Published: Feb. 14, 2023

National Academy of Inventors honors CU Boulder’s Corrella Detweiler and Wei Zhang as senior members

Two professors at the University of Colorado Boulder are being recognized for inventions that could have “real impact on the welfare of society.”

Corrella Detweiler, professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology, and Wei Zhang, professor of chemistry and chair of the Chemistry Department, have been named senior members of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), the academy announced today.

Corrella Detweiler, professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology

Corrella Detweiler's research focuses on the discovery of chemicals that interfere with bacterial infection.

Senior members of the NAI are active faculty, scientists and administrators who have been successful in patents, licensing and commercialization and have produced technologies that have been or aspire to be transformational, the academy states, adding:

“They are rising stars who foster a spirit of innovation within their communities and institutions while educating and mentoring the next generation of inventors.”

Detweiler and Zhang will be inducted at the academy’s annual meeting in June in Washington, D.C.

Detweiler, whose research focuses on how to disrupt bacterial infections, said is it an honor to be recognized “for the hard work of my laboratory members. Our goal is to discover new approaches to treating multi-drug resistant bacteria, which are increasingly taking lives” She added, “The excitement of discovering something new that could become useful to others is unbeatable.”

Zhang, who studies dynamic covalent chemistry, called the news a “great honor.”

Wei Zhang, professor of chemistry and chair of the Chemistry Department

Wei Zhang specializes in dynamic covalent chemistry, energy storage, nanotechnology/materials, self-assembly, self-healing, and synthesis.

“This is a recognition that not only represents myself, but also the creativity, hard work and all the accomplishments by the Zhang group and our collaborators within the past 14 years or so,” he said. “This award has helped us further believe in the great potential of dynamic covalent chemistry, a rapidly developing field in which we have made significant contributions to, in the development of novel functional materials tackling challenges in our environment, energy and sustainable growth.”

He said it is rewarding to “see your discoveries turn people’s heads and realize that it could change someone’s life. It is not something that only stays in the lab or in the paper but is something that could also transform into real products that people can use and benefit from. Those moments truly make me feel the joy of knowing that ‘Yes, we can make a difference!’”

Zhang added that he enjoys “the journey of making those discoveries, working together with my group members and our collaborators, experiencing successes and failures, sharing happiness and frustrations and eventually getting to the destination.”

Detweiler and Zhang are among 430 senior members of the National Academy of Inventors worldwide, and they share this distinction with three other CU Boulder faculty members: Mark Rentschler and Gregory Brian Rieker of mechanical engineering and Tin Tin Su of molecular, cellular and developmental biology.

The National Academy of Inventors’ mission is to recognize and encourage academic inventors with patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society.