Veteran Innovation Series: Ideas at Work

The Veteran Innovation Series brings Veterans who are some of the most successful innovators in their field to the University of Iowa to build connections with our graduate and professional students, and to provide UI graduate student Veterans with the opportunity to share their expertise. Speakers share stories of innovations, creativity, and problem-solving, helping us reimagine what it means to be a military Veteran in the twenty-first century. The Veteran Innovation Series is open to the public. 

Each 90-minute seminar features either a speaker with a large platform to share their journey toward innovation, or two graduate student Veterans from the University of Iowa. The series provides the opportunity for graduate student Veterans in our community to collaborate across disciplines, promote their research, and network with successful Veterans whose innovation has given them a broader platform.   

The Veteran Innovation Series is hosted by Iowa Veteran Education, Transition, and Support (IVETS) with generous support for the spring 2021 events from the Graduate College, the Tippie College of Business, the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology in Carver College of Medicine, and the Office of the Vice President for Research

Become a VIS Speaker

Who's eligible to apply?

All currently enrolled graduate and professional students at the University of Iowa who are Veterans of the US military or currently serving in the US military are eligible to apply.

Successful applicants will: 

  • Apply by March 15, 2021
  • Share their research in an accessible, approachable way for non-experts in their field
  • Articulate why their research is innovative and why it matters, e.g. what work it is doing in the world
  • Receive a $200 honorarium upon completion of their participation in the event


Apply Now

What happens if I'm selected?

IVETS will select two graduate and professional students from the spring 2021 applicants in March 2021. Applications are due by March 15, 2021. VIS speakers will be announced during Dr. Trill Paullin's talk on March 24, 2021. VIS speakers will give a 30-minute virtual presentation, open to the university and surrounding community, in April. There will be a 30-minute combined Q & A with the audience immediately following the presentations. 

Veteran Innovation Series

Veteran Innovation Series: Dr. Trill Paullin  promotional image

Veteran Innovation Series: Dr. Trill Paullin

Wednesday, March 24, 2021 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Dr. Trillitye Paullin is a molecular biologist, entrepreneur, and Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran serving her 15th year in the Army National Guard. After learning her daughters had severe food allergies transferred through breastmilk, Dr. Paullin founded Free to Feed, a place for parents to find answers to their questions about infant food sensitivities and empower them to continue their breastfeeding journey. Dr. Paullin will discuss how her experiences in the military inform her…

Soldier with vehicle

About Dr. Trillitye Paullin 

Instead of a legacy, my family passed down generations of physical and sexual abuse. I wanted more for my children than hospitals, foster homes, and courthouses. I dreamed of a day when I could provide unity, support, and stability for my family. Throughout my adolescent years, I often thought about my future. I decided the only way to achieve my dreams was to continue my education beyond high school and to surround myself with highly successful and motivated individuals. The means to accomplish this occurred during my last semester of high school when an Army National Guard recruiter visited my school. At only seventeen, I enlisted in the National Guard, and I am proud to say that I am still serving today.

At nineteen years old, I deployed to Iraq. I was faced with the harsh realization that the country to which I was deployed did not share the freedoms that I had experienced in my life. Consequently, I witnessed true adversity as I was thrust into a world where poverty, hunger, and rampant disease were a part of everyday life.

Being one of the few women in the country to serve in the military has proven to be an integral part of my identity. I discovered that the abuse inflicted upon me as a child does not define the woman I am today. I have overcome my past and will continue to make a difference in the lives of others. The military has given me the strength to shed the yoke of abuse and focus on the amazing career and philanthropic opportunities that await.

My passion as a Molecular Biologist and mother of two daughters with food allergies led to me founding Free to Feed, Inc. F2F creates science-based content for allergen-free breastfeeding and is developing products to empower parents through infant allergies. We have patented the technology for mothers to analyze their breast milk for allergen proteins. This endeavor is supported by my Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of South Florida and a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry from Minot State University.

In addition to my professional civilian career, I am presently serving my 15th year in the Army National Guard and I am a proud Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran. Like many Veterans, I felt the need to continue service in my community, which led me to The Mission Continues (TMC). TMC is a nation-wide non-profit organization dedicated to bringing together veterans and civilians to solve challenging issues in communities through service projects. I served as a volunteer for the Tampa Platoon for three years and then focused on bringing TMC to Boise. After years of applying, I became the Boise 1st Platoon Leader and officially kicked off the program in November 2018 with a mission focused on improving youth education in the Treasure Valley.

TMC Boise 1st Platoon’s first event was held on November 17, 2018 at the Nampa Salvation Army Community Family Shelter. Over 50 volunteers renovated the building to include creating an education center, pouring an ADA compliant wheelchair accessible ramp, re-mulching the entire playground, and improving fire safety exits. That was only the beginning!

Over the past 18 months, I have led the Platoon to complete over 35 service projects across the Treasure Valley coordinated with hundreds of volunteers. This incredible initiative completely renovated the Nampa Salvation Army Gymnasium and after school program with over 125 volunteers, built the Central Elementary School Community Garden, created the Union High School outdoor classroom, and refurbished McMillan’s Elementary School baseball field, just to highlight a few. Hundreds of veterans, their families, and supporters have joined forces with businesses like Home Depot, Starbucks, CarMax, Brookdale, and Darigold to make a tangible impact on youth education here in the Boise area. We have also supported other local non-profits such as United Way, Military Order of the Purple Heart, and Operation Grateful Hearts by providing valuable expertise and manpower to their events.

Lighting the path for others illuminates our own journey. Every action that I take is in service to others which has created amazing opportunities for my family and those around us. The military has given me a platform to serve my country. Free to Feed was created to solve a problem that my family faced so others no longer must struggle through that pain. Building The Mission Continues Platoon in the Treasure Valley has made an enormous impact on the veteran and youth community. Empowering my employees and peers at Darigold builds a stronger culture and workforce.

These are a few examples of how being service minded has created influence all around me. This was largely instilled upon me during my time in the Army. A community is only as strong as its weakest individual points, so I focus on improvement for those areas. Focused effort on items, such as a lack of accurate information in the allergy space or a shortage of resources for our school systems, creates tangible change.

After I returned from overseas, I made it my mission to take full advantage of the freedom afforded to me. This includes building a better world for the generations after me, such as my two young daughters. I strive to build a company that will empower women who want to continue breastfeeding. I strive to build a non-profit chapter that will thrive and provide service opportunities for decades to come. I strive to make real impact as a department manager to improve systems for those who will take my place.