University Innovation Fellows Southeastern Regional Meetup

Tulane University’s OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACELT-SI Engaged Learning Award enabled me to participate in the national University Innovation (UI) Fellows Southeastern Regional Meetup in Greenville, South Carolina (sponsored by VentureWell, Stanford University, and the NSF-funded Epicenter). Over 40 undergraduate and graduate students from the hosting Universities (Clemson & Furman) and other Universities sponsoring UI Fellows attended the Meetup to sharpen their design thinking skills and lean customer inquiry abilities with a specific focus on the surrounding community of Greenville ( For two days, I actively participated in exercises and discussions focused on community ecosystems, community partnerships, lean startup methods, and communication. I was also trained by the Stanford University Design School on the fundamentals of design thinking in order to lead a workshop for my peers during the Meetup. As a Bioinnovation PhD candidate focused on translating biomedical research technologies to the market, it is crucial to understand the broader influence of these technologies on society. Academic research cannot successfully transition to the marketplace without a strategic focus on societal impact. This Southeastern Regional Meetup bolstered my academic understanding of social entrepreneurship and honed my communication skills – key elements essential to any aspiring innovator seeking to make a significant impact on society.10712795_10204314688574754_1709517204547605185_n

I was first introduced to CELT-SI through Rebecca Otten following my induction as a VentureWell UI Fellow in November 2013. The following March, I presented a poster at the VentureWell OPEN Conference in San Jose, CA, which portrayed the CELT-SI initiatives to great national attention; in fact, this presentation advanced to the final round because of Tulane’s notable commitment to social innovation and social entrepreneurship. Due to my ongoing connection with CELT-SI and UI Fellows I was directed by Ms. Otten to apply for the Engaged Learning Award. Without the support of this award, I would have not been able to attend the 2014 UI Fellows Southeastern Regional Meetup, as other funding opportunities specifically designed for engaged learning experiences in social innovation were limited. The social innovation and design thinking lessons learned through the Meetup are further described on the UI Tulane wiki page ( This website is a dedicated online platform for Tulane students interested in pursuing social/entrepreneurial innovations. It serves as a hub for the Tulane community to learn about social innovation and entrepreneurship resources available to them on campus and throughout the greater New Orleans area.