Ph.D. candidate Jorge Castellanos truly exemplifies the goals of our program. Jorge is a dedicated researcher with a strong fundamental background and is developing the skills to apply this knowledge.
Jorge recently excelled in the I-Corps training offered by the Georgia Tech Venture Labs held from January – March 2015, which was organized by Grupo Guayacan and the Puerto Rico Science Research and Technology Trust (PR-STRT). The I-Corps program is an extremely demanding and thorough course that connects researchers with entrepreneurial and business communities to create a stronger ecosystem for innovation. I-corps seeks to transform scientific and engineering discoveries into useful products and services.
Jorge presented his group’s idea for a sensor that could potentially be applied to biological substances several times during the course. The group comprised Dr. Nilka M. Rivera, PhD graduate student José Robles and Dr. Samuel P. Hernández. Jorge obtained his B.S. in Biomolecular Science with a concentration in Chemistry from Polytechnic Institute of New York University in 2010 and came to our University as an REU student in 2009. Jorge is performing his Ph.D research in Dr. Samuel P. Hernández lab in sensors development for biologicals detection with an emphasis on laser textured surfaces that can be used to enhance spectroscopic signals at trace quantities.
Jorge recently indicated: “The I-Corps program was an exemplary and unique course that brought together both research and business. I felt I had an advantage coming out of the short but rigorous course since I learned the customer discovery method which will keep you grounded until you can truly identify who’s in need of your product before it’s even developed and made tangible. This is especially important for scientists who normally find applications of their research but don’t get to explore its commercialization potential. Understanding where the product need lies and who truly requires it greatly improves its likelihood for implementation and commercial success. We were challenged to “go out there, get out of the building” and learn as much about our customer as possible. Since our product idea served the health industry, we interviewed the general public starting with the student body at UPRM, from there we went on to interview doctors and cancer patients at the American Cancer Society (ACS) office in Mayaguez. With each interview we could rule out who wasn’t as much in need of our product and even at the end of the program we had not identified the customer. This was a crucial success in that it spared us the time and wasted effort that would’ve been had we focused on our initial target customers. Following the business model canvas really simplified the process and is an excellent starting point for entrepreneurs. I feel all students involved in research, especially graduate students from all STEM fields would benefit from this course immensely and as such introducing it into our Chemistry department will raise our level of competence worldwide.”