Meet Your Instructors

Dirk Benedict Dirk Benedict, CLP, RTTP is the Assistant Director for Technology Marketing at the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center (LSU AgCenter). The LSU AgCenter primarily commercializes technology related to crops and natural resources such as sweet potato and rice varieties, food technology, agricultural engineering, and bio-based materials.

Dirk is a Certificated Licensing Professional (CLP) and a Registered Technology Transfer Professional (RTTP) with over ten years of experience in the technology transfer profession. During that time, he has worked jointly with three different LSU commercialization offices, including ones at the LSU Agricultural and Mechanical College, the LSU AgCenter, and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. He also heads commercialization of formulations and recipes from the LSU AgCenter Food Innovation Institute that helps develop and test new products for food businesses.

Dirk has been an instructor for the AUTM Essentials Course for topics including innovation assessment, research, and marketing since 2017.


Dirk Benedict Alexander P. Ducruet, Ph.D., CLP is Director, Licensing & Intellectual Property, in the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute, where he is responsible for managing all intellectual property protection and licensing activities for Pitt innovations. The Innovation Institute, as part of Pitt’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, is Pitt’s hub for innovation and entrepreneurship and provides a comprehensive suite of services for Pitt Innovators, from protecting intellectual property to commercialization through licensing and new enterprise development. Prior to the formation of the Innovation Institute, Alex led licensing activities for Pitt’s Office of Technology Management, which he joined in 2005. Alex received his B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Michigan and Ph.D. in Molecular Pharmacology from the University of Pittsburgh. Before transitioning to a career in technology transfer, he pursued post-doctoral research at Pitt focused on molecular mechanisms of natural product anticancer agents. Alex is a Certified Licensing Professional and a member of AUTM since 2005.


Dirk Benedict Marie Kerbeshian serves as the Executive Director and Assistant Vice President of the University of Iowa Research Foundation, the organization that protects and commercializes technology emanating from innovations by University of Iowa researchers.

Marie is a Certified Licensing Professional as well as a registered Patent Agent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. She has over two decades of experience in university technology commercialization, and prior to joining UIRF Marie ran technology commercialization programs for the Indiana University system and the University of Virginia. She is an active AUTM volunteer and is currently serving as chair of AUTM’s Essentials course committee.

Marie has extensive experience in offering training to those new to the field of technology transfer, both in the U.S. and internationally, and meeting the attendees of the AUTM Essentials course is one of the highlights of her year.


Dirk Benedict Arundeep S. Pradhan, MS Pharm Ad., RTTP is a technology transfer professional, teacher, mentor, and entrepreneur. He has been engaged in technology transfer for over 30 years; was at the forefront of creating the biotech burst in Salt Lake City; helped develop the first biotech roadmap for Colorado; and, helped create the first biotech incubator and the first translational research development center in Portland, Oregon.

Mr. Pradhan served on the AUTM Board, was the AUTM President in 2009, and AUTM Foundation President and Board Chair in 2011.

In 2013 he was the interim CEO of a research tools startup and currently, he is currently the president of Apio Innovation Transfer (APIOiX), the interim CEO of Practical Biotechnology, an oncology therapeutics startup, and vice president for business development for TMT – a company focused on developing treatments for opioid overdose. Mr. Pradhan continues to work with many clients across the globe on licensing and technology transfer related issues as well as mentoring entrepreneurs and startups.


Dirk Benedict Ellen Purpus, PhD is the Assistant Vice President for Enterprise & Innovation at the University of Nevada Reno, responsible for expanding the university’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Ellen oversees the development of enhanced enterprise and commercialization services on campus including technology-transfer functions such as patents, licensing, agreements, startups, spin-offs, and corporate relations.

Ellen recently received a federal grant to help small businesses access federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants, which assist commercializing innovative technologies. She formed and is vice president and secretary of the Nevada Research & Technology Corp. (NVRIC), an independent nonprofit organization supporting UNR’s work commercializing its research innovations.

Ellen frequently speaks for AUTM and the Licensing Executives Society and has served on the faculty and planning committee for AUTM’s Essentials of Academic Licensing course. Ellen earned her PhD in Pathology and Cell Biology from Thomas Jefferson University and completed her post-doctoral fellowship at the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.


Dirk Benedict Brian Shedd, PhD, is Executive Director for the newly formed Office of Innovation and Commercialization at UT Permian Basin. He supports all the faculty, staff, and students at UTPB in their innovation and research commercialization goals as well as interfacing with the external business community to develop partnerships, collaborations, and form new companies. The office also runs the UTPB Incubator and the future Makerspace which will have leasable space for companies and facilities for prototype manufacturing.

Brian comes to UTPB after having been the Director of Technology Commercialization at the University of Houston for the past 3 years. Prior to that he worked in technology transfer roles at LSU and UCLA. He founded and ran a private consulting company focused on the nexus between university technology transfer and small business. Brian earned MS and PhD degrees from UCLA in Mechanical Engineering, and BS In Mechanical Engineering from University of Colorado, and a BA in Physical Science from Southwestern University.


Dirk Benedict Paul Tumarkin, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications for Tech Launch Arizona (TLA), and his team develop and execute TLA’s marketing strategies, managing the organization’s web and social media presences, marketing the inventions of the University of Arizona, and extending TLA’s reach across the university community, as well as out to the greater business community. Prior to joining TLA, he spent three years with institutional marketing at the UA.

He made the jump from academia to business in the mid-1990s, gaining experience developing communications and branding solutions for corporations, nonprofits, and agencies alike. He also spent several years freelancing, primarily for clients in the education technology sector. Paul received his BA from Colorado College and his MA in Spanish Literature from the University of California, Irvine.


Dirk Benedict Julie M. Watson is a patent attorney and member of the transactions practice group at Marshall Gerstein & Borun, LLP, a Chicago-based intellectual property law firm. A licensing professional with deep experience in structuring and negotiating deals to deliver strategic solutions, Julie concentrates her practice on intellectual property transactions with a particular emphasis in technology startups and university technology transfer. Julie’s prior work includes managing nonprofit intellectual property licensing programs including the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the American Medical Association. Julie received her law degree from Wake Forest University Law School and is admitted to practice law in Illinois, North Carolina and before the USPTO, and holds a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and is a Certified Licensing Professional. Julie is a long-time member of AUTM and LES and frequent speaker and educator on intellectual property and transaction issues.