UC CEAS Professor Andrew J. Steckl Named an NAI Fellow

By: Ashley Duvelius
January 6, 2016

The National Academy of Inventors and the University of Cincinnati announce CEAS Professor Andrew J. Steckl as newly named NAI Fellow.

Andrew J. Steckl, PhD

Andrew J. Steckl, PhD

Andrew J. Steckl, University of Cincinnati College of Engineering and Applied Science Professor, has recently been named Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

Election to NAI Fellow status is a high professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a highly 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.

Steckl is the Carl Gieringer Professor, Ohio Eminent Scholar of Microelectronics and Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering and Applied Science. Previously he was professor and director of the Center for Integrated Electronics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Steckl received his BS in Electrical Engineering from Princeton and his MS and PhD from the University of Rochester. Steckl pioneered the development of rare-earth-based GaN inorganic light emitting diodes and DNA-based organic LEDs. Current research in his Nanoelectronics Lab is in organic electronics, multi-functional nanofibers, and microfluidics for chem/bio/medical applications.

Steckl is a Life Fellow of IEEE and a Fellow of AAAS. He was awarded the Rieveschl Award for Distinguished Research and is an Elected Scientific Member of the Bohmische Physikalische Gesselschaft. He holds 18 U.S. patents and is the founder of Extreme Photonix. Steckl has published over 425 articles and book chapters and has mentored 60 PhD students and post-doctoral fellows.

Having always been at the forefront of innovation, Steckl has been a driving force at UC, ensuring its evolution and adaptation to modern engineering. For instance, in the early 2000’s Steckl took notice of the quickly maturing field of conventional (inorganic) electronics and so he formed the college’s organic electronics laboratory. Instead of synthesizing new organic molecules (which can be very difficult and costly), he saw the potential of natural-based, non-synthetic organic materials, particularly DNA.

And so began UC’s journey into the field of natural-based organic electronics. For more than 15 years now, Steckl has been taking natural materials and biological design that nature has so graciously provided us and has been leveraging them for electronic devices.  More specifically, he employs DNA and other nucleic acids and their components to work as effective electronic semiconducting materials for low cost and biodegradable OLEDs

Eliot Gomez, PhD

Eliot Gomez, PhD

Steckl, who says “devices have always been and always will be at the heart of my universe,” has made great strides in his field, but maintains that his proudest achievements are actually the students whom he’s graduated. One such student, Eliot Gomez, worked very closely with Steckl for six years while completing his PhD and now continues his post-doc studies at Linköping University Laboratory for Organic Electronics in Sweden.

Gomez explains, “Natural electronics are not only renewable but they also have improved device performance in OLEDs.  At UC, we have shown that the nucleic acid bases can improve OLED efficiency more than 4 times compared to devices without nucleic acids.  Moreover, we have shown that the cost of OLED substrates can be significantly reduced by using natural-based cellulose.

In addition, we are beginning to see more seamless interaction between biological and electronic systems, such as wearable electronics in the medical field, and so natural-based electronics will be fundamental for learning how devices can better impact nature (medical, biology, or environment), but also how nature can aid our devices.”

Whether it’s research for UC, P&G, the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base or another cutting-edge company, Steckl strives to maintain an unsurpassed quality of excellence and relevancy with his projects. And his research is not only groundbreaking—it’s inspiring to both young and seasoned researchers alike. For example, Gomez has been collaborating with other scientists at Linköping University to develop the world's first electronic plant.

Gomez reflects, “The academic foundation of UC and my work with Dr. Steckl, really laid a great the foundation for my personal research endeavors as a ‘Natural-based Researcher’ in electrical engineering.”

Applying his organic electronics roots, Gomez describes, “Natural-based electronics will become more relevant in coming years with many exciting areas to explore beyond traditional electronic devices. For example, the agriculture industry is starving for tools to be able to control plant physiology, such as making a plant bloom, increasing its yield, or delaying production during frosty weather. Our recent efforts in Electronic Plants work to give plants a ‘central nervous system’, and create a seamless interaction between biology and organic electronics. Soon we may be able to monitor, control, or regulate plants and tap into some things that the plants are really good at, such as synthesizing molecules or harvesting energy from the sun through photosynthesis.”

And Gomez’ former advisor couldn’t be more proud. Steckl says, “UC has been good to me, very supportive, but to watch my students succeed—that is truly the most rewarding aspect of all.”

The NAI announced 168 new fellows on December 16, 2015—bringing the total to 582—with representation from more than 190 prestigious research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutions. The 2015 Fellows account for more than 5,300 issued U.S. patents, bringing the collective patents held by all NAI Fellows to more than 20,000. These academic luminaries have made a significant impact to the economy through innovative discoveries, creating startup companies, and enhancing the culture of academic invention.

The world's first Electronic Rose. Photo Courtesy of Eliot Gomez, Linköping University Laboratory for Organic Electronics.

The world's first Electronic Rose. Photo Courtesy of Eliot Gomez, Linköping University Laboratory for Organic Electronics.

Included among all NAI Fellows are more than 80 presidents and senior leaders of research universities and non-profit research institutes, 310 members of the other National Academies (NAS, NAE, NAM), 27 inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, 32 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation and U.S. National Medal of Science, 27 Nobel Laureates, 14 Lemelson-MIT prize recipients, 170 AAAS Fellows, and 98 IEEE Fellows, among other awards and distinctions.

The NAI Fellows will be inducted on April 15, 2016, as part of the Fifth Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, Va. USPTO Commissioner for Patents Andrew Hirshfeld will provide the keynote address for the induction ceremony. Fellows will be presented with a special trophy, medal, and rosette pin in honor of their outstanding accomplishments.

Additionally, the 2015 NAI Fellows will be recognized with a full page announcement in The Chronicle of Higher Education Jan. 22, 2016 issue, and in upcoming issues of Inventors Digest and Technology and Innovation.

Select for official NAI-UC Press Release Announcing NAI Fellows

Select for WVXU Article on Eliot Gomez, “Former UC Student Makes Electrifying Plants”