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Innovation: Four scientists with USF ties named fellows in National Academy of Inventors

Thomas Weller
Thomas Weller
Published Dec. 14, 2016

Times staff

TAMPA — Three University of South Florida faculty inventors whose work has led to advances in electronics, biometrics and anticancer drugs, as well as a USF alumnus who has created a range of cutting-edge technologies, have been selected as fellows in the National Academy of Inventors.

Faculty members Thomas Weller, Sudeep Sarkar and Nicholas Lawrence, along with USF alumnus Israel Morejon, will be formally inducted as part of a 175-member fellows class at the sixth annual NAI conference in Boston in April. Induction is considered the highest professional distinction specifically accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a "prolific spirit of innovation."

Weller chairs the department of electrical engineering in the USF College of Engineering and has 29 patents in communications systems engineering. He cofounded the USF spinoff company Modelithics, whose customers include major U.S. defense contractors Harris Corp., Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.

Sarkar, chair of the department of computer science & engineering in the USF College of Engineering, developed a new imaging device that can be used to collect data about the physical characteristics of human skin critical in diagnosing diseases such as melanoma. He also pioneered the area of gait biometrics, which analyzes the unique characteristics of the ways in which individuals walk.

Lawrence is a professor in the department of oncologic sciences at USF and a senior member of Moffitt Cancer Center's drug discovery department, where he has made important contributions in designing and synthesizing organic molecules to act as anticancer agents.

And Morejon, chief technology officer at enVerid Systems, is an inventor and manufacturer of LED lighting and guided missile technologies. He is a USF alumnus with a degree in engineering and member of the board of directors for the USF Research Foundation.

The NAI was founded at USF 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.

USF now has 18 faculty members who are NAI fellows. With the election of the 2016 class, there are now 757 NAI fellows representing 229 research universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutes.

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