Published July 6, 2018
Edward P. Furlani, UB engineering professor and fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, whose pioneering work in microfluidics, inkjet systems, optoelectronics and other fields is recognized worldwide, died suddenly July 3. He was 65.
A UB faculty member since 2011, Furlani held appointments in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and the Department Electrical Engineering, both in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Prior to joining the university, he was a principal scientist at Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, where he was awarded 152 U.S. patents and 40 foreign patents.
His industrial experience spanned 27 years and included a broad range of applications in the fields of microfluidics, inkjet systems, optoelectronics, applied magnetics and microsystems technology.
Among Kodak’s most prolific inventors, he received the Prolific Inventor Award (2008) from the Society for Imaging Science and Technology, and Kodak’s Chief Technology Officer Century Award (2001) in recognition of his innovative contributions.
When Furlani was elected last year as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the academy cited him for 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.”
The peer-nominated honor is the highest professional distinction accorded to academic researchers by the academy. Among other individuals, the list of NAI fellows includes presidents and senior leaders of research universities and nonprofit research institutes, Nobel laureates, and recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and the U.S. National Medal of Science.
At UB, Furlani established a research program that developed computational methods and models to create next-generation materials and devices with features and functionality designed at the nano- to micro-scale. His current projects spanned applications of microfluidics, additive manufacturing, bio-sensing, energy storage, photonics and bio-applications of magnetic particles.
“It goes without saying that the loss of Ed will be a great blow to our departments, the school and the university,” said Jonathan Bird, professor and chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering, and Mark Swihart, UB Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. “Not only due to his reputation as a scholar, teacher, mentor and inventor, but because he was a friend to us all, the very best of colleagues and a genuinely decent human being who cared deeply about his students and took great pride in their accomplishments.
“Our thoughts are with his family at this very difficult time.”
Liesl Folks, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, called Furlani “a remarkable scholar and prolific inventor who had been recognized as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2017.”
“Ed was an exceptionally generous, kind and thoughtful colleague who made tremendous contributions to UB through his teaching, mentoring, advisement and service,” Folks said. “He will be greatly missed.”
In addition to his service to UB, Furlani served as an advisory board member for various companies and as a symposium organizer and steering committee member for international conferences. He also served on the editorial boards and as a reviewer for numerous journals, and on national and international scientific review panels.
His cumulative research contributions included more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, 90 publications in conference proceedings, a sole-authored textbook on applied magnetics, and numerous book chapters and invited conference presentations.
Furlani was a graduate of UB, receiving a PhD in theoretical physics, a master’s degree in physics and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the university.
Survivors include his brother, Thomas Furlani, director of UB’s Center for Computational Research.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. July 9 at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, 5337 Genesee St., Bowmansville.
Memorials may be made to the UB Foundation, P.O. Box 900, Buffalo, NY, 14226-0900, to benefit the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.