Todd Coleman had gone from a science and engineering magnet high school in Dallas to earning bachelor's degrees in both computer engineering and electrical engineering at Michigan. What course his educational path would take him in graduate school at MIT he wasn't exactly sure going in, but it's a safe bet he didn't expect to be solving mysteries of the human brain.
Their motivations for trying to turn scientific discovery into a viable business enterprise are as different as their inventions. For Scott White, it was impatience with the standard business model. For Narendra Ahuja, it was partly a desire to follow his funding agencies' wishes, even if that meant going it alone. For Magnus Andersson it was the challenge.
Ben Schaeffer got his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois and some valuable real-world experience at the Beckman Institute before leaving his Midwestern roots behind for the opportunity and bright lights of Wall Street and New York City. Schaeffer left a huge mark at Beckman as the primary author of the software code that powers the Cube, the immersive virtual reality environment operated by the Institute's Integrated Systems Laboratory (ISL).
The Fall 2008 issue of Synergy showcases the real-world value of Beckman Institute research, with features on advances in imaging techniques for disease diagnosis (including video interviews), start-up companies that are capitalizing on our researchers' work, and a Beckman alumni who went from writing code for the Cube to a career on Wall Street.