Committee narrows field for research director

Abbie Moeller

Selection committees will soon decide which of three finalists will receive the position of director of the Iowa State University Research Foundation and the Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer.

The director oversees the operations of professional staff and controls the acquisition and management of technology transfer and intellectual property, said Patricia Swan, vice provost for research and advanced studies.

Swan defined intellectual property as the “product of inventive minds.” She said intellectual property is a very in-depth and allusive term, but includes patents, copyrights and trade secrets.

Because of the joint nature of the position, two separate organizations are collaborating in the selection process. The OIPTT is a university office and has a selection committee, while the ISURF is a separate foundation with a board of directors that must approve the candidate.

These two groups will work together to select the new director, Swan said. She also said she will need to have “lots of communication with lots of people” to obtain opinions and feelings.

Swan said that although no specific education requirements for the ISURF/OIPTT director exist, the candidate must be experienced in the area of management and distribution of intellectual property at a research university.

The three finalists recently held open forums at the Memorial Union to give an idea of their strengths and experience.

Ken Kirkland visited ISU on May 7, 1998. Kirkland has worked on both sides of technology transfer, both in industry and with universities. He is currently employed at Northern Illinois University but has experience with corporations both in the United States and overseas.

Kirkland said he thinks the position would be a “tremendous challenge.”

Walter Haeussler is currently employed at Cornell University, where he expanded the technology transfer program from a small program of two people to a program similar to the one at Iowa State. Haeussler said he would like to learn from his successes and failures at Cornell and do even better at ISU.

Both Kirkland and Haeussler seemed very interested in ISU and very impressed with the technology transfer, the staff and faculty and the university as a whole.

Kirkland said he holds ISU in very high regard for the technology and the supportive attitude of the university.

Haeussler also said he thinks ISU has a world-class faculty that is developing technology, especially in agriculture and in the physical sciences research at Ames Laboratory.

The third candidate, Lawrence Kennedy, could not be reached for comment. According to a press release, Kennedy has worked with several animal health agencies. There, he dealt with the licensing of technology, commercial agreements and acquisitions with third-party technology partners.

Allen Paau, director of ISURF/OIPTT since 1994, left ISU to take a similar position at the University of California, San Diego.