Two USC Dornsife scientists elected senior members of the National Academy of Inventors

USC Dornsife professors Peter Kuhn and Travis Williams.

Two professors at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences have been named senior members of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

Travis Williams, professor of chemistry, and Peter Kuhn, Dean’s Professor of Biological Sciences, along with 9 other USC scholars, join a global cadre of 553 NAI senior members who foster a spirit of innovation within their communities and institutions while educating and mentoring the next generation of inventors.

“These inductions to the National Academy of Inventors celebrate the highest level of academic excellence and also help to demonstrate the incredible power of university faculty to solve real-world problems,” said USC Dornsife Dean Amber D. Miller.

Sustainability solutions through chemistry

Williams who holds 10 patents and numerous awards recognizing the inventive value of his work, says being named an NAI senior member is a result of USC’s visionary support of innovators like himself.

“NAI recognition falls out of the university’s deliberate decisions to invest in patenting bizarre things from my lab, tenuring someone who quit working on what he was hired to do, and stoking innovation through the Wrigley Prize and the [National Science Foundation’s] I-corps hub,” he says. “While I’ve been an enthusiastic product of my environment, USC Dornsife and the university engineered this through a generations-old commitment to innovation and public impact.”

Williams’ research has borne considerable fruit, including Closed Composites, which aims to recycle carbon fiber materials from old aircraft parts, and Catapower Inc., converting used oil from deep fryers into biodiesel and environmentally sound antimicrobial agents. Williams has even co-developed a method to turn plastic waste from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch into compounds to make pharmaceuticals and other useful products.

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