Rene Baston
Executive Director
Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub
Columbia University
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René has over 20 years of experience in innovation strategy, business development, economic development, technology commercialization, and venture startup. He is an instructor of the lean startup methodology for National Science Foundation entrepreneurs via its Innovation Corps program, and is a member of the External Board of Advisors for the Columbia University Center for Advanced Information Management.

René has applied lean principles directly as the co-founder of 3 startups – REAL, a B2B cloud-based marketing analytics company transforming marketing and e-commerce at the intersection of recommendation technologies and neuropsychology; HVBio, employing biotechnology and self-assembly methods to enable single-walled carbon nanotube devices, and Medihub, an early Health IT company.

He has also served as the Director of Industry Interactions and Entrepreneurship at the Columbia University Institute for Data Science and Engineering (IDSE), where his role was to cultivate relationships with industry partners and develop the Institute’s entrepreneurial ecosystem while integrating it with Columbia’s, the City’s, and beyond. Prior to the IDSE, René was the Chief Business Officer at the New York Academy of Sciences, where he ran NYAS’ domestic and international business and economic development initiatives; and an Associate Director at Columbia’s Science & Technology Ventures, one of the world’s leading academic technology commercialization organizations. René also spent several years performing neurobiology research in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate, Eric Kandel, at the Columbia University Center for Neurobiology and Behavior. He earned both his Master’s in Biomedical Informatics and his B.A. from Columbia University.

Marom Bikson
Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering
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Marom Bikson is a Cattell Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the City College of New York (CCNY) of the City University of New York (CUNY) and codirector of the Neural Engineering Group at the New York Center for Biomedical Engineering. Bikson has published over 200 papers and book chapters and is inventor on over 30 patent applications. He is known for his work on brain targeting with electrical stimulation, cellular physiology of electric effects, and electrical safety. Bikson co-invented High-Definition transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (HD-tDCS), the first noninvasive, targeted, and low-intensity neuromodulation technology. He consults for medical technology companies and regulatory agencies on the design, validation, and certification of medical instrumentation. Bikson is cofounder of Soterix Medical Inc. and WiPOX LLC, both CUNY startups. Marom Bikson received a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, and a B.S. in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.

John Blaho
Director, Industrial-Academic Research
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John A. Blaho, Ph.D. is the CUNY Director for Industrial-Academic Research.  He was responsible for significantly increasing industry-sponsored research activities between industrial entities and CUNY research faculty during 2010-2012 and is currently working to increase the amount of faculty entrepreneurial activities.  Dr. Blaho was trained as a chemical engineer, received his Ph.D. in biochemistry, and was the PI of an academic research lab at the University of Chicago and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine for over 25 years.  Subsequently, he served a CSO function at a biotech company in Princeton, NJ – in this Executive industrial position, he was also responsible for expanding the business through development of key partnerships and creating new investment opportunities.  Since joining CUNY, he has led the creation of two new NSF IUCRC centers at the City College of CUNY and has served as the Industrial Mentor for 3 CUNY NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) teams – all three subsequently formed NYS companies and are currently supported by non-diluted investment seed funding, including NSF SBIR/STTR grants.  Dr. Blaho led the creation of and serves as the Training Director and coPI of the NYC Regional Innovation NSF I-Corps Node (NYCRIN).  Finally, Dr. Blaho is the lead of the CUNY Innovation Hot Spot for the NYC Regional Economic Development Council of Empire State Development.

Zeev Dagan
Director, Entrepreneurial Research Initiatives
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Affiliated with CCNY since 1983, Dr. Dagan had served as Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost from 1999 until 2010. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Dagan served as a Deputy Provost (1997), Associate Dean in the School of Engineering (1993), and Chairman of the Department of Mechanical Engineering (1990).

As a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Dagan received the Pi Tau Sigma Teacher of the Year Award in 1990, and directed a major institutional National Science Foundation grant designed to improve engineering education and attract more underrepresented students to the field. His research areas were Low Reynolds Number Hydrodynamics, Interfacial Phenomena, and Heat Transfer. He is the author and co-author of forty scientific articles, and had given numerous presentations at conferences of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Society of Engineering Education, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

As Provost, Dr. Dagan had focused his efforts on improving the quality of the academic programs and enhancing the reputation and visibility of CCNY. To this end, he had emphasized the recruitment and support of excellent faculty, and increasing the recruitment of qualified and high achieving students. During his tenure enrollment increased from 11,000 to 16,300 students, and external research funding from $28 million to $69 million.

In 2011, Dr. Dagan was appointed Executive Director of Entrepreneurial Research Initiatives at The City University of New York. He is the current Director of the CUNY Hub.

Tristan Bel
Executive Director, NYDesigns
LaGuardia Community College
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As Executive Director, Tristan designs and leads the overarching strategy for NYDesigns as well as manages the team in the day-to-day operations of the organization.

Tristan has spearheaded the creation and development of product lines and the building of operations for startups and non-profit organizations in the technology and wellness/sustainability industries for over 12 years. He is recognized for his strong business acumen and for his ability to lead teams to excel consistently in a poised and happy environment.

Tristan has a MEng in Industrial Engineering from Ecole Centrale de Marseille (Grande Ecole), and a MSc in Competitive Intelligence from the Universite de St Jerome.

When he is not helping build the future of entrepreneurship, Tristan dances Argentine tango or treks in places beyond the end of the road.

Delaram Kahrobaei
Professor, Mathematics
New York City College of Technology & The Graduate Center
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DELARAM KAHROBAEI is an Associate Professor at the City University of New York. She has a joint appointment at CUNY Graduate Center in the PhD program in Computer Science and at New York City College of Technology (CUNY) in the Mathematics Department. Her main research area is Information Security, Cryptography, Computational and Combinatorial Group Theory. Her research has been partially supported by grants from the Office of Naval Research ($900K), Association of Advancement in Sciences (AAAS), National Science Foundation, Research Foundation of CUNY, City Tech Foundation, London Mathematical Society, Edinburgh Mathematical Society, Swiss national Foundation. Delaram is the director of C-LAC, Center for Logic, Algebra and Computation. She is a member of Data Science @ CUNY’s Faculty Advisory Board. She also serves on the Advisory Committee for the CUNY Hub for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Alan Lyons
Professor, Chemistry
College of Staten Island
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Alan Lyons is a Professor of Chemistry at the College of Staten Island and Graduate Center of the City University of New York.  He is also co-founder and CTO of ARL Designs LLC, a small business that develops high performance, low-cost superhydrophobic surfaces that has received SBIR Phase I and Phase II awards from NSF.  Prior to joining CUNY, Dr. Lyons worked at Bell Laboratories for over 25 years where he was a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff.   Dr. Lyons has authored over 40 refereed publications and 34 issued US patents.   His research is focused on the effect of morphology and surface chemistry on the wetting, thermal, optical and catalytic properties of materials.

Christopher Reim
Managing Director
Community Development Venture Capital Alliance
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CHRISTOPHER REIM brings a blend of private sector and public policy thought leadership to innovation and investment for growth. He focuses on job creation, economic opportunity and social impact through his work at the Community Development Venture Capital Alliance. Working with state and private funds, he leads the Innovate NY Fund, LP, targeting growth through technology entrepreneurship across the state. He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University (SIPA). He holds an MPA in Economic Policy from Columbia University (SIPA), an MBA in Finance from the University of Colorado, and a BS in Economics from the Pennsylvania State University.

Stuart Schulman
Professor, Management
Baruch College
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Professor Schulman has served as Department Chair at Baruch College, and senior administrator in CUNY and has been the Founding Academic Director of the undergraduate and graduate Online Business degrees at the CUNY School of Professional Studies and Co-founded the CUNY Center for Student Entrepreneurship and presently serves as its Academic Director.

He has helped develop and expand the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) Travel Service into a global organization and has “ghosted” many columns in “Modern Maturity” magazine. He was a founding member of the iconic “I Love New York” advertising and marketing campaign. He is a serial entrepreneur with start-ups including Airlines, marketing/advertising firms as well as global youth service and consulting companies.

He is also the founder of the CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise (IVE). IVE provides programs, courses, workshops, competitions and supporting activities in Business, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Financial Literacy and Sustainable Development. IVE, through its simulated economy serves more than 120 colleges and universities representing 6,000 students annually. a. He has also founded the Center for Economic and Workforce Development at Kingsborough Community College, founded the SmartPitch Competition, and currently serves as the Director of Development and Sponsored Research at the Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship at Baruch College-CUNY and is a Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship at Baruch College.

He is currently engaged in the planning for a National Center for the Technology Enabled Entrepreneur, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). He has written many scholarly articles and reviews and presented at scores of professional conferences.

Legal Advisor to the Committee

Jane Davis
Senior Counsel
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Jane E. Davis, Esq. is Senior Counsel in the Office of General Counsel of The City University of New York.  Her practice includes advising CUNY clients on corporate and commercial matters and not-for-profit law, as well as on intellectual property and research issues.   She received her J.D. from New York University Law School.