Garret Stirland | Staff Writer
In the spirit of spreading ideas worth sharing, UVU hosted a TEDx event.
Wrapping up the first session was a presentation offered by Joe Landolina, a 21-year-old and the inventor of VETI-GEL, a gel that can stop traumatic bleeding instantaneously without the need of applied pressure.
“One of my fondest memories was working with my grandfather, who was a chemist, and on our property we had a chemistry lab. So every single day after school I would rush off the school bus and I would go into this lab and he would show me how to do very simple things… as time went on I started doing my own research and own work and looking at how I can change things, and really that peaked my interest in science,” said Landolina.
His grandfather and father were both business owners, which sparked an interest in entrepreneurship. Landolina enrolled at Columbia University and worked on various medical research products, however he wanted to begin his own research and make his mark in the medical industry.
“I started playing around with anything I could get my hands on,” said Landolina.
Past chemical experience with his grandfather led Landolina to working with algae.
“What I realized with the algae that I was working with was that if we made an extract of that algae, that extract could – would – actually snap back together very quickly. So you had something that was a gel then if you interacted with it, it would turn solid very quickly. So the idea that I had was, what if you could use that to actually plug up a wound?” said Landolina.
This discovery led to the invention of VETI-GEL, the gel that can stop bleeding instantaneously. The algae extract in VETI-GEL interacts with the cellular structure of the human body, allowing the body to form a barrier against the flow of blood.
“The body will respond by producing fiber, which is necessary to stop bleeding,” said Landolina. “The extract will actually form a fiber patch, stopping the bleeding.”
Landolina immediately envisioned a market for VETI-GEL. Walking through the halls of Columbia, Landolina found a poster for a business idea competition with a grand prize of $75,000. Landolina and a business friend, despite their inexperience, won the competition giving them just enough money to get started. Shortly after, he brought on several other young persons to form his business team.
A few months into the creation of their company, Landolina and colleagues faced a financial obstacle.
“At the end of 2012, I had $7,000 in the companies bank account. That was either enough money to file patents to make sure the technology would be protected or to do the testing that we wanted. We ended up doing both—we paid for one test and that one test ended up being successful, with that we were able to raise our very first amount of funding,” said Landolina.
With their first substantial investments they built a manufacturing facility that was to the code of the Food and Drug Administration. VETI-GEL is now launching into the animal health industry, and Landolina hopes to explore human applications and surgery very soon.
“If you want to be able to do something, go out there and ask for it, the worst answer you can get is ‘no,’” said Landolina.
With a theme of Imagine, session one kicked off with an inspiring talk given by Pamela Lara, an astrophysicist and alumni of UVU.
Lara traveled to the United States to attend UVU and has since discovered seven new variable stars, stars whose brightness fluctuates over short periods of time. These discoveries are important, as they provide astronomers with insights into the workings of distant stars and other celestial bodies.
“The fact that these stars are billions of years old; myself, a twinkle in time compared to them, I feel amazed every time I think of that, and extremely grateful to be alive,” said Lara.
Lara urged listeners to follow their own dreams, whether they are across the galaxy, or in their back yard—“sometimes it’s too early, but it’s never too late.”
Lara’s passion for astronomy began as a young girl living in Chile; her home country holds the world’s largest collection of integrated telescopes, which kindled Lara’s interest in astronomy at an early age.
Joining the TEDx speakers was Captain Jim Green, a former Naval Officer, retired airline pilot, United Nations lobbyist and UVU aviation professor. Green predicted the coming transition of single pilot major airliners and the possibility of commercial unmanned aircrafts.
“NASA in conjunction with Technology Manufacturer Rockwell Collins are developing a scenario of possibly creating a one pilot major airliner,” said Green.
Green described the use of a Super Dispatcher, a ground based computer dispatcher, also trained as a pilot, who would offer support to the single aircraft pilot.
“This was considered sci-fi up until just recently, like way off in the future, well guess what? This is being researched right now to be implemented possibly four to five years from now,” said Green.
He explained that the next step, beyond single pilot aircrafts, is to move into unmanned aircrafts.
“The military is already controlling vehicles all around the world from modules on the ground, with this type of sophistication, why do we not do this with a major airliner as well?” said Green. “These [unmanned] vehicles are already in development, and are ready to be used in the new future.”
With aircrafts conditioning fully computerized take offs and landings, the necessity of an in-cockpit pilot is diminishing.
“Engineers have often been trying to design the perfect cockpit, and they came up with the idea that they would have one seat for a pilot, and one seat for a dog and you might ask ‘What the heck is the dog for?’ the dog is there to bite the hand of the pilot if he tries to touch anything,” said Green.
Speakers of the first session met in UVU’s ballroom for a networking opportunity following the first session.