Flynn Named a Senior Member of National Academy of Inventors

Work Involves Sensor to Detect Sulfur Dioxide in the Atmosphere, Technology Could Combat Climate Change

James Flynn, research associate professor in the Department of Earth & Atmospherics Sciences at University of Houston, has been named a Senior Member of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). He is one of six UH professors elected this cycle, the most UH faculty members to earn the honor in a single election year.

James Flynn
Flynn’s sensor overcomes several limitations of previous methods to detect sulfur dioxide.

Flynn, along with UH’s Greg Cuny, Jeff Feng, Hadi Ghasemi, Luca Pollonini and Navin Varadarajan, is among 83 academic inventors from institutions around the country chosen for their “success in patents, licensing, and commercialization” and for producing “technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society.” UH now has 30 faculty members in the National Academy of Inventors.

“These accomplished innovators are daring to dream big and think big for the betterment of society. They are terrific examples of what can be accomplished when you combine knowledge with creativity and perseverance,” said Paula Myrick Short, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at UH. “I sincerely congratulate them all for this well-deserved honor.”

Flynn has developed an inexpensive and accurate sensor for detecting sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere. It can be flown tethered to another instrument, on drones and on free release balloons. It will be used to evaluate the impact of sulfur dioxide on the stratosphere and allow for validation of models, which are being used to predict future climate change.

“Innovating technologies that solve problems and make a difference is people’s lives is at the heart of what we do,” said Amr Elnashai, UH vice president for research and technology transfer. “This recognition is a testament to the important work being done at UH and its impact in Texas, across the country and around the world.”

Following a nomination for NAI Senior Member, individuals undergo a rigorous selection process by the NAI Senior Member Advisory Committee, which is composed of elected NAI Fellows who are considered pioneers in their respective fields. The new Senior Members represent 41 research universities and are named inventors on over 1,000 patents.

“Today, these Senior Members, on their path of prolific discovery, join the NAI innovation community,” said Paul R. Sanberg FNAI, President of the NAI, “With the NAI Senior Member award distinction, we recognize and honor these innovators who are rising stars in their fields.”

The new Senior Members will be inducted at the Senior Member Ceremony at the 11th Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Inventors this upcoming June 14-15 in Phoenix, Arizona.

A full list of Senior Members is available on the NAI website.

- Bryan Luhn, University Media Relations