Dr. Marija Gajdardziska-Josifovska, co-founder and CTO of COnovate, recently announced her exit from the Company. Dr. Gajdardziska-Josifovska co-founded COnovate in 2016 with Dr. Carol Hirschmugl under the name SafeLi LLC, with the intention of advancing graphene monoxide (GmO)-based materials to a scalable, commercialized active anode material for lithium-ion batteries. The discovery of the first form of solid carbon monoxide at room temperature and pressure was made by Marija and her co-founder, Dr. Carol Hirschmugl, with colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). Dr. Gajdardziska-Josifovska frequently referred to Louis Pasteur’s observation that “fortune favors the prepared mind.” This principle was embodied by the ability of the discovery team to recognize that something interesting was afoot when we gathered the unexpected observations of the novel material and verified its existence.
Dr. Gajdardziska-Josifovska and Hirschmugl’s joint vision was to identify a commercially viable use of GmO-based materials, and the path to fund the scale-up of this material, which was discovered at the level of nanograms. Working together with Carol and the current Director of Technology Development, Dr. Marvin Schofield, Marija worked tirelessly to understand the battery market ecosystem through over 250 “customer interviews.” The National Science Foundation ICorps™ program was instrumental in transforming this team of academics into entrepreneurs. In parallel, this team has succeeded in scaling this material by 13 orders of magnitude to kilogram production. The Company is appreciative of Marija’s contributions and efforts that were instrumental to all this work.
Prior to starting COnovate, Marija’s illustrious career included working as a researcher in multiple countries (including Macedonia, France, and Australia),earning a PhD in Physics at Arizona State University. She continued her work as a Professor of Physics and Director of the Laboratory for Transmission Electron Microscopy at UWM. Marija was awarded the prestigious Presidential Faculty Fellow in 1995 by President Clinton, given to only the top 12 scientists in the nation. During her nearly thirty-year tenure at UWM, she was also a successful administrator, holding multiple esteemed positions while successfully continuing her scientific endeavors, including Chair of the Physics Department, Associate Dean for Natural Sciences, and Graduate Dean.
Marija remains a COnovate shareholder and a board observer. She plans to reside in California and continue her scientific endeavors and spend more time with her family.