By Lindsey Haugh
Penicillin, the wheel, contraceptives, the light bulb, and the internet.
What do these items have in common? They are among some of the most famous inventions that changed the world.
Home to a number of serial inventors with nearly 1,000 inventions under active management in wide ranging areas of science and technology, Virginia Tech is making major contributions to the innovation ecosystem. With discoveries ranging from quantum computing and vaccines to assisted devices and new varieties of wheat to feed the global population, Virginia Tech research is impacting the world.
“Every day, Virginia Tech researchers are conceptualizing and developing game-changing inventions that offer new and creative ways to address society’s most critical challenges,” said Brandy Salmon, associate vice president for Virginia Tech’s Innovation and Partnerships. “Over the last 12-month period, our researchers disclosed over 160 new inventions, which equates to about one every other day. This continual stream of new ideas perpetuates our existing portfolio of over 900 active technologies that are in various stages of maturity. Last year, this portfolio yielded over 30 licenses and gave rise to 10 new ventures.”
Currently, 62 Virginia Tech inventors hold 10 or more disclosures while 17 inventors are lead on 20 or more disclosures. The following is just a sampling of the legacy of this vast expertise.
“Measurement of Loop Gain with the Digital Modulator,” disclosed in 1984, is the title of the oldest disclosure held by Fred Lee, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering. A world-renowned power electronics expert and a National Academy of Engineering member, Lee has filed nearly 300 invention disclosures with over 100 patents awarded.
Retired Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences faculty member Carl Griffey holds over 100 disclosures. An expert small grains breeder in the Eastern United States, Griffey’s direction of one of the few highly regarded breeding programs in the nation established Virginia Tech as a powerhouse in new wheat variety development, resulting in nearly 100 barley and wheat varieties now grown in several states.
Working in his Bioelectromechanical Systems Laboratory, Virginia Tech inventor and biomedical engineer Rafael Davalos currently holds 43 patents, has launched four startup companies, and his technologies have generated upwards of $100 million in sales.
Roe-Hoan Yoon, University Distinguished Professor of Mining and Minerals Engineering, holds 33 U.S. patents. He developed and patented the microbubble flotation process, which has been marketed commercially under the name Microcel. The coal industry regards it as one of the best technologies for separating fine particles.
X.J. Meng, University Distinguished Professor of Molecular Virology, is an inventor of 20 awarded and 17 pending U.S. patents on vaccines and diagnostics of several virus diseases. His accomplishments include the discovery of new viruses and the development of licensed commercial vaccines against important animal virus diseases.
Alan Michaels, director of the Spectrum Dominance Division at the National Security Institute and professor of electrical and computer engineering, is the inventor of 44 awarded and four pending U.S. patents with approximately 80 more international issuances. In addition, his patents have been licensed to six companies and directly to the U.S. government. An expert in the area of secure communications, Michaels is best known as a software-defined radio architect. His work has helped develop novel low probability of detection communication capabilities for the U.S. military. Most recently, he began working with Ford Motor Co. to enhance security for intra-vehicle communications.