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Personal NarrativeIn my youth I enjoyed mathematics, chemistry, physics, and biology. Growing up during the PC revolution, I did my fair share of experimentation including crashing a few systems. I also learned about the internet in the dark ages before the browser by simply dialing in. Taking this curiosity for science and technology, I matriculated at Rhodes College and studied chemistry. While at Rhodes College, I conducted artificial intelligence research through the psychology department and also entered into the service of the Cognitive Science Lab at the University of Memphis. Upon graduating with a bachelor of science degree from Rhodes College, I decided to continue the research I had come to enjoy by entering the master of psychology program at the University of Memphis. While there, working on multimillion projects such as AutoTutor, HURAA, and Coh-Metirx, I published and presented papers on discourse processing, intelligent tutoring, and artificial intelligence. With a proven track record in conducting studies and developing technology tools, I became the Associate Director of the Institute for Intelligent Systems (IIS). The IIS is State of Tennessee recognized organization of approximately one hundred faculty, staff, and students conducting artificial intelligence research with approximately $1-2M a year in funding from such sources as the National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency among others. At the Institute for Intelligent Systems, I primarily focused on external relations through the cultivation of outreach programs and research monies from businesses and other agencies.
Shortly thereafter, I was asked to co-found and co-direct the Advanced Distributed Learning Workforce Co-Lab (while continuing my post at the Institute for Intelligent Systems). There I helped to grow the Co-Lab from an idea into a reality with agreements from the US Department of Defense. Starting with nothing, the staff grew to seven, and under my guidance, we collectively organized and executed a program of activities, procured initial funds, space, and resources in excess of $200,000, and submitted competitive solicitations in excess of $1.5M with approximately $500,000 landing soon after my departure.
When the FedEx Institute of Technology opened in November of 2003, I was recruited to become the Assistant Director of Research Development and later became the Associate Director of Corporate Research and Development. By bridging the gap between industry and academic research, I supported a research portfolio of over $8M annually and administered funds in excess of $3M to expand research at the Institute. In the 12 months prior to my departure, I worked closely with corporations and other partners to obtain over $1.5M and directed those funds toward new Research and Development (R & D) efforts, fellowship posts, and in-residence programs, as well as developing and commercializing new materials. As a result, I founded and developed award winning and publicly covered research centers and projects in robotics, lighting design, nanosensors, multimedia arts, healthcare technologies, and sustainable design. When I spearheaded and organized publicity, marketing, and communications efforts in the 18 months leading up to my departure, the FedEx Institute's work had been covered by over 80 print and other mediums (radio, web, and TV) in local, national, and international outlets including the Today Show, G4, BBC, Al-Jazeera, Mumbai Mirror, Agence France Presse, Yahoo News UK, AOL.com, Sydney Morning Herald among many others.
While at the FedEx Institute of Technology, I worked to stimulate technology transfer by organizing the Mid-South's first business plan competition. Furthermore, I cemented relationships with the regional incubator (EmergeMemphis), outside corporations, intellectual property attorneys, and capital groups to focus on technology commercialization. During this time period I found that while both the technologies and talent were great, there were only a handful of new technology-based start-ups coming from the academic institutions of the Mid-South region of the United States.
Seeing a market need, I left the FedEx Institute of Technology to co-found Mercury Technology Labs. Mercury Technology Labs is an innovation connector and venture creation company that takes raw research technologies and talent from corporate and academic research labs, invests business expertise and capital, and starts new technology-based businesses. By pioneering a new business model for seed-stage business development in Mid-South United States, we have a portfolio of 6 companies in various stages of start-up. Furthermore, we have agreements to externally commercialize technologies from the R & D labs of a Fortune Global 200 Company and a national university. Mercury was recently covered in the Financial Times and other news outlets, and we continue to grow for the benefit of our partners, investors, and regional economy.
As a serial entrepreneur, I am also engaged with other firms including ShareCastle, Tee Box Marketing and Distribution, International Consulting Partners, and National Custom Hollow Metal. Charitably, I am chairman of the board of Lantana Projects (501c3) and also sit on the school board of Incarnation Catholic School in Collierville, TN. I am an Eagle Scout and I completed a master of cognitive psychology degree at the University of Memphis along the way. I have been quoted in over 50 international, national, and local media outlets on technology and business topics. I completed the Leadership Academy's Fellows program and I was recently recognized as one of the Top 40 Under 40 by the Memphis Business Journal, which recognizes young professionals in the Mid-South United States.