The professors earn one of the nation’s most prestigious honors for academic inventors
TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 7, 2021) – Three University of South Florida faculty members whose inventions in engineering, molecular medicine and chemistry are shaping drug discovery, environmental sustainability and modern dental care have been selected as new National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellows.
They are USF College of Engineering Professor Norma Alcantar, USF Institute for Advanced Discovery & Innovation Professor Sumita Mitra, and Morsani College of Medicine Professor Subhra Mohapatra.
“Through their brilliant ideas and tireless efforts, these three inventors have created an incalculable impact on our world that is as impressive as it is inspiring,” USF President Rhea Law said. “The honor of being named an NAI Fellow not only recognizes their achievements but also celebrates them as trailblazing women who continue to encourage and mentor a new generation of innovators in pursuing the fullest measures of their abilities and ambitions.”
The faculty members are among 164 distinguished academic inventors from 116 research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes worldwide who make up the 2021 class of Fellows. They will be formally recognized in June at the NAI’s 2022 annual conference in Phoenix.
The selections bring USF’s total number of NAI Fellows to 26. Meet this year’s honorees:
Norma A. Alcantar
Professor of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering
USF College of Engineering Associate Dean for Research
Alcantar is a global pioneer in developing innovative natural technologies for environmental, medical and industrial applications who this year was named a new inductee to the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame. She is internationally recognized for her inventions to filter contaminants from fresh water and provide clean drinking water in areas around the world lacking access to clean water; create new technologies for clearing up oil spills; implement a hybrid technology to remove bacteria and ammonia from aquaculture systems; and create novel therapies for Alzheimer’s disease and treatments for cancer tumor cells. She holds 22 U.S. patents.
Sumita B. Mitra
Mitra is an inductee to the National Inventors Hall of Fame. She previously worked for more than 32 years as a corporate scientist in the 3M Oral Care Division where she became the first inventor to incorporate nanoparticle into dental materials to produce stronger, more durable and more aesthetically pleasing fillings in products used by more than a billion people worldwide. She is the recipient of 100 U.S. patents and their corresponding global equivalents. A part-time Florida resident, her passion is in mentoring activities for STEM education at all levels.
Professor of Molecular Medicine
Mohapatra is a pioneering scientist/researcher whose work over 26 years has been instrumental in advancing the frontiers of drug delivery and cancer treatment. She developed a novel 3D scaffold for cell culture, now universally known as “tumor-on-a-disc” technology, enabling scientists to grow tumors in the lab that can be used to culture patient biopsies, test for anticancer compounds, and allow tailoring of personalized cancer treatment. This platform has led to a line of cell biology products that have been commercialized globally. She also pioneered novel methods significantly advancing drug delivery for cancer. She holds 18 patents and one foreign patent for her work.
To date, NAI Fellows hold more than 48,000 issued U.S. patents, which have generated more than 13,000 licensed technologies and companies, and created more than one million jobs. In addition, over $3 trillion in revenue has been generated based on NAI Fellow discoveries.
The NAI was founded at USF in 2010 and since has grown to boast a membership of over 200 institutions in the U.S. and around the world.
The complete list of NAI Fellows is available here.
About the University of South Florida
The University of South Florida, a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success, generates an annual economic impact of more than $6 billion. Over the past 10 years, no other public university in the country has risen faster in U.S. News and World Report’s national university rankings than USF. Serving more than 50,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, USF is designated as a Preeminent State Research University by the Florida Board of Governors, placing it in the most elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF has earned widespread national recognition for its success graduating under-represented minority and limited-income students at rates equal to or higher than white and higher income students. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference. Learn more at www.usf.edu.
About the National Academy of Inventors
The National Academy of Inventors is a member organization comprising U.S. and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutes, with over 4,000 individual inventor members and Fellows spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide. It was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate, and mentor innovative students, and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society. The NAI has a close partnership with the USPTO and is one of three honorific organizations, along with the National Medals and National Inventors Hall of Fame, working closely with the USPTO on many discovery and innovation support initiatives. The NAI publishes the multidisciplinary journal, Technology and Innovation. www.academyofinventors.org.