Research Communications

Siblings create winning design for new medal that celebrates innovation 

By Andrea Gibson
April 17, 2013

When siblings Jayne and Gregory Seymour heard about the design competition for Ohio University’s new Konneker Medal for Commercialization and Entrepreneurship, they couldn’t resist taking on the challenge.

“We immediately began brainstorming. We realized that we had a solid idea and decided that it would be worth it to give it a go,” said Gregory Seymour, an alumnus of the Russ College of Engineering and Technology.

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Creative Activity launched the competition in spring 2012 to find a design for the new medal, offering a $2,000 prize for the winner.

 Seymours
Jayne Seymour and Gregory Seymour with their winning design for the Konneker Medal at a special reception in March. (Photo credit: Andrea Gibson)

The Ohio University Foundation created the Konneker Medal for Commercialization and Entrepreneurship to recognize current or former faculty or students who have demonstrated excellence in innovation, invention, commercialization and entrepreneurship.

The medal is named for distinguished scientist and entrepreneur Wilfred Konneker, who earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in physics from Ohio University in 1943 and 1947. Konneker started the first radiopharmaceutical company in the United States, pursued international pharmaceutical ventures and launched 10 successful startup companies.

Working long-distance—Gregory Seymour works in California while Jayne Seymour is a junior in the College of Business in Athens—the siblings conducted research on Konneker’s career. His achievements influenced the design concept, which features a stylized human head representing the inventor melding science and innovation against the backdrop of nature, industry and the universe.

“We were really amazed by how much he had accomplished,” Gregory Seymour said. “We wanted to show that mankind is capable of creating great things, and it is because of man’s creativity and innovation that ideas become reality.”
Konneker_Medal 
The Konneker Medal design (Photo credit: Andrea Gibson)

The design was one of 50 ideas submitted to the competition by current students, staff and alumni. Joseph Shields, vice president for research and creative activity and dean of the Graduate College, organized a faculty committee of Lisa Villamil, assistant professor of visual communication, Tom Bartel, associate professor of ceramics, and David Russell, assistant professor of scenic design, to review the entries. They selected the Seymours’ concept as their top choice, and the Ohio University Foundation approved the design.

“Jayne and Gregory Seymour have produced a compelling image reflecting the remarkable contributions of Wil Konneker, thereby helping to establish the Konneker Medal as a distinctive honor,” Shields said.

In March, the Office of the Vice President for Research and Creative Activity unveiled the medal design at a reception in Baker Center’s 1804 Lounge. That evening, the medal was awarded to the first two recipients—John Kopchick and David Scholl—at the Innovation Awards.

Kopchick, the Goll-Ohio Eminent Scholar of Molecular Biology in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine/Edison Biotechnology Institute, was honored for a scientific discovery that led to the development of Somavert®, a drug for individuals with the growth hormone disorder acromegaly. Scholl, an Ohio University alumnus and member of the Board of Trustees, was honored for his role in building Diagnostic Hybrids, Inc., an Athens biotechnology company that stemmed from Ohio University research.

The Seymours were recognized for their work at the afternoon medal unveiling and at the Innovation Awards, which drew about 200 innovators and entrepreneurs from across the region. Family members and Ohio University colleagues turned out to view the design and congratulate the Seymours on their selection. Although the family is originally from New Jersey, the Seymours grew up in the Athens area and are both graduates of Athens High School. In addition, both Gregory and Jayne previously or currently work for the Office of Student Academic Services in the environmental studies program of the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.

“Winning the competition was a great honor,” Gregory Seymour said. “Our most memorable moment was when President McDavis said that the Konneker Medal is our legacy at the university. The whole ceremony meant a lot to us.”

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Creative Activity will issue a call for nominations for the 2013 Konneker Medal for Commercialization and Entrepreneurship medal this fall. For more information, contact research@ohio.edu.