University of Utah materials science and engineering Distinguished Professor Anil Virkar, who has been with the U for more than 43 years, can add yet another honor to his list — he has been named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).
“I’m extremely honored to be named to NAI. Having worked at Utah for 43 years with people like Prof. Ron Gordon and Prof. Ivan Cutler helped me get off the ground,” he said. “I’m also proud of the opportunities I have had here in Utah and the innovative research that is done here. Utah has been ahead of other states in the commercialization of research, which has helped me a lot as well.”
Virkar is one of 175 Fellows named to the academy from more than 135 institutions, according to an NAI announcement Tuesday, Dec. 13. He is the only one from the University of Utah to be named in this year’s group.
Selection to the academy is 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,” according to NAI. The 2016 Fellows will be inducted April 6 as part of the Sixth Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston.
Virkar received his undergraduate degree at the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai and his Ph.D. at Northwestern University in 1973. Shortly after, he arrived at the University of Utah first as a post-doctoral fellow and then became professor where he has remained his entire career.
During his time here, Virkar has co-founded several companies, including Colorado-based Versa Power Systems and Materials and Systems Research, Inc., in Salt Lake City. Most recently, he co-founded Nano-Oxides, Inc., for the synthesis of nanosize oxide powders. His main research is focused on fuel cells, batteries, multi-species transport and the fabrication of ceramics.
Virkar also was elected to be Fellow of ASM International, the world’s largest association of materials-centric engineers and scientists, and he was recently named for the H. Kent Bowen Endowed Professorship in Materials Science and Engineering.
He joins University of Utah College of Engineering Dean Richard B. Brown and electrical and computer engineering professor Cynthia Furse, who also is the U’s associate vice president for research, as faculty from the College who have been named NAI Fellows.
With the election of the 2016 class there are now 757 NAI Fellows, representing 229 research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes.