Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
Feb. 6, 1998

Banquet is the ultimate 'invention convention'

by Skip Derra

More than 100 current and past Iowa State scientists who invented commercial products or processes were honored at a banquet Jan. 31. It was the first such gathering of ISU inventors.

The group is responsible for a range of technologies, including a method for making blue cheese salad dressing, an encoding process for fax machines, healthier cooking oil and an environmentally friendly lawn herbicide.

"We wanted to provide a night of recognition for the people who worked tirelessly to take an idea in the lab and make a useful product out of it," said Patricia Swan, vice provost for research. "The work of these people is helping diversify Iowa's economy and make the nation a stronger economic entity."

The products go back to 1940, with the commercial introduction of a process to make Maytag blue cheese dressing (developed by C.D. Lane and B.W. Hammer), and up to the present with the recently marketed LoSatSoy, a healthier cooking oil from soybeans (developed by Walter Fehr and Earl Hammond).

Iowa State's 1997 R&D 100 Award winners -- Ed Yeung, Robert Brown and David Waller, and the team of Bill McCallum, Kevin Dennis, Matthew Kramer and Daniel Branagan -- received special recognition during the banquet. R&D Magazine annually honors the top 100 products of technological significance marketed or licensed during the previous year.

Since 1984, Iowa State and the Ames Laboratory have won 18 of these prestigious awards, ranking ISU second among universities in number of awards.

Of the 80 Iowa State inventions cited during the evening, one stands out in royalties earned. An encoding process developed by David Nicholas in 1971, when he was a student at Iowa State, was successfully transferred to a class of fax machines. Dramatically shortening the time for transmitting faxes, the process has earned ISU $36 million in royalties.

Other inventors honored were those who developed vaccines to control kennel cough in dogs and atrophic rhinitis in swine (William Switzer and Daniel Farrington), a glass fiber that simplifies laser surgical procedures (Steve Martin and Abdel Soufiane) and a lawn herbicide made from corn gluten (Nick Christians).

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