The USC Stevens Center has revamped the innovation internship program and is thrilled to announce the first cohort of licensing interns!  Seven exceptional PhD candidates with expertise in life sciences and physical sciences and a passion for technology commercialization will work closely with the Executive Director, Dr. Erin Overstreet, and the seasoned licensing team to enhance technology licensing marketing efforts for USC inventors. In addition to creating marketing materials and executing campaigns, the interns will gain hands-on training and mentorship in three key licensing areas:

  • Patentability Analyses: Assessing the potential for patent protection.
  • Market Analysis: Investigation of market size, dynamics, and unmet needs.
  • Agreement Negotiation: Drafting and negotiating intellectual property agreements, such as Confidential Disclosure Agreements (CDAs) and Industry Investment Agreements (IIAs),.

Meet our licensing interns:

Oscar Alberto De La Fuente:  Oscar is a PhD candidate in the Department of Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at USC. As a part of Dr. Scott Fraser’s lab, he develops the next generation of molecular techniques for nucleotide visualization and hopes to empower the study of enhancer-promoter interactions and their implications in development and disease. As a first-time inventor, Oscar is deeply interested in expanding his knowledge and expertise in IP regulation, marketing, and commercialization, particularly in the biotechnology and pharmaceutics space. Oscar earned a BS in Cell and Molecular Biology and a MS in Biotechnology from the University of Pennsylvania.

Andrew Chareunsouk:  He is a PhD candidate in the Department of Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at USC and studies large-scale bone regeneration in mice, with an emphasis on the remodeling process of newly formed bone. He is an expert in skeletal muscle biology. Andrew has served as the School of Medicine Graduate Student Association President and has extensive experience teaching topics in biology at all levels of higher education. Andrew earned a BS in Biotechnology and a MS in Biology from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Nikki Higa: Nikki is a Cancer Biology and Genomics PhD candidate in the lab of Drs. Peter Kuhn and Jim Hicks. Her research focuses on applying multiomic analyses to identify and characterize novel circulating cancer biomarkers detected in blood-based “liquid biopsies.” Through Nikki’s research, she is a member of the Blood Profiling Atlas in Cancer (BLOODPAC) consortium, a multi-institutional group of stakeholders in the liquid biopsy field that are collaborating to accelerate the clinical adoption of these tests. Prior to attending USC, Nikki worked on developing point-of-care diagnostic tests at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the University of Washington. She earned a BS in Bioengineering from the University of Washington.

Padideh Nasseri:  Padideh is a Neuroscience PhD candidate at USC. She investigates non-invasive physiological interventions targeting biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease in Dr. Mara Mather’s lab. She has also served as President of the Neuroscience Graduate Forum at USC, where she orchestrated efforts to connect PhD candidates with various sectors of the pharmaceutical industry. Before joining USC, Padideh earned her MS in Cognitive Psychology from the Institute of Cognitive Science Studies in Iran, where she researched the effects of non-invasive brain stimulation on cognitive functions.

Abel Salinas, Jr.: He is a third-year PhD candidate working under the guidance of Dr. Fred Morstatter. His research is centered on assessing demographic bias in large language models. Abel earned a BS in Computer Science from California State University, Los Angeles, before pursuing his MS in Computer Science at USC.

Adam Samuel: Adam is a fifth-year Chemistry PhD candidate at USC. Currently, Adam works in the lab of Professor Marinescu and conducts electrocatalytic research for the reduction of greenhouse gases, such as CO2. After earning his PhD, Adam is hoping to be involved with the advancement of sustainable energy and working towards making sustainable solutions and technologies accessible to the world. He received a BS in Biochemistry from Arizona State University.

Christina Trang: Christina is a sixth-year Chemistry PhD candidate at USC. She researches self-assembled monolayers to enhance the reactivity and selectivity of surface-based catalysts. She earned her BS in Chemistry from the University of Oregon, where she studied catalysts for solar fuel generation.

“We’re confident our first cohort will make significant contributions and excited to add their expertise and curiosity to the USC Stevens Center team,” said Dr. Overstreet.