COS Faculty in National Academy of Inventors

Story by Barb Abney


The University of Central Florida inducted 29 researchers into its new chapter of the National Academy of Inventors on Monday night in a gala focused on innovation and invention. Nine of these inductees are faculty or maintain a joint appointment in the UCF College of Sciences.

The NAI membership has more than 200 institutional organizations that encourage and support their faculty, staff and students to create innovative and groundbreaking technologies.

“We have faculty and students who are creating technologies that change the world,” said Elizabeth Klonoff, vice president for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies. “Our past success, in combination with our ever-expanding potential to impact areas as diverse as engineering, education and health, is growing our reputation as a change agent. This NAI chapter will play an important role in growing that reputation and spurring on more innovation, which will benefit our community here and beyond.”

Issa Batarseh, professor of electrical engineering, and Tom O’Neal, associate vice president for commercialization and innovation, will lead UCF’s chapter.

“Innovation is on the rise at UCF and this strong inaugural class of inventors makes it clear that we are making an impact,” O’Neal said.

UCF has routinely ranked among the top universities in the country for the strength of its patents. Together, the inaugural class holds 541 of the 925 patents the university has claimed since 1989.

Several new chapter members – who are already NAI Fellows – were recognized at the gala.

UCF’s newest national fellow, Guifang Li, professor of optics and photonics, physics and engineering, was recognized by the NAI in 2015 for his optical-fiber communications technologies. He is the lead inventor on 24 U.S. issued patents and his work has been influential in building faster and more efficient network-communication systems.

Some of the inaugural members are James J. Hickman, professor of chemistry, biomolecular science and electrical engineering, who is building human-on-a-chip systems to test toxicity of pharmaceuticals and ultimately eliminate the need for human and animal drug trials. Hickman has received 10 U.S. patents while at UCF.

Also, Richard Blair, adjunct professor of physics, has developed a proprietary method to give industry-affordable access to graphene – one of the world’s strongest materials. He has licensed the technology to UCF startup company Garmor Inc. and is the lead inventor on eight U.S. issued patents.

Founded in 2010, the NAI is a non-profit organization with more than 3,000 members. The NAI seeks to recognize and encourage inventors with U.S. patents, enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate its members’ inventions to benefit society.

College of Sciences affiliated faculty inducted into NAI:

John Ballantyne, Ph.D., National Center for Forensic Science and Department of Chemistry, 8 patents

Richard Blair, Ph.D., Department of Physics, 8 patents

Lee Chow, Ph.D., Department of Physics, 12 patents

Qun Huo, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry and NanoScience Technology Center, 9 patents

James Hickman, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry and NanoScience Technology Center, 10 patents

Alexander Katsevich, Ph.D., Department of Mathematics, 20 patents

Martin Richardson, Ph.D., Department of Physics and The College of Optics & Photonics, 23 patents

M. J. Soileau, Ph.D., Department of Physics and The College of Optics & Photonics, 2 patents

Swadeshmukul Santra, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry, Nanoscience Technology Center, and Biomolecular Science Center, 15 patents

The full list of UCF fellows is at

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