Feb. 23, 2023

The UNLV Office of the President, UNLV Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, UNLV Graduate College, UNLV Office of Economic Development, and Black Fire Innovation are pleased to announce the teams that have advanced to the final round of the 2nd annual President's Innovation Challenge, a multidisciplinary team competition that encourages social and business entrepreneurship to help solve major problems of our day in Southern Nevada and beyond. 

This year's competition commenced in fall 2022 with 20 teams. From there, 16 teams submitted proposals to answer this year's competition challenge centered around sustainability. The most competitive proposals were selected, and seven teams have moved on to the final round.

During spring 2023, the teams will build final proposals to address the problem statement and present them at the final President's Innovation Challenge showcase event on May 1 at 4 p.m. in the Thomas & Mack Center Strip View Pavilion. A panel of judges will award prizes, including a $25,000 grand prize. The event is open to the public, and registration is encouraged.

Congratulations to the teams that advanced to the final round:

Team: Scarlet and Green

  • Team Mantra:  Putting a Scarlet Twist on Sustainability
  • Mentor/Faculty Advisor: Dr. Caitlin Saladino
  • Zachary Billot,  Political Science
  • Mary  Blankenship,  Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Miguel  Soriano Ralston,  Political Science
  • Jacob  Vecchione,  Civil Engineering
  • Annie  Vong,  Political Science

Team: YouChef

  • Team Mantra:  Reducing food waste, one SCAN at a time
  • Mentor/Faculty Advisor:  Dr. Ian McDonough
  • Allister  Dias,  Economics
  • Ferris Ferris,  Engineering
  • Vianey  Lozoya,  Architecture
  • Richard  Palenik, MBA
  • Christen  Smith,  Hospitality

Team: LutumPotentia

  • Team Mantra:  Turning your spoil into soil
  • Mentor/Faculty Advisors:  Lauren Boitel and  Dave Ray 
  • Nour  Benjelloun,  Philosophy & Law
  • Andres  Carrasco,  Marketing
  • Ryder  Hankins,  Marketing & International Business
  • Scott  Luk, Management Information Systems
  • Angie  Shenouda,  Gender & Sexuality Studies

Team: WellSpaTech

  • Team Mantra:  Bringing health and wellness to a property near you
  • Mentor/Faculty Advisor:  Glenn Nowak
  • Daphne  Cuellar,  Architecture
  • Natalie  Klainer,  Architecture
  • Sherrie  Tennessee,  Hospitality


  • Team Mantra:  A Look into a Greener and More Economical Future
  • Mentor/Faculty Advisor: Dr.  Gregory A. Borchard
  • Haley  Cabias,  Marketing
  • Taylor  Finelli,  Computer Science
  • Maryam  Raja,  Political Science
  • Daniel  Valdes,  Electrical and Computer Engineering

Team: Local Cup

  • Team Mantra:  Save a cup, grow the meadows
  • Mentor/Faculty Advisor: Dr.  Kenneth Varner
  • Justus  King, Public Policy
  • Tam  Nguyen,  Finance
  • Karla Nicole  Opiniano,  Landscape Architecture
  • Gabby  Weaver,  Art