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NM scientists named ‘distinguished innovators’

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two New Mexico researchers are garnering international recognition for their work in analytical chemistry and chemical and biological engineering.

The National Academy of Inventors has named University of New Mexico vice president for research Gabriel Lopez and New Mexico State University chemistry professor Gary Eiceman to its 2016 list of distinguished innovators from across the globe. The annual listing is compiled from nearly 230 universities and government and nonprofit research institutes worldwide by the Academy, which will induct all awardees as fellows at a ceremony in Boston next April.

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New Mexico State University chemistry professor Gary Eiceman. Courtesy NMSU

To date, the Academy has recognized 757 researchers, including 29 Nobel Laureates, for demonstrating a “prolific spirit of innovation” through inventions that impact quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society. This year’s list includes 175 researchers.

“I’m ecstatic,” said William Quintana, head of NMSU’s Chemistry and Biochemistry Department in the College of Arts and Sciences. “It brings a spotlight to our department, the college and the university by telling the world that NMSU is doing great things right here in southern New Mexico.”

Eiceman is already recognized as one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of ion mobility spectrometry, which is used to detect molecules in extremely small quantities in the environment.

“He developed that technique, which is now used in homeland security to seek explosives,” Quintana said. “He also works with NASA on experiments at the International Space Station.”

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University of New Mexico Vice President of Research Gabriel Lopez. (Courtesy of UNM)

Lopez, the founding director of UNM’s Center for Biomedical Engineering, has developed new materials for medical and other applications. He’s contributed to new technologies now being commercialized by private investors, including methods to speed cellular research with cytometers, separate particles for drug discovery, detect rare cells and improve environmental sensing, said Lisa Kuuttila, president and CEO of the Science and Technology Corp., UNM’s tech-transfer office.

“His recognition by the Academy reflects the quality of research being done at UNM and its commercial potential,” Kuuttila said.

Two other UNM professors, Steven Brueck and Jeffrey Brinker, were named as Academy fellows in 2015.

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