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Showcase Awards

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award


Recognizing scholars’ exemplary collaboration with the private sector

This award honors a faculty member whose scholarly contributions and associated outreach efforts have measurably and significantly improved lives through engagement with industry or other elements of the private sector.

Shulin Chen

Professor, Biological Systems Engineering

Shulin Chen’s technological innovations have made industrial processes more sustainable. Chen develops bioconversion processes and systems for the production of biofuel, bioenergy, and bioproducts. Using anaerobic digestion systems, his research team invented a process to convert manure and other dairy-industry waste to bioenergy. The systems reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They also recover nutrients from wastewater, alleviating concerns about surface and groundwater pollution. Six anaerobic digestion systems are now functioning throughout Washington. 

In another initiative, Chen produced biochemicals from organic waste using microbial “cell factories,” yeasts that synthesize target biochemicals using metabolic pathways. His team also developed a method for extracting high-value products from potato peels, a waste by-product of potato processing. His method turns phytochemical and nutrient-rich waste into a revenue stream. Chen holds ten U.S. patents for his innovations. He is widely recognized as a leader in his field.


Previous recipients

2021Joseph Harding
2020Kim Christen
2019Katrina L. Mealey
2018Juming Tang

Video of award winners