Herrera-Estrella named to National Academy of Inventors Fellows
By: George Watson
Luis Rafael Herrera-Estrella, the President's Distinguished Professor of Plant Genomics in Texas Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science, has been named to the 2019 class of Fellows for the National Academy of Inventors. He'll be inducted next April during the organization's ninth annual meeting in Phoenix.
"Dr. Herrera-Estrella's research in plant genomics will revolutionize our understanding of how to make agriculture more sustainable and help ensure the viability of this critical economic activity as critical resources like water for irrigation become less plentiful," said Joseph Heppert, vice president for research and innovation in the Office of Research & Innovation.
"It is an honor to be elected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors," Herrera-Estrella said. "The NAI is a group of highly innovative scientists, engineers and inventors who have translated scientific advances products and technology that benefit society at large. Being part of a distinguished group that includes several Nobel Prize laureates is a true honor."
Herrera-Estrella came to Texas Tech in 2018 thanks to a $5 million grant from the Governor's University Research Initiative. One of the top plant molecular biologists in the world and a pioneer in the development of plant genetic engineering, he serves as director of Tech's Center for Functional Genomics of Abiotic Stress, where he and other researchers are using cotton as a model to develop technologies that will help other crops thrive under extreme conditions.
The NAI Fellows Program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a 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. Election to NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.
To date, NAI Fellows hold more than 41,500 issued U.S. patents, which have generated more than 11,000 licensed technologies and companies, and created more than 36 million jobs. In addition, more than $1.6 trillion in revenue has been generated based on NAI Fellow discoveries.
William Brown, dean of Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, noted that another CASNR faculty member is a NAI Fellow. Mindy Brashears, a professor of food microbiology and food safety in Tech's Department of Animal and Food Sciences, was tapped as a NAI Fellow in 2016. Brashears currently is off campus, serving as a USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety in Washington, D.C.
Separately, Brown pointed out that Samuel Prien, a professor in the Department of Animal & Food Sciences, was one of 66 academic inventors elected earlier this year to the inaugural class of NAI Senior Members.
NAI Senior Members are active faculty, scientists and administrators from NAI member institutions with success in patents, licensing and commercialization. They have produced technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society.
Prien, who also has a joint appointment at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center's School of Medicine, currently holds four U.S. patents, 20 international patents and three copyrights, with others pending. Many of these patents have been licensed and are progressing toward commercialization.
CONTACT: William Brown, Dean, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2808 or email@example.com
1213NM19 / For the full-text version of George Watson's story in Texas Tech Today, please click here