University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations
March 27, 2009
Contact: Alice Jackson, Office of Public Relations, (251) 460-6639, (228)209-6920
USA Hosts 16th Annual Research Forum

Dr. Sir Harold Kroto

  Faculty and graduate students will showcase their research, scholarly and creative projects at the 16th Annual USA Research Forum, which will feature a speaker as well as book and poster displays April 2-3 in the Student Center Lobby.

Dr. Sir Harold Kroto, one of the co-recipients of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, will speak on the importance of science education and the urgent need for understanding the disciplines of science, engineering and technology on April 3 at 1 p.m. in the Student Center Ballroom.

Since 2004, Kroto has been the Francis Eppes Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Florida State University.

An ardent advocate for science education, Kroto devotes much of his time and energy to speaking and promoting science careers to young people.

In 1970, his laboratory and radio astronomy studies on long linear carbon chain molecules led to the surprising discovery that existed in interstellar space and also in stars. In 1985, laboratory experiments with co-workers at Rice University uncovered the existence of  buckminsterfullerene, a form of pure carbon better known as “buckyballs.” The extraordinary molecule consists of 60 carbon atoms arranged as a spheroid, in a pattern exactly matching the stitching on soccer balls. The configuration reminded Kroto of the geodesic domes designed by the late inventor and architect Buckminster Fuller, hence the name “buckminsterfullerines.”

In 1995, Kroto inaugurated the Vega Science Trust to create science films of sufficient high quality for network television broadcast. In 1996, Kroto was knighted for his contributions to chemistry and awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry together with Robert Curl and Richard Smalley.  In 2001, he won the Royal Society’s prestigious Michael Faraday Award for his efforts  in public communication of science and technology. The award is given annually to a scientist who has done the most to further public communication of science, engineering or technology in the United Kingdom.

Kroto was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2007, the same year he started a new educational initiative known as GEOSET --  Global Education Outcome in Science, Engineering and Technology.

Following Kroto’s lecture at USA, refreshments and dialog with research forum participants will be held at the forum displays in the Student Center Lobby.

The forum display is a celebration of the extensive and diverse contributions of all the University’s disciplines. It also gives the public and the University community an opportunity to talk with faculty from across the campus about their work and to take a look at the breadth of talent at USA. This year’s forum will include 36 displays from 21 academic departments.

Last year, USA faculty generated more than $44 million in external funding for research and outreach projects. This allows USA to be involved in a wide range of important issues, including improving science and math education in public schools, making advances in health care, protecting the environment and coastline, exploring alternative fuel sources, and many others.

For more information about the research forum, contact De Patterson at (251) 460-6310.


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