Dr. Yilu Liu holds many titles as a University of Tennessee (UT) faculty member: Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chair for Power Electronics; University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) inventor; and Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation–backed Center for Ultra-wide-area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks. Now she can add National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellow to this list.


Dr. Liu was named an NAI Fellow in recognition of her pioneering work in safeguarding our nation’s power grid. Her innovations span a range of fields, from low-cost sensor networks for electric grids to new concepts in visualizing the behavior of grids and how they react to natural phenomena. Among her other accomplishments, Dr. Liu has developed a simplified way of modeling large grids as equivalent transfer functions, which has dramatically reduced the computational burden for real-time look-ahead simulations. She is also the inventor of FNET, a low-cost, deployable GPS-synchronized wide-area frequency monitoring network and situational awareness system that can detect power grid disturbances a thousand miles away using data from 120 V outlets. Over 300 networked monitors cover all five North American grids and over twenty countries worldwide, with live streaming data sent to servers at UT.


Dr. Liu’s innovations in power grid simulation and monitoring have led to several patents and patent applications and interest from both domestic and international companies. UTRF has been instrumental in assisting Dr. Liu with filing seven patent applications in just the last three years, as well as with providing marketing assistance.


“On behalf of UTRF, I want to congratulate Dr. Liu on being named an NAI Fellow,” said UTRF Vice President Stacey Patterson. “This is an incredible honor for the University and UTRF.”


The NAI fellowship is just one of two honors bestowed on Dr. Liu in 2016. Earlier in the year, she was named a member of the National Academy of Engineering. While these honors serve as motivation in her work as a researcher, Dr. Liu is quick to acknowledge the support both the University and UTRF provide to her, her colleagues, and students. “UT creates an environment that makes the research I do possible. I remind my students often that, as researchers, we have an opportunity to benefit society if we keep an open mind and explore innovative solutions. I am very grateful that the University and UTRF recognize this and are supportive of innovation and invention.”


Dr. Liu is the third UTRF inventor to be named an NAI Fellow within the past three years, joining colleagues Doug Birdwell, Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Duane Miller, Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. She and the rest of the 2016 class will be inducted on April 6 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston as part of the NAI’s annual conference.