Doctoral candidates earn spot in NASA’s ‘Ignite the Night’ Event

A pair of Louisiana Tech students have been selected to compete in “Ignite the Night,” a virtual event by NASA’s iTech team that invites innovators and enthusiasts to meet NASA, learn more about its iTech program, and present an idea on stage to an esteemed panel of NASA’s Center Chief Technologists, industry experts, and investors.

stock photo of computerThe Tech pitch is one of only 10 finalists selected.

The event is Wednesday, April 22. Tech submitted a proposal and was chosen to be part of the competition that NASA designed to create another opportunity for the agency to connect with innovators and enthusiasts directly. For Tech, this represents a public forum where significant research being conducted by investigators can receive national attention.

AJ McFarland and Chris Miller recently developed antimicrobial/antiviral medical textile that can be used for filtration of the air as well as used in N95 masks; these masks are what medical staffs are wearing to protect them from Covid-19. Miller will make the actual presentation.

Both McFarland and Miller are Texas natives, research students, and doctoral candidates in Molecular Science and Nanotechnology (MSNT) in Tech’s BioMorph Lab directed by professor Dr. David Mills.

Miller is Director of Research for Mills’ business enterprise, organicNANO.

“We are very much honored,” Mills said, “to be among the first 10 companies to be involved in this Pitch Competition.”

One pitch of the 10 will be selected to move on to the final competition.

You can watch Miller’s presentation live from 2-4 p.m. Wednesday on the NASA iTech livestream

Miller participated in an orientation, interview, and training session with NASA Wednesday and was both motivated and encouraged by the dialogue with Dr. Ramona Travis, the Chief Technologist for the NASA Stennis Space Center (SSC), as well as the interaction with several other NASA staff members, entrepreneurs, and fellow competitors.

“My family, friends, and love for science inspire me discover a world where positive change can come from anywhere and at any time,” Miller said. “I would like to thank all of those who have encouraged me to continue pursing my passion of changing the way we live.”

At this winter’s Won in One idea pitch competition presented by the University’s Technology Business Development Center (TBDC), McFarland won first place for Organic Nano, an antimicrobial filament for 3D printing. Miller won both third place and People’s Choice for Hemosite Hemostatic Gauze, a metalized Halloysite nanotube used to enhance wound healing, prevent infection, and regenerate different tissues more efficiently.

NASA iTech identifies and searches for cutting-edge technologies being developed outside of NASA that solve problems here on Earth but also have the potential to address the challenges facing exploration of the Moon and Mars.