TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 11, 2022) – Six USF faculty members have been named by the National Academy of Inventors to its new class of Senior Members. No university in the country has more faculty named to this year’s class than USF.
The newly elected faculty members have devoted their careers to inventing high-tech tools for a myriad of applications and blazing a trail for the next generation of innovators. Their work spans a range of research areas, including robotics, molecular microbiology and neuroscience.
With six selections, USF tied Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Houston for the most of any institution in the U.S.
“The University of South Florida is a national leader in research and innovation, with world-class faculty who are discovering solutions to global problems and changing lives,” USF President Rhea Law said. “This diverse, distinguished group of faculty named senior members of the National Academy of Inventors have earned this recognition for dedicating their careers to improving our society.”
NAI Senior Members are active faculty, scientists and administrators from NAI member institutions who have demonstrated remarkable innovation producing technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society. They also have proven success in patents, licensing and commercialization.
“Truly gifted innovators and inventors see their creations not only as something they’ve done, but also as a vision to move forward,” said Sylvia Thomas, interim vice president for research and innovation at USF. “All six of these outstanding USF faculty members are transforming the world, beyond its capabilities, and are inspiring the next generation of students and innovators into an even brighter future.”
The six new USF NAI Senior Members are listed below. (Full bios are available here).
Rajiv Dubey, professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Center for Assistive, Rehabilitation & Robotics Technologies (CARRT) — His research interests include assistive robotics, prosthetics, rehabilitation engineering and robotics in health care, space, undersea, and nuclear waste management. He has published over 275 refereed articles and directed over 70 doctoral dissertations and master’s degree theses. He has been issued six full U.S. patents.
Loree C. Heller, associate professor in the Department of Medical Engineering, a joint department between the Morsani College of Medicine and the College of Engineering — Her research has focused on molecular microbiology, the evaluation of antibiotic alternatives and the bio-effects of gene therapies delivered by physical methods. She was the first to discover that complete tumor regression of solid tumors can occur when control backbone pDNA is electroporated into different tumor types.
Merry Lynn Morris, the interim chair for the Dance Program— Her interdisciplinary work intersects with disability studies, design, architecture, engineering and health sciences. Morris has worked collaboratively across the domains of dance and engineering to invent new mobility devices. Publications include five U.S. patents and over 45 scholarly research products — print and artistic.
Anna Pyayt, associate professor in the Department of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering — She is the head of the Innovative Biomedical Instruments and Systems Lab. She designed and developed many innovative systems and instruments including Telescopic Pixel display technology (a competitor to LCD) that was created in collaboration with Microsoft Research.
Juan Sanchez-Ramos, the Helen Ellis Endowed Professor in the Department of Neurology — His neuroscience research has included studies of drug dependence, toxicant-induced neurodegeneration, stem cell biology and novel approaches for delivery of gene therapy. His research team discovered the Huntington’s Disease gene in 1992. He has been awarded eight U.S. patents and has over 300 publications to his credit.
Daniel Yeh, professor of environmental engineering and leader of the Membrane Biotechnology Laboratory — One of his most impactful inventions is the NEWgenerator — a portable and self-contained solar-powered toilet system that converts the collected waste into renewable energy, fertilizer nutrients and clean water that can be used for irrigation of crops. The NEWgenerator has been deployed and commercialized in India and South Africa. To date, Yeh has published over 47 peer-reviewed journal papers and been issued seven U.S. patents.
Senior Members are elected biannually, and nominations are accepted on a rolling basis. Nominations are currently being accepted for the next Senior Member class.
A full list of NAI Senior Members is available on the NAIwebsite.
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 U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, 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 publishes the multidisciplinary journal, Technology & Innovation. www.academyofinventors.org.