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Experienced Innovators Selected to Help Advance Technology and Innovation at the University of Houston

By Rashda Khan 713-743-7587

The University of Houston is proud to announce the appointment of two distinguished professionals to key leadership roles within the Office of Technology, Transfer, and Innovation (OTTI) under the Division of Energy and Innovation. These appointments mark a significant step forward in the University's continued commitment to fostering entrepreneurship, innovation and partnerships between academia and industry.

Haleh Ardebili, the Kamel Salama Endowed Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has been appointed as the new assistant vice president of Entrepreneurship and Startup Ecosystem. Michael Harold, Cullen Engineering Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, assumes the role of assistant vice president for Intellectual Property and Industrial Engagements.

Haleh Ardebili, the new assistant vice president of Entrepreneurship and Startup Ecosystem, and Michael Harold, assistant vice president for Intellectual Property and Industrial Engagements at the University of Houston.

“Drs. Ardebili and Harold are both tested leaders in their respective areas – they are already contributing to our rich academic environment with their knowledge, expertise and commitment to innovation,” said Ramanan Krishnamoorti, vice president for energy and innovation at UH. “Having them helm our growing team will help UH continue its culture of innovation and contribution to society.”

In her new role, Ardebili will oversee the entrepreneurship and startup efforts at UH. She will be responsible for directing the startup and entrepreneurship staff within the OTTI, with a focus on advancing faculty and student-related innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives. Among her key duties will be guiding and mentoring to faculty and student startups, facilitating collaborations with entities such as the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, and increasing the commercialization of technology developed at UH.

Harold, in his new role, will lead the university's technology transfer activities. He will direct the licensing and IP management staff within the OTTI, and focus on promoting the generation of intellectual property, managing the university's IP portfolio, and fostering industry partnerships. He will also oversee the effective operation and stewardship of UH IP assets, ensuring optimal monetization and protection of intellectual property.

Both positions will play integral roles in increasing faculty engagement, facilitating innovations from research labs to market and enhancing collaboration with internal and external stakeholders. These appointments underscore UH’s commitment to driving innovation, economic development and industry partnerships.

Ardebili, who first joined the University in 2004, previously served as the director of the Cullen College of Engineering’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative. She and her team developed a cutting-edge fully stretchable fabric-based lithium-ion battery, which holds promise for various applications, including potential use in astronauts' gear, military uniforms and underwater vehicles. Her research has garnered support from the National Science Foundation, NASA, U.S. Department of Defense and more. She also brings industry experience, having served as a research scientist for General Electric R&D between 2000 and 2003.

Harold worked at the DuPont Company in various technical and managerial positions between 1993 and 2000. He joined UH in 2000 as chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering. He served in that role until 2008 and again from 2013-20. He and his students conduct research of catalytic reactions in energy and environmental applications. As principal investigator of the Texas Center for Clean Engines, Emissions and Fuels (TxCEF), he has advanced catalytic technologies that reduce harmful vehicle emissions and conducted testing and verification of technologies for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. In addition to numerous industry and professional accolades, Harold’s contributions earned him the Esther Farfel Award, the highest honor bestowed to a faculty member at UH, in 2013.

Both Ardebili and Harold will continue their faculty roles in addition to their new responsibilities.

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