National Academy of Inventors Selects Two LSU Innovators

December 13, 2023

BATON ROUGE – LSU Professor Emeritus Robin McCarley and former LSU Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Kevin Kelly have been elected as fellows to the National Academy of Inventors, or NAI. They are among 162 newly elected fellows.

Kevin Kelly

former LSU Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Kevin Kelly

“Our researchers are engaged in the creation of new scientific knowledge, and LSU is a testbed for the applications of this new scientific knowledge. By providing this support, we get to witness cutting-edge discoveries that have the power to transform our lives or even save them,” said Andrew Maas, associate vice president for research, Office of Innovation & Ecosystem Development. “It’s an honor to work with these innovators and pioneers.”

McCarley’s scientific achievements began while he was still an undergraduate student at Lake Forest College, when he helped Abbot Laboratories develop the first immunoassay for HIV. He has led pioneering research on materials science, controlled drug-release mechanisms, diagnostic devices to detect cancer and treatment-resistant bacterial infections, and modifying polymers for use in lab-on-a-chip technologies. He holds seven U.S. patents and five foreign patents. His technologies have been licensed by LaRoche Pharmaceuticals and Biofluidica, a medical diagnostics company.

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LSU Professor Emeritus Robin McCarley

"I was blown away when I received news of being inducted into the National Academy of Inventors for my research group’s efforts with surface chemistry approaches that enable point-of-use biomedical diagnostic devices, as well as my contributions to infectious disease immunodiagnostics and drug delivery. It is an incredible honor to receive recognition for how our work is impacting lives," said McCarley. "I am extremely grateful to those with whom I worked over the years, including Steven Soper, Dimitris Nikitopoulos, Mike Murphy, and Bikas Vaidya.  This would not have been possible without my nomination being so well supported by Andy Maas and LSU President William Tate IV."

Kelly, founder and president of International Mezzo Technologies Inc. before its sale in the summer of 2022, began his groundbreaking work at LSU’s Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices. He holds six patents involving the LIGA (Lithographie, Galvanoformung and Abformung) microfabrication process – using high-energy X-ray lithography followed by electroplating – for the highly precise manufacture of high-aspect-ratio microstructures and microtube heat exchangers. In 2000, he founded Mezzo to commercialize those discoveries, which were licensed by LSU. While those patents did not lead directly to Mezzo’s subsequent success, they did form the basis on which Mezzo got started. Since 2008 Mezzo (with its team of mostly LSU engineers) has focused on designing and manufacturing microtube heat exchanger products that are currently used by the automotive racing, military, aerospace and energy industries.

“I’ve enjoyed the somewhat circuitous ride from academia to start-up company to a more mature company that now provides some high-performance products to a wide variety of customers,” Kelly said. “Frankly, I’m not sure I’m that inventive, but I sure have surrounded myself with some inventive people along the way. So, this award represents the contributions of the students/employees with whom I got the opportunity to work.”

LSU’s Office of Innovation & Technology Commercialization (ITC), part of the Office of Innovation & Ecosystem Development, works with faculty and students to protect and commercialize their intellectual property. ITC’s efforts include helping LSU innovators patent their inventions, a complicated process that can take years to complete.

“It is exciting to see such a robust innovation ecosystem growing around LSU and to provide the extra support our researchers need to be successful,” ITC Director Spencer Rogers said.

Election as an NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors. To date, fellows hold more than 63,000 issued U.S. patents, which have generated over 13,000 licensed technologies and companies, and created 1 million jobs. In addition, over $3 trillion in revenue has been generated based on NAI Fellow discoveries.

This year’s NAI Fellows will be inducted at the 2023 Fellows Induction Ceremony at the 13th annual Meeting of the National Academy of Inventors on June 18, 2024, at Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, N.C.

McCarley and Kelly join 11 LSU faculty who have been elected NAI fellows. They include Tammy Dugas (2022) and Michael Khonsari (2022), Madan Bhasin (2021), Konstantin Kousoulas (2021) and Ralph Portier (2021), Robert Hammer (2019), Roger Laine (2018), Mandi Lopez (2016), Isiah Warner (2016), Kalliat T. Valsaraj (2015) and Wen Jin Meng (2014).

Four LSU faculty members hold the rank of NAI senior members. They are Mark Batzer (2020), Shafiqui Chowdhury (2018), Dandina Rao (2018), and George Voyiadjis(2021).

About LSU’s Office of Innovation & Ecosystem Development

LSU Innovation unites the university’s innovation and commercialization resources under one office, maximizing LSU's impact on the intellectual, economic, and social development of Louisiana and beyond. LSU Innovation is focused on establishing, developing, and growing technology-based startup companies. LSU Innovation oversees LSU Innovation Park, a 200-acre business incubator that fosters early-stage tech companies, and the Office of Innovation & Technology Commercialization, which streamlines the process of evaluating, protecting, and licensing intellectual property created by LSU researchers. LSU Innovation serves as the host organization for the Louisiana Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network which oversees all SBDC services across the state as well as the LSU SBDC, which provides free consulting services to small businesses across the state. LSU Innovation helps Louisiana technology companies apply for seed funding through the federal Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grant programs. LSU Innovation educates faculty, students, and the community on entrepreneurial principles through the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program which trains innovators to consider the market opportunities for pressing scientific questions, leading to increased funding state and federal grant programs as well as potential industry partners and licensees.

About LSU’s Office of Innovation & Technology Commercialization

LSU’s Office of Innovation & Technology Commercialization (ITC) protects and commercializes LSU’s intellectual property. The office focuses on transferring early-stage inventions and works into the marketplace for the greater benefit of society. ITC also handles federal invention reporting, which allows LSU to receive hundreds of millions of dollars each year in federally funded research, and processes confidentiality agreements, material transfer agreements, and other agreements related to intellectual property.