2022 Newhall Lecture to focus on tapping into the innovator in you

Groundbreaking innovators, Nan-Wei Gong and Anirudh Sharma, are coming to speak at Elon University’s C. Ashton Newhall Lecture Series on Tuesday, Nov. 15. Both Nan-Wei and Anirudh have extensive experiences as MIT Lab scientists and founders of technologically progressive companies.

Groundbreaking innovators Nan-Wei Gong and Anirudh Sharma will speak as part of the C. Ashton Newhall Lecture Series on Tuesday, Nov. 15. Both will share about their experiences as MIT Lab scientists and founders of technologically progressive companies.

The interdisciplinary backgrounds of these two innovators have the power to inspire just about anyone. Ashton Newhall ‘98, who has underwritten this annual speaker series, hopes that this event inspires people to understand that anything is possible.

Graviky Labs graphic
Graviky Labs graphic

Sharma, a co-founder of Graviky Labs and Lechal Shoes, is using his innovations for the greater good. Graviky Labs focuses on transforming pollutants into ink and plastics, with the mission of reducing CO2 emissions and contributing to a greener future. The pollution upcycling company was founded in 2016 and has since collaborated with top credit card company, Mastercard & Doconomy, and materials science and apparel company, Pangaia, in efforts to insert its AIR-INK technology on ordinary items.


Sharma’s second company, Lechal Shoes, is a GPS smart shoe company that helps provide hands-free navigation. Paige Mullis, who leads innovation at Glen Raven and is a Doherty Center Advisory Board member, has worked with Anirudh and has been extremely impressed with his drive and ingenuity. “He took something ‘everyday’ and made it magical,” Mullis says.

Nan-Wei Gong is the founder and CEO of Figur8, a musculoskeletal diagnostics decision support system that tracks body movement using AI data-driven sensors. This smart technology company was founded in 2016 and designed to improve Musculoskeletal (MSK) biometrics in health care which includes conditions related to joints, bones and muscles.

Figur8 has been noted as a state-of-the-art sports lab, providing objective, actionable data around MSK function. Additionally, her experiences include three successful start-ups, including one acquired by Google. “Yes, she is super smart, but also very down to earth, has a great sense of humor and can play a mean violin,” Paige Mullis says about her interactions with Gong. “Her brain is like a sponge, she can pull knowledge and apply it seamlessly.”

Gong’s ambition and relentless work ethic, in conjunction with her ability to have fun, can be an inspiration to anybody.

These two young MIT Lab scientists and innovators share an understanding of the importance of an interactive experience. “When you are trying to solve hard global challenges, you have to go to the places where the problem actually exists,” Sharma says about his unique perspective. “You can’t invent in America hoping to airdrop solutions in, for example, Africa and Asia.”

Gong conducted a similar approach when she reviewed the beginnings of her work in Mass General’s sports science lab, evaluating the equipment that is usually only available for someone like Tom Brady, a world-renowned athlete.

Together, these two cutting-edge scientists and innovators will speak to the dynamic interaction between science, innovation and entrepreneurship and the journey they each took to launch their companies at the annual C. Ashton Newhall event this coming Tuesday.

“I hope this speaker series shows the students that the speakers were once like them, students with dreams and the desire to make a difference,” Newhall said.

Mark your calendars to witness Nan-Wei Gong and Anirudh Sharma’s stories in person on Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 4:30 p.m. in LaRose Theatre in Koury Business Center.