LAWRENCE — For the second year in a row, the University of Kansas will be represented among the newest Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).
Raghunath Chaudhari, the Deane E. Ackers Distinguished Professor of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering in the School of Engineering, has been named a Fellow of the NAI in recognition of his innovative work in catalysis, reaction engineering, multiphase reactors and kinetic modeling. His research has led to many discoveries — including a smart, energy-efficient method for turning plant sugars into the building blocks for plastics, paints, fibers and many other everyday items.
Chaudhari becomes the third KU professor to be named an NAI Fellow. Last year, Val Stella, a university distinguished professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and Bala Subramaniam, the Dan F. Servey Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, became KU’s first NAI Fellows.
“We are very proud that Professor Chaudhari has been named an NAI Fellow,” said Julie Nagel, associate vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship and president of KU Innovation & Collaboration. “Professor Chaudhari is a model for innovative research that advances knowledge and benefits society.”
Election to NAI Fellow status is a high professional distinction accorded to “academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society,” as described by the NAI.
Chaudhari joined KU in 2007 and has since helped bring in nearly $14 million in external research funding. He currently serves as the deputy director for KU’s Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis, where he leads several projects aimed at inventing cleaner, safer, economically viable technologies for fuels and chemicals. He has partnered with academic researchers from around the world and collaborated with dozens of companies, including ADM, DuPont, GE and INVISTA. His prolific research has generated 282 publications, three books and 71 patents. (Read his full biography here.)
With the election of the 2016 class, Chaudhari is one of 757 NAI Fellows, representing 229 research universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutes. The 2016 Fellows are named inventors on 5,437 issued U.S. patents, bringing the collective patents held by all NAI Fellows to more than 26,000.
Chaudhari and his cohort of 2016 Fellows will be inducted April 6, 2017, as part of the Sixth Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston.
The 2016 NAI Fellows will be recognized with a full-page announcement in The Chronicle of Higher Education's Jan. 20, 2017, issue, and in upcoming issues of Inventors Digest and Technology and Innovation.
Story by Joe Monaco, KU Office of Public Affairs