USF Research News

Three USF professors elected as Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors

December 16, 2014

Prestigious NAI Fellow designation awarded for “prolific spirit of innovation”

TAMPA, Fla. – University of South Florida professors Michael W. Fountain, Robert H. Byrne, and Victor L. Poirier have been named 2014 Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors.

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.

"We are delighted to recognize the 2014 NAI Fellows and their unparalleled commitment to excellence in academic invention," said Dr. Paul R. Sanberg, USF senior vice president for research and innovation and president of the NAI. “Their many discoveries have made a truly significant impact on society and we are proud to honor them for these contributions.”

Those named today bring the total number of NAI Fellows to 414, representing more than 150 prestigious research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutions.

Included among all of the NAI Fellows are 61 presidents and senior leadership of research universities and non-profit research institutes, 208 members of the other National Academies (NAS, NAE, IOM), 21 inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, 16 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation, 10 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Science, 21 Nobel Laureates, 11 Lemelson-MIT prize recipients, 112 AAAS Fellows, and 62 IEEE Fellows, among other awards and distinctions.

Fountain, Byrne and Poirier will be inducted as NAI Fellows on Mar. 20, 2015, during the Fourth Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Fellows will be presented with a special trophy, newly designed medal, and rosette pin in honor of their outstanding accomplishments. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Deputy Commissioner for Patent Operations Andrew Faile will provide the keynote address for the induction ceremony.

The 2014 NAI Fellows will be recognized with a full page announcement in The Chronicle of Higher Education Jan. 16, 2015 issue, and in upcoming issues of Inventors Digest and Technology and Innovation.

Robert H. Byrne

Byrne is a University Distinguished Professor of Seawater Physical Chemistry in the College of Marine Science at USF. His research focuses are marine chemistry and physical chemistry of seawater, particularly in ocean acidification and development of novelin-situ instrumentation. He is the author of more than 200 publications and holds 14 U.S. patents. He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Michael W. Fountain

Fountain is the John and Beverley Grant Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship at the Muma College of Business and professor in the College of Engineering and the Morsani College of Medicine at USF. He received his Honors BS from Samford University, MS and PhD from Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, and MBA from Bristol University. He is the founding director for the USF Interdisciplinary Center for Entrepreneurship since 1992.

From 1997 until 2002 he served in various senior leadership roles, including director of the USF Research Foundation, entrepreneur-in-residence at the Kauffman Foundation, and program director for the Kauffman Fellows Program. From 1981 until 1996 he was the founder or co-founder of 11 life science, medical device and biotechnology companies. He is the inventor on more than 70 U.S. and foreign patents used in over 100 healthcare products around the world.

Victor L. Poirier

Poirier is a professor at the USF Institute for Advanced Discovery & Innovation, former CEO and president of Thermo Cardiosystems, and former chief technology advisor for Thoratec Corp. He is internationally recognized as a pioneer of artificial heart technology and invented the Heartmate Technology used to take over the pumping function of the natural heart. He is a Founding Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He holds 17 U.S. patents and has published more than 110 papers. Poirier is the recipient of the Mediterranean Institute of Cardiology Award (France), the Himet Award, and the Barney Clark Award from the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs, and was elected by his peers as the national “Engineer of the Year” (Design News, 1992), among other honors and awards. He has a BSME and MBA from Northeastern University and was an assistant professor at the Tufts School of Medicine. He has served as chairman of the board as a trustee of two hospitals. In 2013, he organized and chaired the International Gordon Research Conference on Assisted Circulation in Tuscany, Italy.

He holds 17 U.S. patents and has published more than 110 papers. Poirier is the recipient of the Mediterranean Institute of Cardiology Award (France), the Himet Award, and the Barney Clark Award from the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs, and was elected by his peers as the national “Engineer of the Year” (Design News, 1992), among other honors and awards.

The academic inventors and innovators elected to the rank of NAI Fellow are named inventors on U.S. patents and were nominated by their peers for outstanding contributions to innovation in areas such as patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, significant impact on society, and support and enhancement of innovation.

The 2014 NAI Fellows Selection Committee comprises 17 members, including NAI Fellows, recipients of U.S. National Medals, National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees, members of the National Academies and senior officials from the USPTO, Association of American Universities, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Association of University Technology Managers, and National Inventors Hall of Fame.


The University of South Florida is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF is a Top 50 research university among both public and private institutions nationwide in total research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation. Serving nearly 48,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.5 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference and a Charter Member Institution of the National Academy of Inventors. www.usf.edu

The National Academy of Inventors is a 501(c)(3) non-profit member organization comprised of U.S. and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutions, with over 3,000 individual inventor members and Fellows spanning more than 200 institutions, and growing rapidly. It was founded 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. The NAI edits the multidisciplinary journal, Technology and Innovation, published by Cognizant Communication Corporation (NY). www.academyofinventors.org

Media Contact: Judy Lowry, 813-974-3181, jhlowry@usf.edu