develop a prototype based on his research into low-noise amplifiers for quantum computers. Bell said that grants like these, that help engineers bring their technologies to market, are very important.

“In the 1950’s, scientists created the first transistors. All of our modern technology is possible because of [transistors], but they had no idea how revolutionary it could be,” Bell said. “That’s what this technology could be in 20 or 50 years.”

Tonyushkin’s award of $5,000 will help him investigate commercial markets for a promising new medical imaging device.

Tonyushkin works on Magnetic Particle Imaging (MPI), a new technology that has significant advantages over Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) because it can scan more deeply into the body. Tonyushkin hopes he will be able to develop a human-scale MPI machine that can help doctors track and treat vascular disease, cancer, and even track the progress of drug therapies in the body.

The Tech Development Fund is administered by the Office of Technology Commercialization and Venture (OTCV), based at the UMass President’s Office. The projects funded by OTCV have gone on to generate $15 million in follow-on investment, generating numerous commercial licenses and patents, and resulting in startup companies locating in Massachusetts.

Funding of these annual awards comes from commercial licensing income on earlier faculty discoveries along with a grant from the President’s Office.