Bill McCutchen, Ph.D.
The National Academy of Inventors has chosen Bill McCutchen as a Fellow. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo)

Bill McCutchen, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center director at Stephenville, has been made a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, NAI.

McCutchen will be honored at the NAI’s induction ceremony in June in Tampa.

“As an inventor, Dr. McCutchen has over 70 U.S. patents to his credit,” said Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D., vice chancellor of Texas A&M AgriLife, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research. “As a leader, he has been a valuable force in the university’s and agency’s efforts in identifying potential novel discoveries and protecting intellectual property.”

Striving for intellectual excellence

McCutchen said since joining AgriLife Research in 2006, his priority has been to be a leading force in intellectual property for the university system. He has provided that leadership as the AgriLife Research deputy associate director and executive associate director, a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Entomology associate professor and center director at Stephenville.

He credits this recent achievement to the Texas A&M University System for providing the opportunity to work with very talented leadership, scientists and project managers to establish and grow the Office of Corporate Relations and to enable Texas A&M AgriLife to become a leading force in intellectual property within the system. 

Marlan Scully, Ph.D., Texas A&M Burgess Distinguished Professor of Physics, Bryan-College Station, said in his nomination, “Dr. McCutchen’s patents and inventions are directed toward improving agriculture products from chemistry to biotechnology while working as a team member in industry and now academia to help feed the world.

“Specifically, Dr. McCutchen has invented methods for developing and screening for better chemical leads and biotechnological advances for insect, weed and pathogen control,” Scully said. “As a specific example, and through the use of engineered recombinant baculoviruses, he was able to optimize insect‐selective neurotoxins to locate novel targets and receptors to identify novel insecticide leads.”

He said McCutchen’s research and innovations also span various genetic transformation techniques to better improve plant yields by selecting genetic traits in crops with increased robustness to biotic and abiotic stressors.

Scully and McCutchen have worked together over the past decade on aspects of the development of photo-quantum biology on ways to detect plant and animal stress and disease using modern optics.

Scully said research like McCutchen’s is key in a world where, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 815 million people now go hungry, 11% of the world’s population. This is a 38 million increase as compared to last year.

Becoming an NAI Fellow

Each NAI Fellow nominee must undergo a rigorous vetting process once nominated. Election to NAI Fellow status is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors. According to the organization, there are only 1,228 NAI Fellows worldwide.

The NAI Fellows selection committee stated that inductees are chosen for demonstrating “a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.”

NAI Fellows represent 250 prestigious universities as well as governmental and non-profit research institutes. According to the NAI, their Fellows hold more than 38,000 U.S issued patents, which have generated over 13,000 licensed technologies, 2,300 companies and created more than 19.5 million jobs. In addition, over $2.2 trillion in revenue has been generated from the discoveries of NAI Fellows.

Innovative spirit started early

Born in Eastland and raised in Cameron, McCutchen credits his parents, Bill and Shirley, for his career ambition and success.

“We were an AgriLife Extension family, and my father was an Extension agent for about 30 years. Growing up, they made sure I appreciated the value of hard work and the importance of education.”

McCutchen earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in entomology from Texas A&M University, graduating Magna cum laude. He earned his doctorate in entomology from the University of California-Davis where he studied genetically modified viruses and toxins.

“It was my Ph.D. advisor at U.C.-Davis who made me aware of the importance to protect research discoveries to ensure their potential for commercialization,” he said.

McCutchen received the Distinguished Graduate Student Research Award from Texas A&M and the Young Scientist Award from the American Chemical Society during his doctoral studies at University of California-Davis.

McCutchen was hired as a research biologist at DuPont Agriculture & Nutrition in Wilmington, Delaware. He worked for DuPont for 13 years achieving the ranks of technical lead, head of insect biotechnology and then head of research and discovery for insects, herbicide and pathogens at Pioneer Hybrid in Iowa. 

During his tenure at DuPont, McCutchen was issued patents for his plant science discoveries and his work in agriculture and biotechnology. He received the DuPont Innovation Award and was named Research Fellow. While at DuPont, he also received the prestigious Inventor of the Year Award and Henry A. Wallace Agricultural Revolution Impact Award for his work to increase crop productivity and enhance insect resistance and herbicide tolerance in key crops. His efforts included combining multiple forms of herbicide tolerance and creating options for producers. 

Rooted in Texas A&M

As an only child, McCutchen said Texas A&M always made him feel like part of a larger family. And as much as he enjoyed his work at Pioneer, he couldn’t deny the draw of his home state and the desire to give back to the institution.

“I made contact with leadership at Texas A&M, including Drs. Elsa Murano and Mark Hussey, and we discussed developing an office focused on revamping intellectual property with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and within the agency,” McCutchen said.

In 2006, McCutchen left DuPont to accept a position with AgriLife Research in Bryan-College Station as a deputy associate director.

He established and grew the Office of Corporate Relations under Hussey, then AgriLife Research director, and helped to move AgriLife Research to the No. 1 status within the Texas A&M University System for patents, royalties and sponsored research with corporate and other partners. 

He championed many sponsored projects and commercial innovations from AgriLife Research scientists in the areas of crop breeding, water chemistry, bioenergy, remote sensing, nutrition, and human and animal health.

In 2011, McCutchen received the Excellence in Innovation Award in recognition of innovative research and commercialization by the Texas A&M University System. 

Throughout his career at Texas A&M AgriLife, McCutchen has built and led multi-disciplinary teams based around technology that have led to major sources of funding. He continues to pursue intellectual property and innovation in new areas, including a recently filed patent application to use Raman spectroscopy for subclinical mastitis in dairy and helping researchers to advance peanut germplasm and native grasses. 

Lasting impact

“Not only is Dr. McCutchen an active champion for recognizing and capturing the value of intellectual property for the Texas A&M University System, he has also consistently led the charge from AgriLife leadership to give intellectual property a priority position within AgriLife,” said Janie Hurley, AgriLife Research Intellectual Property and Commercialization program director, Bryan-College Station.

Hurley also stated McCutchen understands the need to educate and encourage others to identify and harness the value of invention.

“Dr. McCutchen also recognizes the importance of protecting opportunities for the creation of intellectual property by implementing due diligence steps at the earliest stages,” she said. “As part of this, he was critical in forming new teams that brought together expertise in sponsored research proposals, contracts, intellectual property and commercialization whereby proper due diligence was conducted so that projects had the greatest chance of success.”


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