ECE professor inducted as fellow by National Academy of Inventors
Shubhra Gangopadhyay doesn’t typically sleep much past 4 or 5 a.m. before surfacing from her dreams.
“My mind doesn’t shut off; that’s the problem,” she said. “Middle of the night, if I’m awake, working, or whatever — my mind never shuts off. Because this is what I enjoy in my life.”
That active brain has sparked the kind of research that’s led to more than a 15 patents and a multitude of papers. And her incessant drive to solve the next problem led to the kind of career that earned the C.W. LaPierre Endowed Chair Professor of electrical and computer engineering the designation of fellow from the National Academy of Inventors in April.
The NAI, founded in 2010, has elected 582 fellows, including 168 this year, chosen for demonstrating “a highly prolific 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.” It’s a selective honor, reserved for top inventors in a variety of fields. Per the NAI’s website, fellows include:
- 80 presidents/senior leaders of universities and non-profit research organizations
- 310 members of the National Academy of Sciences
- 27 National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees
- 36 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation and U.S. National Medal of Science
- 27 Nobel Laureates
In order to be selected, a nominee must be associated with an academic entity and hold one or more patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The work Gangopadhyay was selected for was her effort in making DNA analysis for medical studies increasingly flexible and more mobile through advances in the methods and processes used in the analysis.
Gangopadhyay graduated with a Ph.D. in physics from the Indian Institute of Technology before serving as a guest scientist at Universitat Kaiserslautern in Germany until 1985. She spent 18 years at Texas Tech University before joining the MU College of Engineering in 2003.
During her career, Gangopadhyay’s work has covered a wide range of projects in the fields of micro- and nanoelectronics, sensors, material science and nanotechnology. She’s developed new technological advances for IBM, Texas Instruments, Actel Corp., Techguard Security and many more, and she founded both Nems/Mems Works, LLC and Nanos Technologies, LLC. Gangopadhyay also has had her work funded on several occasions by both the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation.
“One of the things I like to do is think out of the box and bring my ideas into different fields,” Gangopadhyay said. “And I’m fearless. I don’t worry about not knowing the topics. I like to work in the areas I don’t know anything about, then find the right smart students and collaborators and create a new field, work in the new areas.
“I don’t like to keep working on the same area for many years. I get bored.”
A big reason Gangopadhyay opted to come to MU in 2003 was the relative ease with which she could work with the university to patent her work, and while publishing papers is a major focus at research institutions, she said that shouldn’t discourage anyone from attempting to patent their work whenever possible.
“My postdocs have a company, and now they’ll take technologies to the market,” she said.