A&M professor named 2019 National Academy of Inventors Fellow

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) today announced Karen L. Wooley, University Distinguished Professor at Texas A&M University, as a 2019 NAI Fellow. The NAI will induct Wooley with 167 other fellows in Phoenix on April 10, 2020.

The NAI Fellows Program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a 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. Election to NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.

“We applaud the NAI for recognizing Professor Wooley’s significant contributions to polymer science and to applications with commercial and societal benefit,” said Mark A. Barteau, vice president for research at Texas A&M and an NAI Fellow. “She is an outstanding scientist and researcher whose remarkable body of work heralds even greater innovations to come.”

Recent inventions from Wooley’s laboratory include a sustainable plastic that degrades in water; a wound dressing that the body absorbs; a non-toxic polymer coating that can prevent marine animals from sticking to a ship’s hull; and nanoparticles that can absorb 10 times their weight in spilled crude oil.

Wooley is the W. T. Doherty-Welch Chair in Chemistry and a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry, College of Science, with joint appointments in the Department of Chemical Engineering in the College of Engineering and the Department of Materials Science & Engineering, which is administered jointly by the colleges of science and engineering.

She also serves as director of the Laboratory for Synthetic-Biologic Interactions. Her research interests include the synthesis and characterization of degradable polymers derived from natural products, unique macromolecular architectures and complex polymer assemblies, and the design and development of well-defined nanostructured materials.

After receiving her doctorate from Cornell in 1993, Wooley joined the faculty of Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., where she became a full professor with tenure in 1999 and a James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Arts & Sciences in 2006. She relocated to Texas A&M in 2009.

She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Society of Chemistry, as well as an honorary fellow of the Chinese Chemical Society. Honors include the American Chemical Society (ACS) Award in Polymer Chemistry, the Royal Society of Chemistry Centenary Prize in 2014 and the Oesper Award from the ACS in 2015.

Upon her induction, Wooley will become the 11th current or past Texas A&M faculty member selected as an NAI Fellow since the organization named its charter fellows in 2012. To date, NAI Fellows hold more than 41,500 issued U.S. patents, which have generated more than 11,000 licensed technologies and companies, and created more than 36 million jobs. In addition, more than $1.6 trillion in revenue has been generated based on NAI Fellow discoveries.