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Five Researchers Represent Rensselaer at World Economic Forum "Summer Davos" Meeting

September 9, 2009

Five Researchers Represent Rensselaer at World Economic Forum "Summer Davos" Meeting

Economists around the world are predicting that transformational entrepreneurship and technology will be required to truly lift the global economy from its dangerous slump. A thousand of the globe’s most promising innovators will come together September 10-12 in Dalian, China, to present their ideas for a new wave of economic growth as part of the World Economic Forum “Summer Davos” in Asia meeting. 

Five Rensselaer educators and researchers will have the honor of representing Rensselaer as one of only a handful of universities invited to the international discussion. They will present their ideas on how the innovative engineering that is such a strong part of research and education at Rensselaer can lead the world into a new era of health, prosperity, connectivity, and high technology.

The Rensselaer faculty participating in the forum include:

  • Jonathan Dordick – Howard P. Isermann Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Director of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS);
  • Anna Dyson – Associate Professor of Architecture and Director of the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE);
  • James Hendler – Senior Constellation Professor of the Tetherless World Research Constellation and Assistant Dean for Information Technology;
  • Robert Hull – Henry Burlage Jr. Professor of Engineering and Head of Materials Science and Engineering; and
  • Shawn-Yu Lin – Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy and Senior Constellation Professor of Future Chips. 

The Rensselaer participants will speak individually in various sessions on their designated areas of expertise, offering their ideas on everything from green design to safer drugs. Their Summer Davos experience will culminate on September 12 with an “IdeasLab” on innovative engineering.

Rensselaer is one of only seven international universities to be invited to present an IdeasLab to the summit participants, which include global businesses leaders and government officials. The IdeasLab format allows these global leaders to learn firsthand about the leading-edge research, trends, and ideas taking shape in the most advanced academic laboratories in the world.

“We are honored to have a seat at the table in this important discussion,” Jonathan Dordick said. “The technology that we are building today with our students in the labs at Rensselaer is literally the technology of the future. We look to the leaders who will be present at this meeting to take this knowledge and help us translate it outside the laboratory into the greater society and economy.”

The Rensselaer IdeasLab will walk participants through the entire physical scale of engineering innovation from the smallest nanomaterial to the unfathomable extents of the World Wide Web.

“We are providing a window into the world in 2020,” Dordick said. “Our collective research represents how we will live, work, play, how we will cure disease, communicate with each other, and design our communities.” 

Robert Hull will begin the discussion at the smallest scale with a discussion on innovations in nanomaterials. Hull’s research focuses on the performance of nanomaterials and their use in the advancement of semiconductor design and power. Hull will also be participating in an earlier interactive session titled “The Big Bet on Nanotechnology.” 

Shawn-Yu Lin will then discuss his use of technology, including at the nano-scale, to manipulate the energy in light to increase the absorption and exploitation of light for use as energy. His discussion will include ways to develop stronger solar technology. Lin will also be participating in a briefing session on “The Photonics Revolution.”

Dordick will bring the discussion from the nano-scale to the human-scale with a discussion of drug safety and personalized medicine. His own research to synthetically rebuild the natural processes and materials of the body will play an important role in the discussion. 

Anna Dyson takes it a much larger scale with a discussion on the integration of green thought and technology in the design of buildings and cities. Dyson will also be participating in another IdeasLab on “The Future of Cities.”

James Hendler will close the discussion with a look at the massive and complex interactions between humans, computers, and data. The hub of these interactions is the World Wide Web. Hendler and Dordick will both also join a session on “Groundbreaking Discoveries in Science.” 

More information on the Summer Davos program and the World Economic Forum can be found at

Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
Phone: (518) 276-6542


Reeve Hamilton
Director of Media Relations and Communications

(518) 833-4277

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About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.