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4 Professors Among National Academy of Inventors’ Top Members

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From left: Jennifer Maynard, Jason McLellan, Delia Milliron and Sriram Vishwanath

AUSTIN, Texas — Four faculty members at The University of Texas at Austin have been named to the National Academy of Inventors’ 2023 class of Senior Members. The honorees include three faculty members from the Cockrell School of Engineering and one from the College of Natural Sciences.

They are Jennifer Maynard, Jason McLellan, Delia Milliron and Sriram Vishwanath.

Senior Members are active faculty members, scientists and administrators from NAI-member institutions who have demonstrated remarkable innovation producing technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society. They also have growing success in patents, licensing and commercialization, while educating and mentoring the next generation of inventors. This year’s class includes 95 emerging academic inventors as identified by NAI-member institutions. 

McLellan is the Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry and a professor in the College of Natural Sciences’ Department of Molecular Biosciences. As a pioneer in the emerging field of structure-based vaccine design, he played a key role in the development of several FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines, as well as in experimental vaccines for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) that are showing promise in late-stage clinical trials. Among McLellan’s other awards and honors are the O’Donnell Award in Medicine from the Texas Academy of Medicine, Engineering, Science and Technology in 2022, and Texas Inventor of the Year from the State Bar of Texas’ Intellectual Property Section in 2021. He also has previously received recognition from the Charles H. Hood Foundation, American Crystallographic Association, Blavatnik Family Foundation, American Association for the Advancement of Science, the International Society for Antiviral Research, the National Academy of Sciences and the Welch Foundation.

Maynard holds the Z.D. Bonner Professorship in Chemical Engineering in the Cockrell School’s McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering. Her research focuses on the development of protein therapeutics and vaccines to address unmet medical needs in infectious diseases. She has been part of teams working to treat diseases such as anthrax and whooping cough. She is one of the leaders of the new Texas Biologics Center, and she contributed to a next-generation coronavirus vaccine that can protect people from COVID-19, the common cold and viruses such as MERS and SARS, both with McLellan. Awards include election as a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers, the inaugural University of Texas “Emerging Inventor of the Year” award, and a Packard fellowship.

Milliron is the T. Brockett Hudson Professor and Department Chair in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering. Her research focuses on the synthesis and fundamental chemistry of colloidal nanocrystals, the development of methods for their integration into novel nanomaterials, and the systematic investigation of their properties and applications. Milliron has developed technologies for microelectronics and solar cells and has co-founded two startups in her career, with a common thread of nanomaterials to advance the clean energy transition: Heliotrope Technologies, to commercialize energy-efficient “smart window” coatings that allow people to control solar heat transmitted through windows while also controlling glare and lighting; and Celadyne Technologies, to advance membrane materials to make better electrolyzers for clean hydrogen production and fuel cells to efficiently use hydrogen.

Vishwanath is a professor in the Chandra Family Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His research interests include blockchain systems, AI/ML systems, information & coding theory, and probabilistic models. He received the NSF CAREER award in 2005, the IEEE Information and Communications Society joint best paper award in 2006, and the ARO Young Investigator Award in 2008. He was the 2014 UT faculty entrepreneur of the year and was honored in the Reuters list of highly cited researchers in 2014 and 2015. Vishwanath is also a Fellow of the IEEE. He is a serial entrepreneur and has founded multiple startups over the past decade. He is the president of ChainHub, an incubator focused on deep tech research and startups, particularly in the domain of blockchain systems.