USF Research News

National Academy of Inventors Selects Two from USF as New Fellows: President Judy Genshaft and Digital Camera Inventor Steve Sasson

December 11, 2018

Honor recognizes contributions to academic invention and global innovation.

TAMPA, Fla. – The National Academy of Inventors on Tuesday named University of South Florida System President Judy Genshaft and digital camera inventor Steve Sasson, who holds a faculty position in USF’s Institute for Advanced Discovery & Innovation, as Fellows for 2018. They were among 148 leading global innovators selected for the honor.

Election to NAI Fellow status is the highest professional accolade bestowed solely 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 welfare of society.

“These two individuals – in their own unique ways – have had a lasting and historic impact on global innovation and invention,” said NAI President Paul R. Sanberg. “President Genshaft’s championing of academic inventors around the world has helped create a movement to recognize the vital contributions of research universities to the greater good.

“Likewise, we are immensely proud to have Steve Sasson as a new NAI Fellow, having invented technology that not only revolutionized photography and communications but is part of the daily lives of much of the world’s population. He is among a legion of inventors in American history whose creativity and innovation seeded a technological revolution that shapes modern life as we know it.”

President Judy GenshaftPresident Judy Genshaft

President Genshaft was instrumental in the founding of the NAI in 2010, which grew in eight years to an international organization representing more than 250 U.S. and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutes worldwide, with more than 4,000 individual inventor members and Fellows.

With its home offices at USF, the NAI collaborates with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in promoting innovation worldwide and is considered one of USF’s most successful spinoffs.

President Genshaft also has been a national leader in American higher education in elevating and supporting the efforts of academic inventors. In 2015, President Genshaft co-chaired an Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) task force of presidents and chancellors, provosts, and senior research officers which recommended that public research universities consider faculty efforts in securing new U.S. patents and creating startup companies as part of tenure and promotion decisions, helping expand a culture of innovation at universities nationwide.

“I am deeply honored to receive this recognition,” President Genshaft said. “The University of South Florida has become an international leader in innovation by creating a culture that rewards inventive thinking. Our students and faculty are truly committed to research, discovery and creativity that solves global problems.”

Steve SassonSteve Sasson

Sasson designed and built the first digital still camera and playback system in 1975 as an electrical engineer for Eastman Kodak Company. His pioneering work in digital photography and printing systems is considered one of the great milestones of the digital age. This year, he joined USF’s Institute for Advanced Discovery & Innovation, which draws upon the talent, skills and knowledge of the nation’s leading innovators to help guide innovation education programs and projects at USF.

Sasson has received numerous recognitions for his work, including his 2011 induction to the National Inventors Hall of Fame, 2009 Economist Magazine Consumer Products Innovation Award, selection as an AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador, and the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation, which he received in 2009 from President Obama. In February, he visited USF to talk about his journey as an inventor and innovator with students.

“It is wonderful to be recognized by the National Academy of Inventors, whose work in highlighting and celebrating inventors helps create a positive and supportive environment in this era of innovation,” Sasson said. “Being a part of an organization such as NAI is wonderful because you get to interact with incredible inventors, but the highlight for me is in meeting young people and encouraging them to continue on with their new ideas.”

The formal induction ceremonies for the new NAI Fellows will be held at the 8th annual NAI Conference at the Johnson Space Center in Houston on April 11, 2019, and will receive medals from U.S. Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld.

With the election of the 2018 class there are now 1,060 NAI Fellows. The 2018 Fellows are named inventors on nearly 4,000 issued U.S. patents, bringing the collective issued U.S. patents held by all NAI Fellows to more than 35,000.

The 2018 class of NAI Fellows was evaluated by a selection committee comprised of NAI Fellows, U.S. National Medals recipients, National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees, members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and senior officials from the USPTO, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Association of American Universities, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Association of University Technology Managers, and National Inventors Hall of Fame, among other organizations.

About the University of South Florida

The University of South Florida, established in 1956 and located in Tampa, is a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success. The USF System includes three separately accredited institutions: USF, USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee. Serving more than 50,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.8 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF ranks in the top 25 nationally for research expenditures among public universities, according to the National Science Foundation. In 2018, the Florida Board of Governors designated USF as a Preeminent State Research University, placing USF in the most elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.

About the National Academy of Inventors

The National Academy of Inventors is a member organization comprising U.S. and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutes, with over 4,000 individual inventor members and Fellows spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide. It was founded in 2010 at the University of South Florida 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 publishes the multidisciplinary journal, Technology & Innovation. Visit