SMU, UTA Profs Named National Academy of Inventors Fellows

Election as a National Academy of Inventors fellow is the highest professional honor given to academic inventors.


Two North Texas university professors have been named as fellows of the National Academy of Inventors, the highest professional honor given to academic inventors.


Bruce Gnade of Southern Methodist University. [Photo courtesy of SMU]

Bruce Gnade, executive director of the Hart Center for Engineering Leadership and clinical professor within Southern Methodist University’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering, and Dereje Agonafer, Jenkins Garrett professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington received the honors.

The professors were included in a group of 155 fellows nationwide named Tuesday by the academy. 

Election as NAI Fellow is given to academic inventors who have shown a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and welfare of society. 

NAI fellows are named as inventors on U.S. patents, and are nominated by their peers based on their contributions to innovation in areas such as patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, significant impact on society, and support and enhancement of innovation.


SMU’s Gnade holds 77 U.S. patents and 55 foreign patents, and is the author or co-author of more than 195 refereed journal articles. Currently, his research focuses on flexible electronics with applications ranging from radiation sensors to microelectronic arrays for cellular recording, according to SMU.

Prior to joining SMU, Gnade held leadership positions at Texas Instruments and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, where he served as a program manager overseeing influential technology research projects for the Department of Defense. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors of Oak Ridge Associated Universities. 

His academic career includes faculty appointments at the University of Maryland, the University of North Texas, and the University of Texas at Dallas. 

Gnade is a member of the Materials Research Society and the Society for Information Display, a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and a fellow of the American Physical Society.

Dereje Agonafer of the University of Texas at Arlington. [Photo Courtesy of UTA]

UTA’s Agonafer is Site Director of the NSF Industry–University Cooperative Research Center in Energy Efficient Systems, which was just awarded Phase II extending it to 2022 and is Director of the Electronics, MEMS and Nanoelectronics Systems Packaging Center. He has published more than 200 papers and has 15 issued patents. Since joining UTA in 1999, he has successfully advised 190 graduate students including 18 Ph.Ds.

He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advance of Science, and is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Agonafer has received numerous awards, including the 2008 Thermi Award for being a “significant contributor to the field of semiconductor thermal management,” the 2009 InterPACK Excellence Award for leadership in electronic packaging, the 2014 Therm Achievement Award, for significant contributions to thermal and thermomechanical management of electronics and the 2014 National Society for Black Engineers Golden Torch Legacy Award— the organization’s highest honor. In 1997 University of Colorado School of Engineering Distinguished Engineering Alumni Awardee (DEAA) in the category of Research and Invention. 

Agonafer has received several million dollars of grants since he joined UTA and has also received more than $2 million worth of servers from Yahoo and Cisco to build his data center lab.


NAI now has 912 fellows representing more than 250 research universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutes. UTA leads the state of Texas in the number of NAI fellows with 13.

The 2017 fellows are named as inventors on roughly 6,000 issued U.S. patents, which brings the collective number of patents held by all NAI fellows to more than 32,000.

The 2017 fellows will be inducted April 5, 2018 as part of the Seventh Annual NAI Conference of the National Academy of Inventors at the Mayflower Hotel, in Washington, D.C.

You can find a full list of NAI fellows here

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