USF leads the nation with six professors elected senior members of the National Academy of Inventors | USFRI News | Research & Innovation

Professors from the College of Engineering, Morsani College of Medicine and College of The Arts are USF’s newest honorees.

TAMPA– 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.

Newly elected faculty members have dedicated their careers to inventing high-tech tools for a myriad of applications and paving the way 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 most of any institution in the United States Three faculty members from the College of Engineering, two from Morsani College of Medicine and a member of the College of The Arts are included in this new class of senior members.

“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,” said USF President Rhea Law. . “This diverse and distinguished group of faculty appointed as Senior Members of the National Academy of Inventors has earned this recognition for dedicating their careers to the betterment of our society.”

NAI Senior Fellows are active faculty, scientists, and administrators at NAI member institutions who have demonstrated remarkable innovation in producing technologies that have had, or aspire to have, a real impact on the well-being of the society. They also have a proven track record in patents, licensing and commercialization.

“Truly gifted innovators and inventors see their creations not just as something they’ve done, but also as a vision for moving forward,” said Sylvia Thomas, acting vice president for research and development. innovation at USF. “These six exceptional USF faculty members are transforming the world, beyond its capabilities, and inspiring the next generation of students and innovators toward an even brighter future.”

The six new senior USF NAI members are listed below.

Rajiv Dubey

Rajiv Dubey, Ph.D., is a professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Center for Assistive, Rehabilitation & Robotics Technologies (CARRT) at USF. His research interests include assistive robotics, prosthetics, rehabilitation engineering, and robotics in healthcare, space, submarine, and nuclear waste management. He has published over 275 referenced articles and directed over 70 PhDs. dissertations and master’s theses. He was granted six full US patents. Dr. Dubey has received over $40 million in research funding as a Principal Investigator from various agencies including NSF, NASA, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Education and the private sector. He is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

Loree Heller

Loree C. Heller, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Medical Engineering, a joint department between Morsani College of Medicine and USF’s College of Engineering. His research has focused on molecular microbiology, the evaluation of alternatives to antibiotics, and the biological 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 skeletal pDNA is electroporated into different tumor types. His research has been funded by the NIH and other US federal agencies. She has patented research on the molecular detection of pathogens; his patents in the development of gene therapy have been licensed by two companies and include translation into clinical trials.

Merry Lynn Morris

Merry Lynn Morris, MFA, Ph.D., is the interim chair of the dance program. She holds a master’s degree in dance and choreography and a doctorate. in dance studies. His interdisciplinary work cuts across disability studies, design, architecture, engineering and health sciences. Morris’ interest in the dance and disability community coalesced in his work, leading him to reconceptualize the design of assistive technology from the perspective of dance. Dr. Morris has been featured/interviewed by MSNBC, PBS, CNN, NPR Science Fridaythe Reader’s Digestand the Inventor’s Summary. She has worked collaboratively in the fields of dance and engineering to invent new mobility devices. Publications include 5 US patents and over 45 scientific research, printed and artistic products.

Anna Piait

Anna Pyayt, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Chemical, Biological, and Materials Engineering at USF. She directs the IBIS laboratory (Innovative Biomedical Instruments and Systems). It has designed and developed many innovative systems and instruments, including the Telescopic Pixel display technology (a competitor to LCD) created in collaboration with Microsoft Research. The original publication has been translated into over 30 languages ​​worldwide. She was also the first scientist to demonstrate a new optical interconnection between a photonic waveguide and several plasmonic waveguides allowing the fabrication of new biomedical nanochips (published in Nature’s nanotechnology). Dr. Pyayt filed several patents and created Hemolix LLC.

Juan Sanchez Ramos

Juan Sanchez-Ramos, Ph.D., MD, is the Helen Ellis Endowed Professor in the Department of Neurology at USF. His research in neuroscience has included studies of drug addiction, toxicant-induced neurodegeneration, stem cell biology, and novel approaches to the delivery of gene therapy. His research team discovered the Huntington’s disease gene in 1992. He received numerous awards, including an NIH Clinical Investigator Development Award to start his research laboratory, the Helen E. Ellis Endowed Chair for Parkinson’s Disease Research, USF McNair Scholars Faculty Research Mentor Award and the University of South Florida Faculty Research Excellence Award. He has been granted 8 US patents and has over 300 publications to his credit.

Daniel Yeh

Daniel Yeh, Ph.D., PE, BCEE, LEED AP, is a professor of environmental engineering and head of the Membrane Biotechnology Laboratory at USF, which focuses on the research and development of innovative wastewater treatment technologies and resource recovery. One of his most impactful inventions is the NEWgenerator, a portable, self-contained solar toilet system that converts collected waste into renewable energy, fertilizer and clean water that can be used for crop irrigation. The NEWgenerator was selected for a Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2011, and has been deployed and commercialized in India and South Africa. In 2014, his team received the Cade Museum Prize for their invention of the NEW generator. To date, Dr. Yeh has published over 47 articles in peer-reviewed journals and has been granted seven US patents.

Senior members are elected every two years and nominations are accepted on a rolling basis. Applications are currently being accepted for the next class of senior members.

“Today, these senior members, on their prolific journey of discovery, join the NAI innovation community,” said Paul R. Sanberg FNAI, NAI President, “With the distinction of the NAI Senior Member Award, we recognize and honor these innovators who are rising stars in their fields.

A complete list of NAI senior members is available on the NAI website.

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 nation has moved up the US News and World Report national university rankings faster than USF. Serving more than 50,000 students at campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota-Manatee, USF is designated a preeminent state research university by the Florida Board of Governors, placing it in the category of most elite among the 12 public universities in the state. USF has gained wide national recognition for its success in graduating underrepresented minority and low-income students at rates equal to or better than white and higher-income students. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference. Learn more at

About the National Academy of Inventors

The National Academy of Inventors is a member organization comprising U.S. and international universities, as well as government and nonprofit research institutes, with more than 4,000 individual inventor and fellow members spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide. It was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors holding patents issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), improve 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 for the benefit of society. The NAI maintains a close partnership with the USPTO and is one of three honors organizations, along with the National Medals and the National Inventors Hall of Fame, working closely with the USPTO on many initiatives supporting discovery and to innovation. The ICN publishes the multidisciplinary journal, Technology and innovation. Learn more at

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