IDEAs Awards inspire future innovators

Students cluster in groups to talk in an auditorium
Peter Webley
Students work in teams to ideate around the theme of 'a modern learning experience.'

Great research innovations should be recognized and that’s what the IDEAs Awards are all about!

Center ICE recently co-hosted an ICE Jam event with the UAF Honors College on the subject of ideation and to recognize the 2021-2022 winners of the Innovative Disclosures and Entrepreneurial Activities (IDEAs) awards. This in-person event was held at  UAF’s Schaible Auditorium and was  attended by about 80 first-year students, honors students, members of the local entrepreneurial community and IDEAs winners.

Six awards were presented, including the Social Impact award for Matt Wooller’s innovative research into isotopic fingerprinting of illicit opioids to help understand trafficking networks inside and outside of Alaska. Wooller’s research has also been used to map the movement of long-extinct woolly mammoths as they roamed Alaska, and in 2007, in partnership with Alaska law enforcement agencies, his research methods were  used to determine if then- illegal marijuana had been grown locally or imported from out of state. 

The Best Undergraduate Student Disclosure was awarded to Jasmine Kobayashi and her research colleagues on Machine Learning Models for Solar Wind Data Gaps.

Those in attendance learned what inspired the inventive research and what drove the winners to build out their research hypotheses and work toward their final outcomes.

“It was encouraging to hear how the winners were inspired to make a difference, build products to remove barriers and hurdles, and develop products that they and others can use and have a broader impact on research and society,” said IDEAs Awards creator Peter Webley.

After being inspired by the celebrated innovators, the event attendees themselves worked in teams on ideating around a significant theme that would impact them and their peers, 'What does a modern learning experience look like?'

The teams discussed what they thought about in terms of the modern experience and evaluated  whether their team had the skills and resources to develop a project to support the experience they envisioned that would benefit everyone.

“Two teams reported back, and it was amazing to hear the projects that they saw as impactful and interesting while providing new opportunities to all,” said Webley. “Who knows, those students may become the IDEAs winners of 2023, 2024 and beyond.”

Read more on the IDEAs winners at the program's website.