The Spring 2021 Innovation Catalysts Grant Recipients

January 26, 2021 | 12:48 pm

We are pleased to announce the Innovation Catalysts grant recipients for the spring semester! The Jacobs Institute Innovation Catalysts is a grant program that helps Berkeley’s student innovators unlock potential in their projects. Over the semester, grant winners will work on their projects with the support of funding and mentorship from Jacobs Hall and the CITRIS Invention Lab. Though students will continue to work remotely, they will still have access to the Makerspace’s resources and remote fabrication services, as well as on-going mentorship from our Student Advisory Board, Jacobs Technical Staff, Design Fellows, and others.

This spring, ten projects were selected by our Student Advisory Board and leadership team to be part of the grant program. Five groups were selected for our Ignite grant, which awards student groups up to $2000 to continue in-progress projects; and five were selected for our Spark grant, which offers up to $500 for early-stage project ideas. We are also thrilled to welcome students from our first MDes cohort to the group; as well as three student groups from the fall 2020 grant cohort that will continue developing their projects for another semester. Learn more below.


Limb-O2 Multi-patient Attachment for Medical Ventilators

Students: Abhi Ghavalkar (MDes, 2022), Mercedes Saldaña (MDes, 2022), Penny Lin (MDes, 2022) 

Limb-O2 is a passive, multi-patient attachment for medical ventilators that allows up to four patients to share a single machine safely. For under $800—using standard components and one novel, 3D printed part—the product allows medical facilities in developing nations to increase their capacity by 300% by simply plugging into an existing ventilator.

Living Gifts

Students: Katherine Song (Computer Science PhD, 2024), Cici Wei (Cognitive Science, 2023), Michelle Gantos (Mechanical Engineering, 2022), Richard Liu (Computer Science, 2023)

Living Gifts are exchangeable, tangible gifts with a built-in display that allow friends and family to collaboratively design one another’s gifts. The team fine-tuned their concept after receiving a Spark grant in the fall of 2020, and now plan to use their Ignite grant to continue developing their prototype. The team’s goal is to further their user research by delivering Living Gifts to 12 user pairs.


Students: Ryan Mei (Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, Business Administration, 2023), Leyla Kabuli (Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, Music, 2021)

Scoplet is a modular computational microscope that can produce high-resolution 3D images without mechanical scanning. Within one small device, Scoplet can synthesize a wide range of standard biological contrast imaging modalities without the need for any stains or chemicals. The Scoplet team is returning to our Ignite grant cohort from fall 2020 with the goal of establishing Scoplet as an accessible, affordable, and scalable microscopy device for research and diagnostics.

The Maker Machine

Students: Miyuki Weldon (M.S. Mechanical Engineering, 2021)

To combat the loss of hands on experience and making by remote learners, the Maker Machine aims to be a 2-in-1 3D printer and CNC mill that can be made by others. Weldon used her fall 2020 Spark grant to build her 3D printer and plans to focus on the CNC milling functionality with the Ignite grant this spring.

Walkie Talkie

Students: Erin Kraemer (Computer Science, 2021), Dorsa Moslehi (Public Health, 2021), Nseke Ngilbus (Product Management, 2022), Taylor Birdsong (Rhetoric)

Walkie Talkie is a free, volunteer based service designed to deliver compassionate virtual and in-person support to individuals who lack motivation and/or social support at home to maintain a healthy active and social lifestyle. The team’s service will be delivered through but not limited to a mobile application that will allow users to stay connected with volunteers, friends, and peers in their community.



Students: Magnus Gu (Mechanical Engineering, 2023), Bryan Wong (Bioengineering, 2022), Kelly Chou (Chemistry, 2021)

The Artemix is a miniaturized, kitchen countertop version of a commercial food texturizer. The Artemix will allow users to produce their own customized plant-based meats at home with ingredients they already have, with the goal of making plant-based meat processing a transparent and customizable procedure for home users.

Development of a 3D-Printable Composite Seismic Isolator for Earthquake Damage Mitigation

Student: Andrew Chen (Mechanical Engineering, 2022)

This project aims to develop a fully-printable composite seismic isolator capable of mitigating earthquake damage to structures in developing countries that are unable to undergo a full seismic retrofit. A printable isolator has the potential to dramatically reduce labor costs and production time compared to traditionally-manufactured devices, with the possibility for immediate deployment for use in schools, hospitals, and houses.


Student: Riddhi Bagadiaa (Computer Science, 2022)

The Electreat is a spoon-shaped device designed with dietary restrictions in mind. It uses electrical charges to stimulate different tastes in the mouth, altering the taste of food eaten with the spoon, but retaining the original chemical constituents of the food.


Student: Eugene Kim (Art Practice, 2021)

Interdisciplinary was conceived as the result of Eugene Kim’s life-long appreciation for both art practice and STEM subjects, with the goal of helping artists approach the interdisciplinary field of combining formal art practice with technology. Eugene’s project will help close the gap between art and technology through sculpture that incorporates fiber optic cables and other technological programming, providing artists with the fundamental knowledge of working with these technologies, as well as the confidence to continue developing work that integrates technology.

LMNH Digital Instrument

Student: Valerie V. Ekko (Cognitive Science and Arts Practice, 2022)

LMNH is a digital instrument for patients with neurodegenerative disorders, such as ALS, Parkinson’s Disease, and Alzheimer’s Disease, who have lost the ability to play music. Music and music creation has shown an increased ability to help dementia patients by increasing stimulation of certain brain regions that are associated with memory, emotions, and enthusiasm. The LMNH Digital Instrument will grant patients who do not currently have the ability to sing, hum, or create music physically the ability to do so through the use of the electricity produced by their brains via an EEG sensor. The LMNH Digital Instrument started as a Fung Fellowship project in the fall of 2020, and thanks to the Spark grant, Valerie will now begin to develop a working prototype using an EEG sensor kit, which will allow the device to be tested on musicians and eventually patients.