Director for Operations, Patents and Compliance
California Institute of Technology
Becky Hernandez is the Director for Operations, Patents and Compliance at Caltech. She is a member of the Office of Technology Transfer and Corporate Partnerships (OTTCP) Management Team and responsible for the management of IS/IT infrastructure, office space, federal IP compliance, data management and data integrity and associated technology transfer administrative processes. Supported by a team of staff, she ensures fulfilment of Caltech and JPL IP policies, obligations to sponsors, manages case disclosure and compliance systems, ensures accuracy and conformity of data, and identification and implementation of new procedures and processes.
Prior to joining OTTCP, she worked for Caltech’s Office of the General Counsel and, before that, many years as a paralegal.
What experience do you have working on or with a strategic Board of Directors?
Both in my role as Director for Operations, Patents and Compliance at Caltech and as Compliance Chair for the AUTM Operations and Compliance conference, I led strategic efforts to advance industry engagement with federal research sponsors.
Please include a brief description of your volunteer experiences within AUTM.
For almost two decades, I have trained a generation of tech transfer professionals. I served as committee member and chair for the AUTM TOOLS Committee from 2007 until 2015 and the AUTM Operations & Compliance from 2016 until 2022. Notable accomplishments include leading the initiative to establish an advanced compliance course, which then led to the creation of the highly successful AUTM University, which brought together synergies of the AUTM Essentials, Operations, Compliance, Finance and Agreements courses.
Why do you want to join the AUTM Board of Directors?
Further federal compliance policy change is required to enhance the role of tech transfer offices at research universities. The federal government has benefited from AUTM’s technical compliance training and their insight into the national innovation economy is unprecedented. But we need standardization among federal funding agencies who sponsor the research that drives our industry. For more than 15 years, I have developed a vast network of tech transfer professionals and trained a generation of compliance SMEs. As I evolved in how I contribute to the tech transfer community, I believe the AUTM board would strategically benefit from my perspective.
Have you served in a volunteer leadership role for other organizations? If so, please explain.
I have mentored at-risk youth in my community in the LA area for more than 25 years.
If elected by the Membership to the Board, would you consider serving as Chair? Please explain.
Although it would be a honor, not at this time. If elected to the Board I would like to continue to advance the operations and technical efforts of AUTM University (Operations/Compliance/Finance & Agreements).
Please share personal strengths that you believe would be valuable to the AUTM Board and/or the strategic direction of the Association.
My 20+ years in tech transfer and my extensive management knowledge has helped support the Caltech Tech Transfer team in becoming one of the leaders in the field. My contributions to the office have not only been in management but also in strategy and implementation focused on building a strong foundation on which tech transfer sits. I have contributed in developing the vision for our office and have helped implement and execute a strategic plan effectively.
What special experience do you have in driving and implementing a strategic plan?
Being a part of the Tech Transfer team at Caltech during the early stages, it became apparent that in order to operate effectively we needed to integrate all parts of technology transfer together in one system. I recognized that we needed a system in place to manage the information and documentation for inventions, patents, licensing, finance, events, and CRM. At that time, there was no off-the shelf system available which combined all the information into a user friendly platform. Taking into account our office’s long-term goals, a colleague and I developed a software platform that has allowed our office to grow and be at the forefront of technology transfer. This was the birth of our Patent Utilization Technology Transfer System.
How do terms of the position (both responsibilities and time commitment) fit with your other responsibilities? Will you have any conflicts of commitment between your full-time position and your volunteer time on the AUTM Board?
I have the full support of Caltech to volunteer on the AUTM Board. I don't anticipate any conflicts in terms of responsibilities and time.
AUTM is committed to addressing issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion both on the Board and on behalf of our Members. Briefly describe how your experiences can contribute to the Association’s growth in this area.
I have struggled with a disability for many years and have made it a point to be an example of an effective contributor. As a hiring manager and an AUTM Committee Chair I have made sure to be inclusive and create diverse teams.
Advocacy for the innovation ecosystem is something AUTM has promoted recently. How do you think AUTM should continue to be involved?
In addition to the work AUTM is already doing to defend the Bayh-Dole Act against misinterpretation and misuse at the policy level, AUTM could also take a more active role in supporting more efficient and effective implementation of compliance with Bayh-Dole provisions at the day-to-day practice level. For example, AUTM's advocacy could extend to encouraging the usage of iEdison by ALL federal funding agencies; and remaining involved in the shaping of any ongoing revisions to the Bayh-Dole implementing regulations.
Is there anything else you would like AUTM Members to know about you before they vote?
With my extensive experience, I would like to help train and strengthen the foundational cornerstone of tech transfer which I believe is Operations, Compliance, and Finance/Agreements. I feel that this is an opportunity for growth for administrative professionals in TTOs.