Two UNCW Professors Earn Prestigious Honor for Academic Inventors

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

UNCW faculty members Dr. Karl Ricanek Jr. and Dr. Yishi Wang were named to the new class of some of the world's best emerging academic inventors. The National Academy of Inventors announced 95 faculty, scientists and administrators (the largest to date) to the 2023 class of Senior Members today. Considered rising stars, the honorees foster innovation within their communities and institutions while educating and mentoring the next generation of inventors. 

Dr. Ricanek first joined UNCW in 1999 as a part-time lecturer, becoming a professor in the Department of Computer Science in 2003. He previously worked for the Department of Defense and Corning Optical Fiber. He specializes in advanced research for the intelligence community in the areas of computer vision, artificial intelligence, machine intelligence and biometrics.  
He has worked with hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students in AI-affiliated research at UNCW and across the world, publishing in more than 85 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. He holds multiple patents, has licensed technology and products around the globe and has developed three companies affiliated with AI, including the viral web app Face My Age. He is a member of multiple international scientific working groups and standards groups in AI, face recognition and biometrics and has shared insights with governments and industries around the world.  

UNCW Professor of Statistics Dr. Wang joined UNCW in 2008 after teaching at Western Carolina University. A native of China, his areas of expertise include statistical machine learning and data mining, semi-parametric models, survival analysis and their applications. 

He is the coordinator of the Actuarial Certificate Program at UNCW, director of Interdisciplinary Data Enrichment and Analytic Lab and an active member of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies in Identity Sciences and the inventor of two patents. 

“The NAI Senior Member is a national recognition of the important and impactful innovation work of Dr. Ricanek and Dr. Wang,” said Dr. Stuart Borrett, UNCW associate provost for research and innovation and professor in the Department of Biology and Marine Biology. “This is a significant honor for these two outstanding faculty. As with the recent APLU designation as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University, this recognition helps raise the national profile of the innovation success at UNCW.” 

The 2023 senior members will be celebrated at NAI’s annual meeting June 25-27. 

-- Caroline Cropp

Dr. Karl Ricanek Jr.
Dr. Yishi Wang