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Leadership & Technology Managers
Lesley Millar-Nicholson

Lesley Millar-Nicholson has served as the Director of the Office of Technology Management (OTM) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 2006; she originally joined the Office in 2002 as an Engineering Technology Manager. As Director, Ms. Millar-Nicholson leads a team of more than 20 professionals responsible for engaging with faculty, staff, corporations, and venture groups to commercialize the intellectual property arising from the more than $600 million in research conducted on campus. She also works with a wide range of campus, corporate, and community partners, furthering the office's mission to encourage innovation, enhance research and facilitate economic development. Prior to joining the OTM, she had an extensive career in local government in England where she worked in consulting, contract and small business management, strategic planning, and policy development.

Ms. Millar-Nicholson is a frequent speaker at technology transfer seminars and professional meetings. She is President-Elect of the Board of Governors of Certified Licensing Professionals Inc. and a member of the Board of Managers of Illinois Ventures LLC.  She is a regular contributor to articles and webinars for Technology Transfer Tactics and provides ongoing advice and guidance to Enterprise Ireland on technology transfer issues for Irish Universities. She is a member of both the Licensing Executive Society and the Association of University Technology Managers. A native of Scotland, Ms. Millar-Nicholson has a B.Ed. an M.Ed and an MBA. She is also a Certified Licensing Professional (CLP).

Lisa Dhar, Ph.D.
Senior Associate Director, Strategic Commercialization Issues, & Senior Technology Manager

Dr. Lisa Dhar contributes more than 15 years of business experience to the Office of Technology Management. Prior to joining the OTM, Lisa led a team at Lucent Technologies that developed new classes of polymer recording media for holographic storage. Her work at Lucent led her to become the co-founder and vice president of InPhase Technologies, a company spun out of Lucent. Lisa served on the National Academies' Assessment Panel on Materials Science and Engineering at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Lisa's portfolio focus is life sciences and healthcare.

Brad Edwards
Technology Manager

Brad Edwards joined the OTM in 2007 as a patent coordinator and joined the Technology  Manager team in 2012. Prior to joining the OTM, Brad served as a senior chemist and patent coordinator at Chemtura Corporation. He is a named inventor on six U.S. patents and is registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Brad's portfolio focus is agricultural, animal and crop sciences, food science and human nutrition, and veterinary medicine.

Nate Hoffman
Assistant Director, Strategic Commercialization Initiatives and Senior Technology Manager

Prior to joining the Office of Technology Management, Nate Hoffmann was a training specialist in the Cybersecurity Directorate at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). In that role, he helped design an experimental cyber crime first responder software system for local and regional law enforcement agencies. Nate is a United States Navy Veteran and served as a Nuclear Submarine Warfare Officer for seven years.

Nate's portfolio focus is material science and agricultural engineering.

RK Narayanan, Ph.D.
Associate Technology Manager

Dr. RK Narayanan has more than 10 years of experience in life sciences research, with expertise in oncology, neuroscience, genomics, and genetics. RK was a Research Scientist at Harvard, where he studied chemotherapy resistance mechanisms in glioblastoma. 

RK's portfolio focus is life sciences and healthcare.

Svetlana Sowers, Ph.D.
Senior Technology Manager

Dr. Svetlana Sowers brings to OTM 15 years of software development and management experience from both Fortune 500 and start-up companies.   At Yahoo!, Svetlana lead multiple projects and cross-functional teams to define and deliver products in the areas of cloud computing, data mining and data pipeline processing.  While at Motorola Mobile Devices, Svetlana ran a USB lab, driving interoperability testing with phone carriers, and managing a team of 30+ local and global engineers.

Svetlana's portfolio focus is software and copyright.

Jeff Wallace
Senior Technology Manager

Jeff Wallace comes to the Office of Technology Management with more than 20 years of experience in intellectual property management and technical sales and marketing. Jeff worked in the industrial gas business where he was focused on developing and bringing new technology solutions to customers within the automotive, chemical, electronics, food and beverage, healthcare, metals and pharmaceutical markets.  

Jeff's portfolio focus is engineering.

Steve Wille
Associate Director & Senior Technology Manager

Steve Wille worked in product development and manufacturing in chemical, medical and electronics companies for more than 28 years prior to joining the OTM. He is an inventor on seven patents and has authored several papers published in peer reviewed journals. In Steve's most recent prior position he was a section manager for hardware engineering at Siemens Medical Solutions, where he directed a staff of more than 50 engineers and managed several multinational projects. 

Steve's portfolio focus is bio-imaging, semiconductors, processes, materials, and devices.

Lisan Smith, Ph.D.
Technology Manager

Dr. Lisan Smith brings over 10 years of experience from academia and the pharmaceutical industry, including business development. Before joining OTM, Lisan worked as Director of Scientific Alliances for a Cambridge-based Biotech company and as a Business Development Manager for GenScript, an international biology and early discovery CRO, where she built productive relationships with pharmaceutical companies and academic labs. Lisan also served as Scientific Liaison for the TB Alliance in New York, where she got involved with TB drug research and development. She brings drug discovery experience from her time as a Senior Research Biologist in Neuroscientist Drug Development at Merck Research Laboratories, where she established external academic collaborations and managed the research activities of a biology team. Lisan completed her Ph.D. in Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University.

Lisan’s portfolio focus is life sciences and healthcare.

Professional Staff
Gregg Banninger
Patent Coordinator

Todd Creason
Business Manager

Tracy Hunter
Patent Office Manager

Eric Ives
Patent Coordinator

Heather Jones
Assistant to the Director & Office Administrator

Nicole Nair
Assistant Director for Marketing & Communications

Greg Nau
Financial Compliance Coordinator

Jane Reid
Paralegal Compliance Coordinator

Liz Schleef
Chief Clerk

Donna Wilm
Legal Office Manager

Sarah Craig
Commercialization Analyst
Carlos Duarte-Guevara
Lead Commercialization Analyst
Sarah Foster
Samantha Holt
Harini Iyer
Commercialization Analyst
Ismail Cem Kuru
Patent Fellow
Adi Makhija
Commercialization Analyst
Aileen Nolan
Fatimeh Pahlavan
Lead Commercialization Analyst
Zachary Scott
Commercialization Analyst
Sylvia Shen
Commercialization Analyst
Zach Wiersma
Commercialization Analyst