If you have ideas, please add it to the public idea spreadsheet he started. I strongly you to go there and contribute.
Lucene is the most widely used search engine library. If important new academic ideas that improve retrieval get incorporated, the impact would be huge.
However, historically, the Lucene community and academia has been kept very separate. Instead, the research teams have developed their own systems, the fragmentation is apparent if you look at my list of open source search libraries.
Lucene's ranking algorithms are dated and it is inflexible and difficult to change. Because it is so widely adopted, it is hard to modify and extend in radical ways. If academia is going to get involved, some of these issues need to be addressed, and a lot of it is straightforward engineering work that would enable it to be a better research platform.