T. T. Chao Symposium on Innovation

Conferences & Symposia
Thursday, November 12, 2020
3:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
Online Event | Central Standard Time (UTC -6)
United States

Rescheduled from March, the 2020 T. T. Chao Symposium on Innovation will take place online.


The city of the future

The city of the future.

Courtesy of Rice University's Baker Institute of Public Policy

The annual T. T. Chao Symposium on Innovation celebrates and encourages innovation in the Houston, Texas, region. This event brings together established and emerging leaders in the technical, entrepreneurial, health-care, and policy arenas to think constructively about how Houston’s industrial and entrepreneurial heritage can be adapted to address society’s needs in the 21st century.

The Infrastructures for Innovation series within the Chao Symposium on Innovation examines and draws attention to the systems needed to support innovation and innovation-based industries and the ways in which historical industries continue to shape the future of innovation. This is the final symposium in a three-part series that included Capital in 2018 and Spaces of Innovation in 2019. The theme for 2020, Infrastructures for Innovation: Aligning Policy and Practice, will examine the policies that guide and shape innovation and innovation-based industries from local and state-based policies to regional and federal policies and agendas.

Infrastructures for Innovation: Aligning Policy and Practice

Promoting innovation is a priority for Houston business leaders and policymakers. Developing innovation centers in urban areas, however, is a complex process that is shaped not just by funding opportunities, but also by local policies and infrastructure. At this year’s T. T. Chao Symposium on Innovation, experts will examine the policies that guide and shape innovation in the United States and consider how those policies can inform the construction of the Ion, Rice University’s new innovation hub in Houston. Panelists will also address the city’s growing innovation district and share insights for building successful and equitable policies to transform Houston into a smart city of the future.

Conference Schedule

3:00 p.m.


4:00 p.m.


For more information please contact David J. Caruso at dcaruso@sciencehistory.org.

The T. T. Chao Symposium on Innovation is an annual event designed and hosted by the Science History Institute and made possible by a gift from the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Foundation in Houston. This year’s symposium is co-sponsored by the Baker Institute Science and Technology Policy Program.


About the Panelists

Reginald DesRoches (Moderator)
William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Engineering, George R. Brown School of Engineering, Rice University

Reginald DesRoches is the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Engineering at Rice University’s George R. Brown School of Engineering. He previously served as chair of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. 

As a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Structural Engineering Institute, DesRoches led a team of engineers, architects, city planners, and social scientists from the United States to study the impact of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The award-winning scientist and engineer also serves on the National Construction Safety Team Advisory Committee, has testified before U.S. House and Senate subcommittees on earthquake resilience, and has participated in roundtables for media and congressional staffers in Washington, D.C., on topics ranging from disaster preparedness to challenges for African American men in STEM fields. 

DesRoches was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and grew up in Queens, New York. He earned his BS in mechanical engineering, MS in civil engineering, and PhD in structural engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, where he was elected to the department’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni.

Dan Berglund
President and CEO, State Science and Technology Institute

Dan Berglund is the president and CEO of SSTI, a national nonprofit organization that strengthens initiatives to create a better future through science, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. SSTI is the most comprehensive resource available for those involved in technology-based economic development.

Leading the organization since its inception in 1996, Berglund has helped develop a nationwide network of practitioners and policy makers dedicated to improving the economy through science, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. SSTI works with this network to conduct research on best practices and trends in tech-based economic development, encourage cooperation among and between state and federal programs, and assist states and communities as they develop and implement strategies. Before joining SSTI, Berglund worked as a consultant for the Ohio Department of Development in various positions, including as acting deputy director of the Division of Technological Innovation.

Berglund holds a BA in history, political science, and economics from Ohio University.

William Fulton
Director, Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Rice University

William Fulton is the director of Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research. He is a former mayor of Ventura, California, and was previously director of planning and economic development for the city of San Diego.

Since arriving at the Kinder Institute in 2014, Fulton has overseen a tripling of the institute’s size and budget. He also currently serves as board chair for Metro Lab Network, a national network of research partnerships between cities and universities, and vice chair of LINK Houston, a transportation equity advocacy group. He is the author of six books, including Guide to California Planning, the standard urban planning textbook in California, and The Reluctant Metropolis: The Politics of Urban Growth in Los Angeles. His most recent book is Talk City: A Chronicle of Political Life in an All-American Town.

Fulton holds a master’s degree in mass communication from American University and a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of California, Los Angeles.

John Hardin
Executive Director, Office of Science, Technology, and Innovation, North Carolina Department of Commerce

John W. Hardin is the executive director for the North Carolina Board of Science, Technology, and Innovation in the North Carolina Department of Commerce. He was previously the board’s deputy director and chief policy analyst and then the acting director.

Hardin served as assistant vice president for research and sponsored programs at the University of North Carolina (UNC) system office and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at UNC, Chapel Hill. He is a visiting lecturer in the Department of Public Policy at Chapel Hill, where he teaches courses on American politics, public policy, science policy, and policy analysis. He has published numerous articles, book chapters, and reports for state government and UNC.

Hardin holds MA and PhD degrees in political science from UNC, Chapel Hill; a BA in economics from Baylor University; and a certificate of completion for the Leadership Decision Making program from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Julia Woertink
Research & Development Director, Packaging & Specialty Plastics, Dow Inc.

Julia Woertink is the R&D director for polyethylene product R&D and characterization and testing R&D in Dow’s packaging and specialty plastics business.

She was previously the associate R&D director for mergers and acquisitions integration at Dow, responsible for the integration activities related to the Dow–DuPont merger and subsequent spinoffs. Before taking on that role Woertink was Dow’s R&D strategy leader, reporting to the senior vice president of R&D and chief technical officer of the Dow Chemical Company. In this role she coordinated the planning and implementation of strategic initiatives, technical communications, and management of the global R&D project portfolio. She joined Dow in 2010 as a member of the electronic materials R&D area, where she led product development groups across the advanced semiconductor packaging portfolio and served as the site implementation leader for Dow’s Women’s Innovation Network.

Woertink holds a PhD in chemistry from Stanford University and a BS in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology.