Seven UNI faculty advance research following Intellectual Property and Innovation Disclosure Competition II

Seven UNI faculty advance research following Intellectual Property and Innovation Disclosure Competition II

Seven innovative ideas by University of Northern Iowa faculty won a cash prize and university support to move forward with their research.

The winners of the Intellectual Property (IP) and Innovation Disclosure Competition II responded to the call in fall of 2023 for proposals, and their ideas are recognized as having potential for new scholarship or extending existing scholarship projects that show promise or commercial potential.

Each innovator submitted ideas in their respective areas of academia and were notified that they each won a $500 prize and additional support from the university to move forward with the following projects:

Terence Moriarty

  • Terence Moriarty, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Physical Education
    Moriarty has explored the use of virtual reality for exercise and improved cognitive functioning. This technology is of particular interest for people engaged in therapy for a variety of conditions, including breaking free of addiction.

Semyon Drozdetckii

  • Semyon Drozdetckii, Program Assistant in the Department of Geography
    Most of today’s maps focus on distance relationships, but time is another measurement that may define a space and one that depends on the mode of transportation available. Drozdetckii is working on maps based on indigenous people’s perceptions of space, focusing his attention on maps based on parameters other than distance.

Xinhua "Cindy" Shen

  • Xinhua (Cindy) Shen, Associate Professor of Environmental Science
    Shen is utilizing the Internet of Things and AI to develop a smart agriculture system. This involves deploying advanced sensors in agricultural fields to monitor soil conditions and plant health. Smart agriculture uses real-time data to help guide farmers in optimizing crop yields while reducing resource utilization.

Beth Dykstra VanMeeteren

  • Beth Dykstra VanMeeteren, Associate Professor of Literacy Education and Director of the Regents' Center for Early Developmental Education
    Weight distribution and symmetry is varied by the child. Dykstra VanMeeteren is working on the development of a set of learning tools and table-top prototypes for preschool through second grade for children to explore balance and symmetrical distribution of weight.

Taraneh Haghanikar

  • Taraneh Haghanikar, Associate Professor of Literacy Education
    Haghanikar’s new proposal involves an online system that allows users to create their own narration of a story through custom-made characters, actions, emotions, scenes, dialogues, music, sound effects, and plots. Partnering with the University of Chicago’s Data Clinic, the outcome will be an AI-equipped demonstration of the emotional patterns of characters in award-winning multicultural fiction books.

Nichole Harkin

  • Nichole Harken, Assistant Professor of Instruction and Internship Director & Co-Director of Cornerstone
    Making the transition into the “real world” involves many factors beyond simply knowledge of a discipline. This is why Harken plans to work on the development of programs that will help students in making the transition from student to post-graduate, working in their first job or professional program.

Thomas Hockey

  • Thomas Hockey, Professor of Astronomy
    This proposal takes Hockey out of his discipline and into an interesting area of Public Health. He will explore whether there is any link between patient response to the mRNA vaccines for COVID and history of vaccination or disease survival with regard to mumps, measles, chicken pox and/or rubella.

“This year’s winners demonstrate how many innovative faculty we have from all parts of the university,” said Bill Harwood, science and technology officer and head of the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department at UNI. “The university has support to develop the commercial potential for these and other innovations. The 2024 competition will be in the fall, and the IP team is excited about where we’ve been and what is developing with the current winners. We are already looking forward to what innovations the fall competition will bring forward.”

UNI is committed to encouraging, facilitating and promoting the development of patentable or copyrightable intellectual property and know-how to benefit the inventor, UNI’s educational mission, the industry and the people of Iowa. 

The third disclosure competition will take place in the fall of 2024. For more information or to learn about intellectual property at UNI, visit