Kenneth G. Furton named National Academy of Inventors Fellow

The 2016 National Academy of Inventors Fellows Selection Committee has named Provost and Executive Vice President Kenneth G. Furton an NAI Fellow.

furton-final300x444Selection as an NAI Fellow 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.

“Provost Furton’s selection as an NAI Fellow is a testament to his significant accomplishments and his standing as a leading academic inventor and innovator,” said NAI President Paul R. Sanberg. “As one of the university’s first faculty members to create a startup company to advance the chemical detection technology that emerged from his research, Provost Furton has gone on to nurture the inventive culture at FIU and serve as a strong advocate for the inventor community across our nation’s universities.”

Furton joins three current NAI Fellows at FIU: Iyengar Sitharama, Ryder Professor and director of the School of Computing and Information Sciences; Shekhar Bhansali, Alcatel-Lucent Professor and chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department; and Sakrat Khizroev, a professor who has dual appointments in the College of Engineering and Computing and the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine.

Since becoming provost in 2014, Furton has led the charge in providing a fertile environment for FIU’s inventors to thrive and prosper. Six months into his tenure, Furton reorganized FIU’s Division of Research into the Office of Research and Economic Development, creating a unit focused solely on innovation and economic development. Shortly thereafter the university launched its ambitious strategic plan, FIUBeyondPossible2020, which prominently features goals for increasing the number of patents and commercial ventures. During his tenure, issued patents have increased from two in 2013 to 16 to date in 2016; invention disclosures have also risen by over 100 percent in the last three fiscal years. At this pace, FIU is on track to make the list of top 100 universities in the world for granted U.S. utility patents in the next few years.

“Provost Furton is an accomplished scientist and is leading our growing innovation enterprise at FIU. We are very proud of his success. His selection as an NAI Fellow is well deserved,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg.

Most recently, Furton’s efforts catalyzed the creation of StartUP FIU, a collaborative initiative for FIU students, faculty and early-stage startup entrepreneurs in South Florida to help create and grow traditional companies, high-tech ventures and social enterprises. FIU launched StartUP FIU to serve the entrepreneurial community at FIU and in South Florida. Furton is a professor of chemistry in the College of Arts, Sciences & Education and founder of the FIU International Forensic Research Institute.

The 2016 Fellows will be inducted April 6, 2017, as part of the Sixth Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston.

The 2016 NAI Fellows were evaluated by a 19-member selection committee that included NAI Fellows, recipients of U.S. National Medals, National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees, and members of the National Academies. The committee also included senior officials from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Association of American Universities, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Association of University Technology Managers and other prominent organizations.