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News & Media

APLU’s Michael Tanner Named National Academy of Inventors Fellow

December 15, 2015

Washington, DC — Michael Tanner, APLU’s Chief Academic Officer and Vice President for Academic Affairs, was today named a National Academy of Inventors Fellow. Election to NAI Fellow status is a high professional distinction 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.

In the 1970s and 80s, Michael Tanner pioneered error-correcting coding system methods for digital data communication.   The 1981 patent recognizing this innovation and journal articles he wrote detailing its significance have had widespread impact on the practices in the design of error-correcting codes and decoders.  Coding systems that incorporate these innovations are now part of the communication standards for smartphones, for many types of Wi-Fi, and for satellites and deep space probes.

Tanner is also a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the California Council on Science and Technology, as well as a winner of the IEEE Information Golden Jubilee Paper Award for papers having widely recognized impact on the field. 

He joined APLU in January 2011 as Vice President for Academic Affairs. At APLU, he organizes the activities of the Council on Academic Affairs and provides guidance on issues affecting academics and policy (e.g., resource analysis and management, federal student aid, copyright and public access, amici curiae filings). He has led projects to foster development and university use of personalized learning technologies to improve student learning, including the formation of a consortium of over 20 universities with that goal. Tanner will retire at the end of 2015 but will continue to serve in an advisory role for the association, including the Personalized Learning Consortium.

The 168 named today bring the total number of NAI Fellows to 582, representing 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 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, Virginia. 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.

The academic inventors and innovators elected to the rank of NAI Fellow are named inventors on U.S. patents and were nominated by their peers for outstanding contributions to innovation in areas such as patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, significant impact on society, and support and enhancement of innovation.

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