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Laurie Bagley succeeds Lew Meixler as head of Technology Transfer

When Lew Meixler heard that Laurie Bagley, who was then working as a technology licensing assistant at Princeton University, was looking for a job, he was delighted. He had the perfect job for her: his job. Meixler was planning to retire and thought Bagley would be the ideal candidate to fill the position.

Bagley became the head of Technology Transfer in March. Meixler retired after nearly 40 years at PPPL but will work part-time for six months to help with the transition. “I think she’ll bring new ideas and energy to the job,” Meixler said. “I think she’ll be very proactive in marketing our technologies and capabilities and I think people will find her very easy to work with and very collegial.”

“Laurie is a great addition to the staff,” said John DeLooper, head of Best Practices and Outreach, who is Bagley’s supervisor. “She has great experience and connections by way of working for main campus and she’s enthusiastic about her new task at the Laboratory.”

Bagley says her main focus in the job is to offer help and encouragement to people inventing new technologies at PPPL, including non-scientists and engineers as well as the research staff. Once she finds out what technologies are being developed, she will reach out to people outside PPPL who might want to invest in or use the technology. They could include people working in research and development at companies, investors, and researchers at other universities and national laboratories.

Communications the number one skill

“I think communication is probably the number one skill for the job,” Bagley says. “To reach out, not be afraid to make connections, and follow up is a big piece of it.”

Bagley worked closely with Meixler on technologies at PPPL and was familiar with the Laboratory through her work with the University. She said it’s been helpful to have Meixler remain at PPPL part-time for six months. “He’s been a great mentor,” Bagley said. “I’m very grateful that he’s staying on.”

Dozens of inventions

Meixler began at PPPL in 1975 as an electrical engineer and became head of Technology Transfer in 1991. He brought his engineering expertise and personal touch to the job for 23 years. One example is his work with researcher Lenore Rasmussen. As head of the Plasma Surface Technology Laboratory at PPPL, Meixler worked with other scientists to help Rasmussen develop a synthetic muscle for robotics and prosthetics that expands and contracts like a human muscle. The material was on board the Dragon spacecraft atop the Falcon 9 rocket when it blasted off from NASA’s Cape Canaveral to the International Space Station on April 14. The material will remain on the space station for 90 days to test how well it stands up to space radiation.

In addition to the synthetic muscle project, Meixler worked with inventors on dozens of technologies, including a Miniature Integrated Nuclear Detection System, or MINDS, that can detect radioactive materials used in dirty bombs; a method to pasteurize eggs using radio frequency waves; and a diamond wire cutting technology that was first used to disassemble the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor and was later used by other companies to disassemble large machines.

“I am very grateful to the Laboratory for the opportunity to be able to spend the last almost 40 years of my career at such an exciting, collegial and intellectually exciting environment, working with so many incredibly intelligent and dedicated people who are devoting themselves to solving one of the most important environmental challenges facing the world," Meixler said at the farewell celebration in March marking his retirement.

Meixler graduated from the City College (now University) of New York with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and received a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Rutgers University in 1972. Before coming to PPPL he worked at the RCA Astro-Electronics Division designing spacecraft and ground station electronics. When he first came to the Lab in 1975, Meixler worked on designing electronic equipment for the Lab’s major experiments, including the fiber-optic monitoring system and the tritium area monitors for TFTR.

An inventor with five patents

He is an inventor himself who holds five patents, starting with a crystal stabilized voltage controlled oscillator used on Navy navigational satellites. It served as a kind of early GPS for Navy ships. His experience patenting his own inventions got him interested in patents. He took and passed the Federal Patent Bar Examination and became a registered patent agent before becoming head of Technology Transfer in 1991.

Meixler also served on the executive board of the Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC), where he spent two terms as financial chair and five years as regional coordinator for the FLC Northeast Region, winning the Harold Metcalf Award for service to the FLC in 2012.

“He was a very positive advocate for the Lab,” said DeLooper. “He was a great ambassador to represent the Laboratory and put our name on the table. He really took that mission to heart.”

Meixler married his high school sweetheart, Deb, shortly after they graduated from college.  The East Windsor couple has been married for nearly 50 years. They have two grown children, Marci, a professor of environmental science at Rutgers, and Michael, who has his own IT company; and five grandchildren ranging from 1 to 14 years old, all living in the area. He looks forward to spending more time with the grandkids and having time for his hobbies. He is head of the Central Jersey Jewish Genealogy Club and is an avid amateur gardener.

New responsibilities

Bagley’s new job comes with additional responsibilities. Besides overseeing technology transfer, Bagley is also in charge of patents and publications and the Laboratory’s records program,. This last responsibility stems from new government regulations that require open access to information, meaning that researchers who publish articles must be able to provide the original article or data through web links.

Bagley said she faces some challenges in marketing technology developed at PPPL because the technology tends to be narrowly focused. However, some research is aimed at a broader audience and there is great potential for doing so at the nanotechnology laboratory, Bagley said. “I love a challenge,” she said. “I love learning new things every day and that’s exactly what this job is, finding out exactly what’s going on and trying to market it.”

Bagley said she would like to see more inventions at PPPL. “Anybody can be an inventor who works here,” she said. “You don’t have to be a scientist.”

Background as a research chemist

Bagley brings her own background as a research chemist and entrepreneur to the position. She grew up in Lancaster, Pa., and graduated from Millersville University in Pennsylvania with a degree in chemistry. After graduating, she worked as a chemist and a research chemist at various companies. She was a senior scientist at Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, where she led the team that developed a vinyl formulation for Band-Aid ® bandages.

After several years in the industry, Bagley and some colleagues formed their own consulting company, the BHT Group, LLC.  It worked on licensing and patents for numerous clients including L’Oreal, Bristol Myers Squibb, and J&J. But Bagley said the company ultimately failed because of increased security after the 9/11 attacks that made it difficult to mail information because for a time companies refused to accept unsolicited marketing mailings.

Bagley has been married to her husband Dan, a toxicologist at Colgate Palmolive, for 25 years. The couple lives in Kendall Park in South Brunswick and have two children: Joshua, 22, who is working in finance for L’Oreal, and Cara, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering at Lehigh University. Cara will work at PPPL this summer in the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program.

In her spare time, Bagley likes reading and outdoor activities like biking. She plays the French horn in the Somerset Valley Orchestra and volunteers with the American Red Cross and at the Princeton Healthcare System Hospice.

Bagley has relished meeting new people at the laboratory. “I enjoy the people first and foremost and finding out what technologies are being developed,” she said.

 

U.S. Department of Energy
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.

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