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A UCF professor will be joining the likes of Thomas Edison and other iconic innovators in the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame.

UCF optics professor Shin-Tson Wu — who has achieved significant advancement in liquid crystal displays, or LCD, which is seen on all products that have a screen, such as smart phones, computers and televisions — has been selected as one of the first UCF inductees into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame.

Wu is one of the most-awarded researchers at UCF and was named a charter fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2012. He continues to make a major impact on display technologies and liquid crystal research.

Wu has been awarded 80 patents in liquid crystal materials, display and photonic devices and adaptive optics. One of his most notable contributions is the the reflective liquid crystal display, which has been widely used in sunlight-readable mobile displays, projection displays, and wearable displays. He says liquid crystal technologies are ubiquitous in our daily lives: Their applications span from smartphones, tablets, car navigators, computer screens, TVs, data projectors, Google glasses and focus-tunable lenses, to name a few.

"I just enjoy what I am doing daily," Wu said. "Display is such an interdisciplinary field; it integrates materials, device physics and chemistry, color science, electronics, nanotechnology and human factors together. A small step of progress from each sub-field could accumulate into a big step in the whole industry. Every few years, we would witness some new exciting products."

Nominees must have at least one U.S. patent and also meet other criteria.

"The inductees were nominated through an open nomination process and selected by the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame Selection Committee," said Judy Lowry, the Research and Innovation marketing contact at USF. " … Nominees may be living or deceased, and this year, out of the six inductees, the committee selected four inventors to induct posthumously."

Other members of the inaugural class include Robert Cade, known for creating Gatorade; William Glenn, the inventor of NASA's high-definition camera; and Shyam Mohapatra, who created a nanoparticle kit that can detect and diagnose HIV in 20 seconds.

"Being selected as one of the first six inductees is a great honor for me and for UCF," Wu said. "In particular, it is a humbling experience for me in front of these giants."

William Nikolic, program manager for the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame, said he champions the "increasing opportunities for our state's 'best and brightest'" that are available at universities such as UCF and other top research institutes.

He said high-tech industry includes bioengineering and the life sciences, which are Florida's largest consumer market and among the nation's fastest-growing job markets.

"Several big corporations, such as Lockheed-Martin, Harries and Siemens, etc., have found [their] homes in Florida," Wu said. "However, due to their defense-related work, these corporations can only hire U.S. citizens. Some international students cannot be employed. To promote technology, Florida has established High Tech Corridor, known as I4 Corridor. The well-known Central Florida Research Park has grown in size and become nation's fifth-largest high-tech cluster. I hope the establishment of Florida Inventors Hall of Fame helps accelerate this transformation process and retain brilliant minds [in] Florida."

These opportunities are promising for UCF students and graduates in STEM fields to engage, develop and retain the growing technology scene in Central Florida. They are encouraged to bring their ideas to fruition through the Office of Research & Commercialization and to represent the state of Florida with their inventions.

The Florida Inventors Hall of Fame is the result of a statewide initiative and resolution passed by the Florida Senate to recognize and celebrate innovation and discovery. It is housed at USF in Tampa and will be revealed to the public at the Induction Ceremony & Gala on Sept. 10.

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