ISTC Advocacy Council

Mission Statement

The Illinois Science & Technology Coalition Advocacy Council exists to inform the policy advocacy activities of the organization, which focus on fostering economic development and job growth in Illinois through effective research, commercialization, entrepreneurship, and immigration policies. In this role, the Council represents the organization’s membership to guide ISTC’s policy agenda by identifying gaps in the ecosystem that state and/or federal policy could fill. The Council works with ISTC leadership to craft new or updated policies to fill existing gaps and meet the needs of Illinois’ innovation community. Finally, the Council works to assist ISTC to advance these policy initiatives to implementation.



T.J. Augustine, Ph.D.

Interim Vice Chancellor for Innovation, University of Illinois at Chicago

TJ Augustine is the Interim Vice Chancellor for Innovation for the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where he coordinates the technology commercialization and entrepreneurship activities that are part of UIC’s innovation ecosystem, and a professor in the Department of Chemistry. The units reporting to Dr. Augustine include ACCC, Extended Campus, and a new office focused on corporate relationships. Previously, Augustine served as Associate Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation for the University of Illinois System where he was responsible for providing strategic leadership in identifying potential public-private partnerships and enhancing connections among internal and external stakeholders to foster innovation and technology commercialization.

Jerry Blazey, Ph.D.

Vice President for Research and Innovation Partnerships, Northern Illinois University

Gerald “Jerry” Blazey oversees Northern Illinois University research endeavors. He plays a crucial role advancing the mission of the university by supporting individual researchers and building teams and collaborations across units and with other institutions. A scientist specializing in high energy particle physics, Dr. Blazey took on his current role in May 2015. From 2011 to 2014, he served as a senior policy advisor at the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the U.S. President, where he was involved with the development of President Obama’s budgets for the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). 

Laura Frerichs

Executive Director at the University of Illinois Research Park and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Economic Development

Laura Frerichs oversees the University of Illinois Research Park operations and development, manages the entrepreneurship programs at EnterpriseWorks technology incubator, and supports the University’s economic development efforts. She also serves as Director of Economic Development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and supports special projects of the Chancellor’s Economic Development Council.

Bob Greenlee

Consultant, Tuck Strategies & Senior Advisor, Illinois Science & Technology Coalition

In addition to his role with Tuck Strategies, Bob Greenlee provides strategic advisory, legal, public advocacy, and project management experience to his role as Senior Advisor to the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition. Prior to working at ISTC, Bob worked as an attorney in private practice at the Quinlan Law Firm LLC and at Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Bob also worked at the State of Illinois serving as Deputy Governor, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Office of the Governor, and Deputy Director of the Illinois Office of Management and Budget.

Fred Hickernell, Ph.D.

Vice Provost for Research, Professor of Applied Mathematics, Illinois Institute of Technology

Fred Hickernell is Vice Provost for Research and professor of applied mathematics at the Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech). Fred works on elevating Illinois Tech’s research programs. This includes (1) helping implement a new research support services team for the university, (2) helping to build up the university’s interdisciplinary large-scale proposal writing team, (3) ensuring that Illinois Tech is investing appropriately in research infrastructure, (4) ensuring that the university is offering sufficient professional development to faculty in proposal writing and managing research teams, and many other items related to revitalizing our research enterprise.

Catherine Vorwald

Director of Life Sciences, Sterling Bay

Ms. Vorwald currently serves as Director of Life Science at Sterling Bay where she oversees the development and operations of Sterling Bay’s Life Sciences portfolio. She previously served as Associate Vice Provost of Technology Development at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Executive Director of the University Technology Park at IIT. She served previously at the Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute of Florida as Executive Director of Technology Transfer and Business Development with the mandate to grow the intellectual property portfolio and execute complicated sponsored research agreements.