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Contact: Tom Parisi, NIU Office of Public Affairs
March 19, 2008
DeKalb, Ill. — Rita Yusko, formerly a research development officer with Sponsored Projects at Northern Illinois University, has been named acting manager of the university's Technology Transfer Office.
Yusko assumed the new post Feb. 1.
Prior to coming to NIU in early 2007, she had worked as a technology commercialization specialist, collaborating with researchers from the likes of NASA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Yusko replaces Gail Mitchell, assistant vice president for technology development and transfer, who retired earlier this year.
The Technology Transfer Office encourages and nurtures the development, disclosure and protection of university intellectual property. The office also works to promote and market university intellectual property to industry and increase awareness of NIU research capabilities.
“I'm thrilled to be working in tech transfer for NIU,” Yusko said. “This office plays a lead role in protecting faculty and university knowledge and successfully promoting future research. My experience allows me to effectively arch between the university setting and commercial marketplace.”
Yusko holds a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Cleveland State University and an MBA from Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio.
She began her career as an engineer and project manager and later worked as business development manager for a national consulting firm headquartered in Cleveland. Before coming to NIU, she spent seven years as a consultant and technology commercialization specialist with Battelle Memorial Institute's branch office at the DuPage National Technology Park in West Chicago.
An international science and technology enterprise, Battelle explores emerging areas of science, develops and commercializes technology, and manages laboratories for customers, including the U.S. government.
Yusko forged links between government research labs and Illinois companies, big and small. She also provided technology transfer and commercialization services on five federally funded programs managed by Battelle. Those programs included the NASA Illinois Commercialization Center and the Environmental Technology Commercialization Center funded by the U.S. EPA.
While at Battelle, Yusko worked frequently alongside university scientists. At NIU, she helped faculty in College of Engineering locate grant funding and prepare proposals.
“Rita has the right experience for this position and is very good at what she does,” said Rathindra Bose, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School.
“She has been involved in technology transfer with both public research enterprises and private companies,” Bose added. “And having worked with university researchers, Rita really has an appreciation for faculty-generated intellectual properties. She knows how to transfer innovation from university to marketplace.”
Yusko also knows where to look for innovation.
“The opportunities are all around us,” she said. “Most tech developments are hidden in the simple and practical streamlining of certain processes.”
She hopes to make faculty more familiar with the crucial steps involved in taking an invention or innovation from a concept to the marketplace.
“One of my goals is to remove the veil of mystery from the process of patenting or protecting intellectual knowhow and invention,” Yusko said. “The procedures and legal aspects can appear daunting, but I want to help faculty members become comfortable with the process and help them understand why it's important to protect their innovations—even prior to publication.
“We're here to assist them, and we have their best interests in mind,” she added. “Members of the NIU faculty are my true clients.”
Yusko and her husband David live in St. Charles. They have two sons attending college and a daughter in eighth grade.