Innovation Collaboratory

Creating Opportunities. Advancing Solutions.

Columns from the Collaboratory

 The Official Monthly Newsletter of the Innovation Collaboratory

About the Innovation Collaboratory

In spring 2018, the Department of Agricultural Education began offering its entrepreneurial leadership and innovation courses in the newly created Innovation Collaboratory. The Collaboratory, which is located in Saguaro Hall, Room 127, was created in 2018 with support from the Dorrance Scholarship Program. This unique learning space is designed to enhance the development of CALS students, faculty, and statewide stakeholders in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurial leadership. In particular, the Collaboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art collaborative learning technologies and resources that foster creativity, ingenuity, and higher order strategic thinking. In addition to hosting entrepreneurial leadership and innovation courses, the Collaboratory will support a series of faculty and student workshops aimed at increasing the entrepreneurial activities and innovative initiatives across CALS. Dr. Matthew Mars, Assistant Professor of Agricultural Leadership and Innovation, is the Founder and Academic Director of the Collaboratory and Mr. Emre Toker, CALS Innovator-in-Residence, is the Managing Director. For more information on the Innovation Collaboratory, please contact Dr. Mars at Innovation Collaboratory: Creating Opportunities. Advancing Solutions.

Event: Leaders and the Professional Entrepreneurial Mindset

Join Tucson leaders in discussing how they utilize, value, and foster the entrepreneurial mindset in their work and across their organizations. Panel participants include:

Kristen Garcia-Hernandez, CEO, Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona

Liz Pocock, CEO, Start-Up Tucson Julie Sherrill, Head, The Gregory


Gayatri Vedantam, University of Arizona Professor of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences

ALC  409: Team and Organizational Leadership

In the decades to come, Millennials and Gen-Z workers will make up much of the American workforce. With both generations being known to value collaboration over competition, as employers, they understand the importance of teamwork, and are attracted to employees that help form a culture reflective of that. As such, teamwork is one of the most sought-after skills in the workplace. It brings together colleagues with varied experiences, skills, and work histories, to in turn create a fertile ground for brainstorming, creative problem-solving, innovation, and solution-driven thinking.

ALC 409 empowers students to identify and strengthen talents through a carefully charted, practical journey in interpersonal leadership development. In this course, each student will gain the competencies and skills associated with team dynamics used to meet today’s challenges. Students will then come away with the ability to recognize team roles and responsibilities, apply persuasion and influence, manage team conflict, and exercise situational, transactional, and transformational leadership. Anchored in a semester-long  service-learning project, students will actively apply, reflect, and evaluate their development of interpersonal leadership skills through project planning, coordination, execution, and presentation.

Interpersonal leadership skills are relevant to all students who aspire to work with others, lead a team, and/or an organization. Master these principles and practices, and set yourself apart amongst top employers.

This low-enrollment course fills quickly, so register through UAccess today!

ALC 410/510: Entrepreneurial Leadership in Agriculture and the Life Science

The value of an entrepreneurial mindset is skyrocketing! Employers across all industries and sectors are in search of graduates with a capacity to think and act in entrepreneurial ways. Likewise, the need for entrepreneurial leaders who are equipped to develop and act on innovative solutions to the challenges that communities and our environment face has never been greater.

ALC 410 helps you develop and enhance the skills and competencies that characterize the entrepreneurial mindset: creativity, critical thinking and analysis, data-informed decision-making, innovative solution development, market and needs assessment, and strategic communication and storytelling. The course is project-based to include  a range of active and collaborative learning experiences in one of the most unique settings on campus: The Innovation Collaboratory—home of the whiteboard ping-pong table!

Learning the entrepreneurial mindset and gaining entrepreneurial leadership skills is relevant to everyone, especially students who aspire to be:

  • agriculturalists

  • community developers

  • conservationists

  • educators

  • engineers

  • nutritionists

  • physicians

  • scientists

  • veterinarians

  • any other career path in which you want to be a leader of change and have an impact on others!


This low-enrollment course fills quickly, so register through UAccess today!




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Matthew Mars

Dr. Matthew Mars, Assistant Professor of Agricultural Leadership and Innovation, is the Founder and Director of the Innovation Collaboratory. Dr. Mars has over a decade of experience teaching innovation and entrepreneurial leadership courses (undergraduate and graduate level) using collaborative and project-based learning approaches and designs. This experience  directly informs the flexible and interactive design of the Collaboratory. Dr. Mars maintains an active research agenda that intersects innovation and entrepreneurial leadership with community development, education, and localism. His research has been published in a diverse range of journals that include Agriculture and Human Values, Journal of Higher Education, Journal of Management Inquiry, Organizational Dynamics, and Rural Sociology. For more information, please visit his faculty webpage at:

Emre Toker

 As managing director of the Collaboratory, Emre Toker is the inaugural Mentor-in-Residence of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.  He founded 3 successful life sciences companies and invested in and mentored numerous other successful startups.  Through the Innovation Collaboratory, Toker will guide practical workshops in both classroom and online settings, connect faculty and students with other mentors and experts, provide opportunities for one-on-one discussions, and facilitate connections between the UA and local and national innovation and entrepreneurship partners —including angel investor groups, industry, start-ups, Tech Launch Arizona, StartUp Tucson and venture capital firms.

Tyler Thorp

As the research and teaching assistant for the innovation classes and curriculum, Tyler Thorp is a Ph.D. student in the Agricultural Education and Higher Education dual program. She is available as a peer mentor for students and to facilitate research and development for the innovation collaboratory to ensure the programs are constantly evolving and adapting to new technologies and insights. 

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Delaney, P. G., Harrington, K., & Toker, E. (2019). Undergraduate Student-Run Business Development Services Firms: A New Educational Opportunity and Growth Alternative for Small and Medium EnterprisesEntrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy2(2), 171-187.

Mars, M. M., & Schau, H. J. (2018). The Jazziness of Local Food Practice Work: Organization‐Level Ingenuity and the Entrepreneurial Formation and Evolution of Local Food SystemsRural Sociology.

Mars, M. M., & Torres, R. M. (2018). Developing collegiate student proclivities for entrepreneurial leadershipThe Journal of Leadership Education.

Mars, M. M., & Schau, H. J. (2018). What Is Local Food Entrepreneurship? Variations in the Commercially and Socially Oriented Features of Entrepreneurship in the Southeastern Arizona Local Food SystemRural Sociology83(3), 568-597.

Mars, M. M., & Bronstein, J. L. (2018). The promise of the organizational ecosystem metaphor: An argument for biological rigor. Journal of Management Inquiry27(4), 382-391.

Mars, M. M., & Schau, H. J. (2017). Institutional entrepreneurship and the negotiation and blending of multiple logics in the Southern Arizona local food systemAgriculture and human values34(2), 407-422.

Szelényi, K., Bresonis, K., & Mars, M. M. (2016). Who Am I versus Who Can I Become?: Exploring Women's Science Identities in STEM Ph. D. ProgramsThe Review of Higher Education40(1), 1-31.

Mars, M. M., Bresonis, K., & Szelényi, K. (2014). Science and engineering doctoral student socialization, logics, and the national economic agenda: Alignment or disconnect?Minerva52(3), 351-379.

Mars, M. M., Bronstein, J. L., & Lusch, R. F. (2012). The value of a metaphor: Organizations and ecosystemsOrganizational Dynamics41(4), 271-280.