An IU chemistry professor was elected a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors on Dec. 11 after decades of research at IU.
Gary Hieftje holds over 22 patents and spent almost 50 years researching and teaching at IU. Hieftje said he believes there was no single invention he would credit with his success. Rather, it was a culmination of his life’s work that allowed him this honor.
“My greatest achievement was the production of students,” Hieftje said. “To me, that’s been my real contribution to IU.”
He said helping students who later won awards and highly esteemed positions after leaving IU is one of his greatest achievements.
He credits one of his most successful patents, the Smith-Hieftje method, as a coincidence. Hieftje said he and Stanley Smith had attended a lecture where they were both struck with the same idea.
Within a few days, they had drawings and sketches for the invention, which would help in work concerning elemental analysis, Hieftje said.
None of his research would have been even remotely possible if he didn’t have such a welcoming research infrastructure at IU, Hieftje said.
“One of our wonderful things about the university, and about the chemistry department, is our marvelous non-academic staff,” Hieftje said. “Those people, along with the students and the postdocs and other faculty members are the ones who really make a difference in IU.”