Two WSU researchers inducted into NAI

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) recently recognized two Washington State University researchers for their inventions with U.S. patents and visibility in academic technology and innovation.

Matthew McCluskey, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has recently been inducted into the NAI’s Class of 2022 Senior Members. NAI Senior Members are active faculty, scientists, and administrators from NAI member institutions who have created innovation-producing technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact to the welfare of society. The new class of NAI senior members hail from 41 NAI member institutions and research universities. They are named inventors on over 1,093 issued U.S. patents.

Juming Tang, Regents Professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, has been inducted in NAI’s 2021 Class of Fellows, which was announced in December 2021. The NAI Fellows Program highlights 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. The 2021 class included 164 academic innovators from 116 research universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutes worldwide. They collectively hold over 4,800 issued U.S. patents. Tang was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in early 2021. He is among 33 NAI Fellows to be elected to both NAI and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Additionally, three NAI 2021 Fellows are also Nobel Laureates.

“Congratulations to Matthew McCluskey and Juming Tang for their induction as NAI Members. Through research and discovery, their innovations provide cutting-edge solutions to challenges that will benefit society and influence science, technology, and innovation worldwide,” said Sita Pappu, assistant vice president for the Office of Commercialization.

McCluskey, an experimental physicist, developed an improved method of inspecting surfaces for miniscule defects. Called confocal optical profile microscopy (COP), his innovative approach uses a CCD array rather than the pinhole and single-element detector of standard confocal microscopes. COP captures the entire beam profile of emitted light, resulting in more accurate and complete data at a fraction of the cost. 

Refinement of the COP technique led to two patents, with McCluskey the sole inventor on both, and to the creation of Klar Scientific, a WSU spin-out company co-founded by McCluskey that has exclusive license to the intellectual property.

Tang has invented and commercialized electromagnetic spectrum wave-based food processes. Tang has focused his research on advancing thermal processing technologies and supporting knowledge for control of bacterial and viral pathogens in foods with minimum adverse effects on taste and nutrition.

Tang’s laboratory has developed two commercially viable technologies based on 915 MHz microwaves for production of high quality ready-to-eat meals with extended shelf-life in different storage conditions. The unique engineering designs allow predictable and rapid heating of pre-packaged food that eliminates food pathogens, replacing the long-time industrial method of canning foods.

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