Posted: November 20, 2017

The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program congratulates and supports these E&I Showcase presenters on their discoveries, initiative, creativity, hard work and journey to commercialization. The Entrepreneurship & Innovation Showcase 2017 highlighted 11 groups of faculty, student and alumni innovators in the College of Agricultural Sciences. (Images by Sarah Giegerich)

The event was held Friday, Nov. 10, in the first-floor atrium of the Forest Resources Building, prior to an announcement of new major gifts that benefit the E&I Program.

A reception, including wines from Wayvine winery and vineyard, founded and led by Zach Wilson, a 2011 agribusiness major, followed the announcement.

Dr. Troy Ott, Professor of Reproductive Physiology, Associate Director of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Dr. Ott developed a simple blood test to determine whether a cow is carrying an embryo. He is commercializing dairy reproduction technology with PPK Animal Healthcare. Dr. Ott is a professor of reproductive physiology and Associate Director of the Huck Institutes of Life Sciences. More about this.

Dr. Jeffrey Catchmark, Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Director - Graduate Studies, Faculty Fellow, The Rock Ethics Institute

Dr. Catchmark is working to commercialize a patent-pending biofoam pad for wound and trauma care and a bio-film to replace plastic in food packaging. Dr. Catchmark, professor of agricultural and biological engineering, collaborates with Dr. Scott Armen, chief of the Division of Trauma, Acute Care and Critical Care Surgery at the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. They won an E&I RAIN grant in 2015 to help them commercialize the discovery.

Learn more.

Dr. Majid Foolad, Professor of Plant Genetics

Dr. Foolad, won a 2017 RAIN grant to commercialize new tomato varieties bred for Pennsylvania conditions. Dr. Foolad has successfully bred and commercialized tomatoes with disease resistance that are rich in lycopene, which may reduce risk of cancer, heart disease and age-related disorders.

He has collaborated with plant breeders at retailer Johnny's Selected Seeds on a new, high-lycopene tomato variety that is an AAS selection and appears in the Johnny's 2018 catalog.

Learn more.

Dr. Greg Ziegler, Professor of Food Sciences, Director of Graduate Studies

Dr. Ziegler discovered an extraction process for avocado pits that produces a bright orange, natural food coloring. Dr. Ziegler, chief scientist at Persea Naturals, has won a RAIN grant, participated in TechCelerator @State College, won $50,000 from invent Penn State Venture and IP Conference and received $75,000 in jumpstart funding from Invent Penn State's Fund for Innovation.

Persea Naturals' CEO Robert Hicks represented the company at the Showcase.

Learn more.

Dr. Kelli Hoover, Professor of Entomology, and Dr. John Janowiak, Professor of Wood Products

Dr. Hoover and Dr. Janowiak, discovered a patent-pending wood treatment chamber that kills destructive pest insects like emerald ash borer in wood used for pallets and other shipping components. They won a RAIN grant in 2017 to commercialize the technology.

Learn more.

Dr. Nina Jenkins, Research Associate, Entomology

Aprehend, an EPA-registered biopesticide developed by entomologist Dr. Nina Jenkins, has the potential to revolutionize the way that bedbug infestations are controlled. Based on a natural fungal disease of insects, Aprehend will soon be in the hands of professional pest controllers. Jenkins won a RAIN grant in 2013 to help commercialize the discovery.

Learn more about Aprehend.


The patented InterSeeder allows farmers to simultaneously fertilize a standing corn or soybean crop, spray herbicide and seed a cover crop. Agronomy graduate students Corey Dillon and Chris Houser working with advisors and professors Dr. Greg Roth and Dr. William Curran, won a RAIN grant, to help commercialize the new machine.

Learn more about InterSeeder.

WAYVINE winery and vineyard

Zach Wilson, a 2011 agribusiness management graduate, turned his family's former dairy farm in Nottingham, Pennsylvania into a thriving new family-run winery. He is the Chief Grape Wrangler at Wayvine. Guests tasted WAYVINE's wines at the celebration reception following the showcase. Learn more about Zach Wilson's vineyard.

Make It Happen

Meet our entrepreneurial students. Deanna Spaniel's blue and white potato chip concept won Ag Springboard in 2016. Her specialty potato chip company is ROYBIV, named for a variety of potato colors -- all except green. For the showcase, she joined the Make It Happen team: Monica Caldwell, Mike DeVito, Sarah Giegerich and Chris Zimmermann.

Learn more.

Bold Foods

Food science graduate students Weslie Khoo and Haoshu Zhang won Ag Springboard 2017 with their pitch for pasta fortified with cricket flour. Now, they are working on taste-tests and bringing their cricket pasta to market under their Bold Foods brand. Learn more.

Bold Foods is the company formed from the 2017 Ag Springboard winner, Pasta 2050 or "Cricket Pasta." Weslie Khoo, food science graduate student, founded the company, which is about producing pasta with cricket powder — as a sustainable source of protein.


As a plant science student, Hunter Swisher started Phospholutions using Penn State technology that reduces phosphorus run-off and makes plants stronger. Now, the startup is seeing strong sales growth in the golf course market. Swisher was an Ag Springboard finalist in 2016. Learn more.

Award-winning Food Product Development Teams

Food Science graduate student Ben Chrisfield's team created Snow White's Apple Delights, this year's grand prize winner in the Institute of Food Technologists Student Association's Disney Product Development Competition.

Food science undergrad students Taylor Thomas and Michael Zaffuto developed Fuzen, a dairy beverage that won the National Dairy Council's New Product Competition. Learn more.