Educator, researcher and inventor

    Engineering professor and Canada Excellence Research Chair Thomas Thundat named fellow of U.S. National Academy of Inventors.

    By Nicole Basaraba on February 11, 2015

    (Edmonton) In addition to being a teacher and researcher, one of the University of Alberta’s leading engineering professors is also one of its most inventive.

    Holder of 40 U.S. patents, Thomas Thundat, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Oil Sands Molecular Engineering and professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, has been named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors based in Tampa, Fla.

    “It’s an honour to be elected to NAI, and I plan to nominate my colleagues in the future,” Thundat said.

    The recognition is the latest in a long list of U.S. honours for Thundat, who is also a fellow of the American Physical Society, the Electrochemical Society, the American Association for Advancement of Science and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

    “There aren’t as many resources in Edmonton to patent inventions as there are in the U.S.,” Thundat explained. “We need to increase the spirit. It’s so important to encourage inventors to apply for patents. We have good people here with great ideas.”

    “It’s so important to encourage inventors to apply for patents. We have good people here with great ideas.” —Thomas Thundat

    Thundat’s patents mostly relate to his work developing mechanical sensors engineered at the molecular or atomic level to detect physical, chemical and biological substances. His expertise lies in the areas of interfaces, biophysics, scanning probes, nano-scale phenomena and quantum confined atoms.

    “Edmonton is promoting entrepreneurship, and for my part at the U of A, I also want to encourage people to become inventors,” Thundat said. “I hope to see more inventions patented in Edmonton. Positivity can lead to change.”

    Election to the National Academy of Inventors is a high professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a 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.

    Fellows of the U.S. academy are nominated by their peers for their outstanding contributions to innovation in areas such as patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, significant impact on society, and support and enhancement of innovation.

    The deputy commissioner for patent operations from the United States Patent and Trademark Office will induct the NAI fellows during the academy’s fourth annual conference March 20.