Updates and Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Skip to main content

KNOXVILLE — Two University of Tennessee researchers were honored Thursday for developing nondestructive ways to decontaminate fragile materials and for creating a method to improve how metal surfaces wear.

Dr. Kimberly Kelly-Wintenberg

Drs. Kimberly Kelly-Wintenberg and Mary Helen McCay received the 2002 B. Otto and Kathleen Wheeley Award for excellence in technology transfer at a luncheon at the University Club. The award is given to the researcher who has demonstrated distinction in commercializing new technologies developed in UT laboratories.

“Our honorees are demonstrating that research in UT labs can be transferred directly into the marketplace,” said Dr. Billie Collier, UT interim associate dean of research. “Both McCay and Kelly-Wintenberg are doing work that has dramatic potential to improve our quality of life and boost the region’s economy.”

Michael Crabtree, the head of IdleAire Technologies Corp., spoke at the luncheon. Crabtree, who holds graduate degrees in electrical engineering and business administration from UT, has been a principal in a number of prominent startup technology companies, including CTI Molecular Imaging, U.S. Internet, and IdleAire.

Kelly-Wintenberg, who does research in microbiology and food safety at UT, is president and CEO of Atmospheric Glow Technologies, a firm that is developing commercial applications for One Atmosphere Uniform Glow Discharge Plasma. The plasma technology, created by UT electrical engineering professor Dr. Reece Roth and the UT Plasma Sciences Laboratory, can be used to decontaminate and sterilize equipment without damage from excessive heat and pressure. Roth won the Wheeley award in 1999 for inventing the technology. AGT was honored by the Small Business Administration in 2001 and was on R&D Magazine’s list of the top 100 technologies for 2002.

Dr. Mary Helen McCay

McCay, UT professor of engineering science and mechanics, has developed methods of improving the durability of surfaces by using lasers to coat and harden them. The technology, laser induced surface improvement, was developed at the UT Space Institute’s Center for Laser Applications, which she heads. A manufacturer of trailer hitches is using the method to improve its products, and other commercializations are under way.

Otto Wheeley, who endowed the award to encourage academic entrepreneurship, is a graduate of UT’s chemical engineering department. He worked for the Koppers Co., where he became senior vice president and deputy chairman of the company and president and CEO of its venture capital subsidiary, Kopvenco. The award has been given five times since 1990.