Grossman Prize Will Support Environmentally Beneficial Technology

DismukesCharles Dismukes, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and research director at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology, has received the inaugural Grossman Innovation Prize from the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS).

The prize, made possible through a gift from Rutgers University alumnus Alan Grossman, provides financial support over a one-year period to faculty members developing innovative ideas with commercial potential. The support allows recipients to develop their work to the proof-of-concept stage, when they would be eligible for venture capital funding and/or spin-off as an independent businesses.

A distinctive feature of the prize is that undergraduates will be involved in the research and development process.

Thirteen proposals were submitted, ranging from sophisticated robotic systems to innovations in wound care to novel technologies for environmental remediation. Three teams were selected to present at a Shark Tank style pitch meeting to the review committee, which consisted of Arts and Sciences faculty, representatives from the Rutgers Office of Research Commercialization (ORC), and SAS alumni with industry perspective.

The results were announced by Executive Vice Dean James Masschaele.

“I never cease to be amazed by the creativity of our faculty and their commitment to making the world a better place, as is clearly evident in the work of Professor Dismukes,” Masschaele said.

Dismukes’ winning proposal involves the development of catalysts that use electricity to convert carbon dioxide and water into plastic precursors and other complex organic chemicals with high specificity and yield. The process is net carbon negative, uses less power than extraction from petroleum sources, makes molecules not available from petroleum, and is environmentally beneficial as it produces oxygen as its only byproduct.This technology was developed in cooperation with research associate Anders Laursen and graduate student Karin Calvinho. It has previously been supported from ORC’s Tech Advance Fund, and the business plan developed in conjunction with the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps market discovery program.

Dismukes is a Distinguished Professor with more than 30 years of experience in inorganic materials characterization, catalyst design, enzymology, and electrochemistry.

“Our recent discovery of energy efficient and highly selective electrochemical CO2 conversion is a step in achieving a truly closed-loop carbon economy based on recycling CO2,” Dismukes said. “The Grossman Prize will allow us to mentor Rutgers undergraduates to advance this technology and to carry the message of this promising new approach more broadly to students and the public.”


The Grossman Innovation Prize was made possible by a generous donation from Rutgers alumnus Alan Grossman. Mr. Grossman received his BS in Computer Sciences (with Honors) from Livingston College, Rutgers University and went on to complete an MS in Computer Sciences from Stevens Institute of Technology. He had a distinguished 25 year career in the telecommunications industry.