Previous Winners of the Nicholas Marcalus Award for Sustainability

2014 Awardee: Grigore Burdea, Founder and President, Bright Cloud International Corp.


Grigore Burdea graduated at the top of his college class in his native Romania. Thereafter he received a full fellowship from NYU to pursue a Doctorate in Robotics. In 1988, Burdea became Assistant Professor at Rutgers where he is now Full Professor. At Rutgers Burdea founded the Human Machine Interface Laboratory and subsequently the well known Tele Rehabilitation Institute.

Burdea’s research was ahead of its time, and attracted the attention of the White House. President Clinton cited him two years in a row to Congress as example of leading edge federally funded research. With 163 referenced publications and textbooks translated in French, Spanish and Chinese and used at 120 universities in the world, Burdea had become an internationally

recognized expert in the area of virtual reality technology and subsequently its use in rehabilitation. His research results were literally changing the life of people, such as the teen with Cerebral Palsy who was able to use his hand for the first time after undergoing remote rehabilitation in Indiana on a modified PlayStation 3 that Burdea devised.

This and other research received media coverage in CNN, Japanese National TV, Discover Magazine, New York Times, and others.

In 2008 Burdea founded and is CEO of the International Society on Virtual Rehabilitation ( ). In 2009 he founded and is President of Bright Cloud International Corp ( ) (BCI) so to better translate his inventions to clinical use. The company received several highly competitive Small Business Innovation Research Awards (SBIR). Its first device, the BrightArm was awarded 3rd prize in a national venture medical robotics competition. Subsequently he developed BrightBrainer ( ), a portable system for integrative brain exercising through games. It reversed a type of dementia considered incurable and was launched at the LeadingAge Expo in October 2014. Burdea has numerous patents, including some with his company.

2013 Awardee: Mitrajit Mukherjee, Founder and President, Exelus

Click Here to Watch a Video of Our 2013 Honoree


Mitrajit Mukherjee came to this country from India in 1986 to pursue higher education in engineering. After finishing his master’s degree in Chemical Engineering, he worked alongside Nobel Laureate Professor Henry Taube at Catalytica, a start-up company in California, and then at Lummus, a large engineering company in New Jersey, developing process technologies.

Recognizing the urgent need for “greener technologies” for producing clean-fuels and chemicals, he founded Exelus in 2000, the height of the dot-com craze. Exelus, a 20-employee company, now based in Fairfield, NJ, develops and licenses “Cleaner-by-Design” chemical technologies to produce a vast array of products and materials used in consumer products, transportation and food processing. The company’s break-through technologies are energy efficient, eco-friendly and economically attractive – resulting in a win-win situation for the environment and the manufacturers.

Currently Exelus is focused on developing a viable platform technology to convert non-edible biomass (such as switchgrass, corn-stover, and sorghum) into valuable fuels and chemicals. The company uses innovative chemistry and “green” catalysts to speed up the conversion of biomass – a process that takes millions of years in nature.

As it stands today, biomass-to-fuels technologies are not cost effective with conventional fossil fuel based processes. The Exelus process uses innovative chemical routes (which are very different from what most researchers are currently working on) to make the process economically attractive.

Oil has been the mainstay for our transportation fuel needs, but unfortunately we are close to or past peak oil, and there is an increased need to look at renewable sources for our transportation needs. Non-edible biomass is one such source. Exelus wants to be ready with a solution that doesn’t hit your pocketbook