Inaugural Women Innovator Awards

The Center for Technology Licensing at Cornell University (CTL) is proud to announce the launch of the Inaugural Women Innovator Awards, a celebration of Cornell women innovators for their contributions to innovation and commercialization.

Inaugural Women Innovator Awards Banner

The inaugural event took place on June 1, 2022, during a ceremony held simultaneously at the Statler Hotel Ballroom in Ithaca and the Griffis Faculty Club at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. Watch the Livestream recording here.

Award Categories:

1. Barbara McClintock Women Innovator Award (one awardee, $10,000*)
Established to celebrate Cornell Women Innovators whose outstanding inventions have made a tangible impact in society through commercialization or new ventures.

The award has been named after The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Cornell alumna Barbara McClintock, Ph.D. Dr. McClintock was a visionary scientist best known for her discovery of genetic transposition, which challenged existing paradigms in genetics at the time. She won the Nobel Prize in 1983, 35 years after publishing her first paper on transposition. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize as a sole recipient.

The 2022 Barbara McClintock Women Innovator Award was presented to Sheila Nirenberg, Ph.D., the Nanette Laitman Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College. Her patent portfolio is amongst the largest that Cornell manages. She co-founded two companies, Bionic Sight, a technology that combines gene therapy with a prosthetic device to restore sight in patients with retinal degeneration; and Nirenberg Neurosciences, recently acquired by Intel.

2. Rising Women Innovator Awards (two awardees, $3,000*)
Established to recognize Cornell women inventors whose inventions are at early stages of commercialization and are promising for future impact.

The 2022 Rising Women Innovator Awards were presented to:

  • Alexa Schmitz, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Biological and Environmental Engineering department. She works in the lab of Dr. Buz Barstow, Assistant Professor, where she engineers microbes to extract rare earth elements (REE) out of rocks by using organic acids, a process called ‘photoleaching.’ As a result of her research, she founded the company REEgen, Inc.


Eligibility poster for Women Innovator Awards

*Award prizes will be donated in honor of the Awardee to a program of her choice that promotes innovation and inclusion.

CTL reiterates the continued support of women innovators at Cornell University. Learn more about Cornell women developing their technologies and taking them to the next level of commercialization on this poster showcase presented during the event.