Two University of Michigan faculty members have been elected to the National Academy of Inventors, the highest professional distinction awarded solely to inventors.
Lynn Conway, professor emerita of electrical engineering and computer science in the College of Engineering, and Kevin Ward, executive director of the Weil Institute and professor of emergency medicine and biomedical engineering in the Medical School, were elected in December to the academy.
Conway and Ward were nominated for being innovative researchers with a long track record of translating discoveries into new products and technologies to benefit the world.
“This is the highest honor our inventors can receive, and I am incredibly pleased for Drs. Ward and Conway,” said Kelly Sexton, U-M associate vice president for research, innovation partnerships and economic impact. “Their acceptance into the 2023 class of NAI Fellows is a testament to their work, which has had an outstanding impact for the betterment of society.”
In addition to creating new innovations that have resulted in multiple Food and Drug Administration-approved products, Ward founded U-M’s Max Harry Weil Institute for Critical Care Research and Innovation. It provides inventors in the critical care space with a platform to improve and transform clinical care through innovation, integration and entrepreneurship.
Conway is a pioneer of microelectronic chip design with many high-tech companies and computing methods have foundations in her work. Additionally, she invented a powerful method for issuing multiple out-of-order instructions per machine cycle in supercomputers and solved a fundamental computer architecture problem. Conway’s work has helped shape and revolutionize the tech sector.
The NAI Fellows Program was established to celebrate academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating innovations that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.
To be inducted, a fellow must first be nominated by their peers. They must also be a named inventor on patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and affiliated with a university, nonprofit research institute or other academic entity. The nominations are reviewed by a committee, which invites the nominee to join the next NAI Fellows class.
“This year’s class of NAI Fellows showcases the caliber of researchers that are found within the innovation ecosystem. Each of these individuals are making significant contributions to both science and society through their work,” said Paul Sanberg, the academy’s president.
“This new class, in conjunction with our existing fellows, are creating innovations that are driving crucial advancements across a variety of disciplines and are stimulating the global and national economy in immeasurable ways as they move these technologies from lab to marketplace. We are honored to welcome these highly regarded innovators to the academy and look forward to formally inducting them at our 2024 Annual Conference in the Research Triangle of North Carolina.”
Since 2013, 13 U-M faculty members have been named NAI Fellows. President Santa J. Ono also received the honor through the University of British Columbia in 2013.