MSU emeritus professor named National Academy of Inventors Fellow

Published February 20, 2017

James Dye is best known for his work with alkalai metals, earning him the recognition as the discoverer of alkalides and electrides.

A Michigan State University College of Natural Science emeritus professor has been named a National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellow.

James Dye, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of chemistry, was recognized for demonstrating “a highly 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.” Dye is best known for his work with alkali metals, earning him recognition as the discoverer of alkalides and electrides.

“It is gratifying to be named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors,” Dye said. “Alkali metals, such as sodium, have been a main object of my research since joining the MSU chemistry department in 1953. The driving force for this research, by me and many collaborators, was the fun of developing new materials and methods in an area of chemistry that had been classified as ‘closed’ for more than 100 years.”

In 2005 Dye, along with research collaborator Michael Lefenfeld, co-founded SiGNa Chemistry, Inc. The company transforms pure alkali metals into safe, easy-to-use materials with applications in industrial chemistry. SiGNa Chemistry received the 2008 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award.

“As an elected member of the National Academy of Science who can now add NAI Fellow to his impressive list of honors, Jim Dye epitomizes the type of faculty member who makes chemistry live up to its reputation as the ‘enabling science,’” said Rob Maleczka, chair of MSU’s Department of Chemistry in the College of Natural Science. “As many of us in the department and around MSU are following Jim’s example of doing research that is valued by academic and industrial scientists alike, I look forward to more of our colleagues joining Jim and the five previously elected MSU NAI Fellows in being recipients of this great distinction.”

The NAI was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage 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.

Dye will be formally inducted as an NAI Fellow this April at a ceremony held at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

For a complete list of NAI Fellows, visit