Looking around a now empty 2,500 square foot laboratory at Gregory Barnes Center for Biotechnology Business Development at Clarion University, Benjamin Legum envisions a future where the NanoBlox facilities will provide employment for the region and research opportunities for Clarion University students.
|Ben Legum talks about science and business.|
Legum is excited to be part of Clarion University's new Center for Applied Research and Intellectual Property Development, part of Clarion University's College of Business Administration. He views the center as, "a bridge between business and science."
The Center is dedicated to the development and transfer of its research and technology to the public sector for the general economic benefit of Clarion University, the region and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is designed to complement the work of Clarion University's Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which aids small business development in the area.
"Though I am a scientist, the business end is familiar to me because I have independently done this type of work in the private sector," said Legum. "I have written grants and I know how to start a small business. The hardest part in the process is perseverance.
His other role is to support the firm NanoBlox, more specifically nanodiamond research and development, in the growing field of nanotechnology. Nanodiamonds represent unlimited potential with commercial applications of lubrication, coatings, composites, drug delivery and medical imaging.
Nanotechnology is any technology related to features of nanometer scale, one billionth of a meter: thin films, fine particles, chemical synthesis, advanced micro-lithography, and atomic/molecular engineering. This research has triggered a sci-tech revolution based upon the ability to systematically organize and manipulate matter on the nanometer length scale.
The NanoBlox laboratory will process nanodiamonds for industrial uses and be a center for research and development. This environment can provide excellent internship opportunities for Clarion University students.
"I anticipate student researchers from both the sciences and business," said Legum. "Their numbers will be determined by the amount of projects and funding available. I am looking for the best and the brightest. I want them to be paid, because it is easier to have an appreciation of your work when you are paid; and I want them to know how to use the tools, because it makes a world of difference to have this experience in the real world.
An inter-disciplinary engineer with experiences ranging from the development of biodegradable scaffolds to the optimization of experimental manipulation devices gaining a wide range of proficiency with scientific instruments and techniques, Legum most recently was a medical device manufacturing/process engineer for Globus Medical Inc. He previously worked as a molecular biology laboratory technician for Cephalon Inc. and as a biomaterials technician for CLEO Cosmetics & Pharmaceuticals Inc.
"This is exciting to start bringing interdisciplinary research to Clarion," said Legum.
Legum grew up in Fairfax, Va., and after serving five years in the U.S. Navy as an information systems technician he was honorably discharged. He went on to earn a biomedical technician certification from the Community College of Philadelphia in 2003, a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering degree with a concentration in materials and tissues in 2007 and a master of science in materials science and engineering degree in 2007, both from Drexel University. He completed several practicum experiences and graduate research projects while at Drexel ranging from inhalation toxicity of nanoparticulates to conductivity experiments of individual nanoparticles.
Legum's office is at the Barnes Center, located at Trinity Point, Exit 62, I-80 in Monroe Township in a KOZ/KIZ area, which encourages businesses to locate and stay in an area. The Center houses local economic support organizations and provides space for business incubation of newly formed biotechnology and nanotechnology companies whose ownership and management are committed to Pennsylvania and its northwest region. By linking research taking place in the new science and technology center, with the development of the Barnes Center, Clarion University will further its vision for economic development in the region.
The Barnes Center will continue to look for additional tenants. The current 23,000 square foot building offers only one-quarter of the potential space available. Three more pod areas are ready for development that could expand the Barnes Center to 80,000 square feet. Situated on 3.4 acres of land will allow for additional expansion in the future.
The center is designed to achieve LEED (Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design) certification. These new "green" buildings will teach young people and the entire community, the value of sustainable energy and conservation.
The first occupant of Barnes Center is Clarion University SBDC, which assists businesses with critical business issues such as marketing, tax compliance and financial analysis, in addition to providing educational programs that assist business owners with operating and growing their business.
Clarion University is the high-achieving, nationally recognized, comprehensive university that delivers a personal and challenging academic experience.