Texas Tech University

Herrera-Estrella, Lin Named 2019 National Academy of Inventors Fellows

George Watson

December 12, 2019

Texas Tech now boasts six NAI fellows with at least one each year since 2016.

Luis Rafael Herrera-Estrella, the President's Distinguished Professor of Plant Genomics in the Department of Plant and Soil Science in the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, and Jingyu Lin, a Horn Professor and the Linda F. Whitacre Chair in Electrical & Computer Engineering in the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering, have been named to the 2019 class of Fellows for the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), the organization announced on Dec. 3.

Luis Rafael Herrera-Estrella

"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 and Lin become the fifth and sixth Texas Tech University faculty members, respectively, to be named NAI Fellows, joining Robert V. Duncan in the Department of Physics & Astronomy (2014), Mindy Brashears in the Department of Animal & Food Sciences (2016), Kishor Mehta in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering (2017) and Hongxing Jiang in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (2018),.

"I am so incredibly honored and humbled to have been elected to the fellowship of NAI alongside so many other incredibly creative innovators," Lin said.

Herrera-Estrella came to Texas Tech in 2018 thanks to a $5 million grant from the Governor's University Research Initiative (GURI). 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 the 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.

Lin has been at Texas Tech since 2008 when she and Jiang moved their research into micro-sized LEDs from Kansas State University thanks to the Emerging Technology Fund. Today, micro-LED continues to be one of the fastest-growing technologies in the world as companies utilize it on everything from large-screen televisions to heads-up displays. She is co-director of the Texas Tech Nanophotonics Center and is considered one of the researchers responsible for the genesis of micro-LED advances.

Jingyu Lin

Herrera-Estrella and Lin will be inducted during the NAI Fellows induction ceremony April 10 in Phoenix during the Ninth Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Inventors.

"Texas Tech University is extremely proud to be the home institution of two newly inducted Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors," said Joseph Heppert, vice president for research and innovation in the Office of Research & Innovation. "Innovation is one of the key outcomes of scientific discovery, and the two individuals cited by NAI provide evidence that top public research universities like Tech are contributing to innovation on a global scale. 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. Dr. Lin's work in high bandgap semiconductor devices is contributing to the development of high-power electronics and energy-conversion devices. Texas Tech is very proud of the accomplishments of these two distinguished innovators."

Earlier this year, Zhaoyang Fan, a professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, and Samuel Prien, a professor in the Department of Animal & Food Sciences, were two of 66 academic inventors elected to the inaugural class of NAI Senior Members.

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.

Those elected as fellows by the NAI 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, having a significant impact on society and the support and enhancement of innovation.

The 2019 Fellow class represents 136 research universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutes worldwide and collectively holds more than 3,500 issued U.S. patents. Among the 2019 Fellows are six recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology & Innovation or U.S. National Medal of Science and four Nobel Laureates as well as other honors and distinctions. Their collective body of research covers a range of scientific disciplines including neurobehavioral sciences, horticulture, photonics and nanomedicine.

About the NAI

The National Academy of Inventors is a member organization comprising U.S. and international universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutes with more than 4,000 individual inventor members and Fellows spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide. It was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), 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 has a close collaborative relationship with the USPTO and is one of three honorific organizations, along with the National Medals and National Inventors Hall of Fame, working closely with the USPTO on many discovery and innovation-support initiatives. The NAI publishes the multidisciplinary journal, Technology and Innovation.