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Two University of Houston Professors Named Fellows in National Academy of Inventors

Professors Vince Donnelly, Christine Ehlig-Economides Receive Highest Award to Academic Inventors

By Laurie Fickman 713-743-8454

Two powerhouse engineers and inventors from the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering have secured coveted positions as Fellows in the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

Professors into the NAI
Christine Ehlig-Economides, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair of Petroleum Engineering and Vincent Donnelly, Moores Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

The election as academy Fellows of Vincent Donnelly, Moores Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Christine Ehlig-Economides, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair of Petroleum Engineering, is the highest professional distinction awarded to academic inventors. The addition of the pair brings to 39 the number of professors from the University of Houston who are either Fellows or Senior Members of the NAI.    

Vincent Donnelly  

Considered one of the top researchers in the world in experimental plasma diagnostics and plasma-surface interactions, Donnelly was elevated to Fellow for his research which has contributed tremendously to understanding complex plasma systems used in the making of microchips.  

He is considered a pioneer in plasma science with applications to microelectronics and nanotechnology and is continually expanding the frontiers of plasma science and engineering.  

Donnelly has developed several new experimental techniques that are now considered the “standard” in both research labs and microchip fabrication lines. 

Christine Ehlig-Economides 

A legend in her field, Ehlig-Economides was the first woman in the United States to earn a doctorate degree in petroleum engineering.  

She was elevated to NAI fellow for her creative research leading to innovative solutions in the energy and industrial fields. She leverages her years of managing research in production and reservoir engineering in conventional and shale reservoirs for the energy transition.  

Among her patents are innovative well testing methodologies designed to enable quantification of reservoir parameters layer-by-layer and well pattern design for enhancing hydrocarbon recovery that could enable doubling or tripling the very low recovery factor that currently occurs from wells in tight oil formations. 

The prestige 

“The remarkable contributions of the two new NAI Fellows from the University of Houston have left a lasting imprint, earning them high esteem in their respective fields,” said Ramanan Krishnamoorti, vice president for research and technology at UH. “Their work stands as a testament to the extraordinary impact inventors can have, reflecting a standard of excellence that truly sets them apart.”  

The 2023 class of Fellows is comprised of 162 distinguished academic inventors representing 35 U.S. states and 10 countries. The class includes two Nobel Laureates, three National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees, 22 members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and individuals holding other honors and distinctions as well as senior leadership from universities and research institutions. Their work spans across disciplines and exemplifies their dedication and inspiration to translating research into commercial technologies that benefit society.  

“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 Dr. Paul R. Sanberg, president of the NAI. “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.” 

The 2023 class of Fellows will be honored and presented their medals by a senior official of the United States Patent and Trademark Office at the NAI 13th Annual Meeting on June 18th, 2024 in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

The full list of 2023 Fellows can be found here. 

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