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NAI Fellows

The NAI Fellows Program was established to highlight 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. Election to NAI Fellow status is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.

About NAI Fellows

The program has 1,060 Fellows worldwide representing more than 250 prestigious universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes. Collectively, the Fellows hold more than 38,000 issued U.S. patents, which have generated over 11,000 licensed technologies and companies, and created more than 36 million jobs. In addition, over $1.6 trillion in revenue has been generated based on NAI Fellow discoveries.

With the induction of the 2018 class, there are now more than 125 presidents and senior leaders of research universities and non-profit research institutes, 502 members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; 40 inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, 57 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation and U.S. National Medal of Science, 34 Nobel Laureates, 3 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering recipients, 304 AAAS Fellows, 200 IEEE Fellows, and 164 Fellows of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, among other awards and distinctions.

Call for Nominations

Nomination Requirements:

  • A letter of impact from the Nominator containing: evidence of the nominee’s outstanding contributions/achievements in innovation; describing the nominee’s work and the impact that their work, inventions, companies and/or products have had on society; and how the nominee has supported and enhanced an environment of innovation in Universities or the nonprofit sector.

    Please note that only nominations with strong and documentable evidence with regard to this key NAI Fellow selection criterion will be considered for nomination by the Chancellor. 

    This letter should utilize the NAI Fellow Nomination Template and be no more than one (1) page.
  • Nominee’s CV to include a Full List of U.S. patents.
  • Full List of any Startup companies or other companies that the nominee has worked with.
  • Full List of any products that have resulted from the nominee’s work.
  • List of service activities related to intellectual property and entrepreneurship (ie. involvement with NAI activities and publications, IP organizations such as GAIN, NSF iCorp, etc.).

Submit nominations (in full) to the Office of Research Commercialization at by June 3rd, 2024 at 11:59 PM.

NC State NAI Fellows

Kenneth Adler

2023 Inductee & Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor

Craig Yencho

2023 Inductee & William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor

Yuntian Zhu

2022 Inductee & Distinguished Emeritus Professor

Fred Kish

2021 Inductee & M.C. Dean Distinguished Professor

Behnam Pourdeyhimi

2020 Inductee & Associate Dean for Industry Research and Extension, William A. Klopman Distinguished Professor and Executive Director, NWI

Tom Ranney

2020 Inductee & J.C. Raulston Distinguished Professor

Rodolphe Barrangou

2019 Inductee & Professor of Food Science, Todd R. Klaenhammer Distinguished Scholar in Probiotics Research

Carlos Pignataro

2019 Inductee & CTO at Cisco Systems, Adjunct Lecturer for Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Kenneth Swartzel

2019 Inductee & William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor, Emeritus

Sylvia Blankenship

2018 Inductee & Emerita Professor and Senior Associate Dean

Koji Sode

2018 Inductee & Professor of Biomedical Engineering, William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina

Donald Bitzer

2017 Inductee & Distinguished University Research Professor

William Ditto

2017 Inductee & Professor

Robert Heath Jr.

2017 Inductee & Lampe Distinguished Professor

Alexander Kabanov

2017 Inductee & Director, Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery, Mescal S. Ferguson Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina

Jayant Baliga

2016 Inductee & Distinguished University Professor

Ruben Carbonell

2016 Inductee & Frank Hawkins Kenan Distinguished Professor

Harold Kohn

2016 Inductee & Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina

Frances Ligler

2016 Inductee & Lampe Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering, University of North Carolina

Nancy Allbritton

2014 Inductee & Kenan Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Chemistry, Chair, Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of North Carolina

Jay Narayan

2014 Inductee & John C. Fan Distinguished Chair Professor

Jerry Cuomo

2013 Inductee & Distinguished Research Professor

Joseph DeSimone

2013 Inductee & Chancellor's Eminent Professor of Chemistry, University of North Carolina

David Aspnes

2013 Inductee & Distinguished University Professor and Director of Graduate Programs

Oliver Smithies

2012 Inductee & Nobel Laureate, Weatherspoon Eminent Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina

Franky So

2012 Inductee & Walter and Ida Freeman Distinguished Professor