Academic focus: Innovation & entrepreneurship
Research summary: I focus on reducing barriers to the commercialization of science and technology, which I experienced firsthand during a decade as an executive and engineer at two startups in the speech-recognition industry. My work on employee non-compete agreements and job mobility played a key role in policy reforms for Hawaii and Massachusetts.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Mostly I like to bike. I’ve done about 13,000 miles on two wheels and look forward to circling Lake Cayuga and Lake Seneca — hopefully in the same day!
What are your current outreach/extension projects?
I’ve spent the past couple of years building a comprehensive set of citations from worldwide patents to scientific articles all the way back to the 1800s. The ability to link patents to scientific articles helps us to understand the heritage of innovation and the intersection between “open science” and commercialization.
I open-sourced this database called Reliance on Science in Patenting in 2019. It has been downloaded more than 30,000 times by researchers across the globe. My hope is that publicly-available patent citations to science will fuel research on innovation, knowledge diffusion, technology commercialization and other topics.
What brought you to Cornell?
Cornell is quite interdisciplinary, which is a great fit for me as I have published in a variety of fields including sociology, economics, management, finance, public policy, human-computer interaction and the sciences. I very much look forward to working with a broad set of scholars across the various colleges on campus.
Why did you feel inspired to pursue a career in this field?
Before returning to academia, I spent a decade with a couple of startup companies commercializing speech-recognition technology. Both of them went on to be successful, so I was asking myself, what next? I decided I wanted to research principles that would help a wide range of new ventures, and also work hands-on with students who are considering founding their own startup.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered about Ithaca so far?
One thing I really love about Ithaca is the sunsets over the lake. They are simply magnificent!
Ithaca Airport has also been a most pleasant surprise. It is sparkling new and incredibly convenient. With daily Delta flights to their hub in Detroit, I can get most anywhere I want to go quite quickly.
If you had unlimited grant funding, what major problem in your field would you want to solve?
Hundreds of researchers study innovation and entrepreneurship, but our efforts are uncoordinated especially when it comes to data. Unlike the life sciences, where repositories like GenBank serve as a public repository for what has been studied, scores of scholars re-invent the wheel when it comes to datasets of patenting, academic articles, entrepreneurial ventures and so on. Key datasets are proprietary, expensive and often shared among elite professional networks, which locks out PhD students and professors from less elite institutions, reinforcing existing inequities.
With unlimited grant funding, I would extend the work I have done at relianceonscience.org to curate other key datasets needed by innovation and entrepreneurship researchers, and to make the available in a user-friendly fashion with extensive training materials and programs.
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