Rensselaer Inducts Five New Individuals Into Alumni Hall of Fame

September 23, 2011

Rensselaer Inducts Five New Individuals Into Alumni Hall of Fame

Livingston Houston ’13, Peter Bohlin ’58, Steven Sasson ’72, Claire Fraser-Liggett ’77, and Jeffrey Friedman ’77 Join the Alumni Hall of Fame in Its First-Ever Public Induction Ceremony

Rensselaer Alumni Hall of Fame
Livingston Houston ’13
Peter Bohlin ’58
Steven Sasson ’72
Claire Fraser-Liggett ’77
Jeffrey Friedman ’77

Top row, l to r: Livingston Houston ’13, Peter Bohlin ’58
Bottom row, l to r: Steven Sasson ’72, Claire Fraser-Liggett ’77, Jeffrey Friedman ’77

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has inducted four alumni and one alumna into the Rensselaer Alumni Hall of Fame during a first-ever public induction ceremony Sept. 23 at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC). The individuals honored include: Livingston Houston, Class of 1913; Peter Bohlin, Class of 1958; Steven Sasson, Class of 1972; Claire Fraser-Liggett, Class of 1977; and Jeffrey Friedman, Class of 1977.

“The distinguished Rensselaer graduates we honor today have been at the forefront of modern genetic research, developed inventions that have changed how we view our society, forever impacted the field of sustainable architecture, and brought Rensselaer into the modern era,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson, “They truly embody the growing legacy of innovation and change that Rensselaer alumni and alumnae have brought to the world for almost two centuries.”

Livingston Houston ’13: The 11th president of Rensselaer, Houston guided the Institute through extraordinary growth and change following World War II. He created the modern administrative structure and established a graduate school and research division. He pioneered new degree programs and introduced programs in language and literature, philosophy, psychology, and economics. Under Houston, the branch campus in Hartford, Connecticut, was established. Houston’s imaginative and lucrative method of investing tripled the endowment funds at that time. To further expand campus life, Houston brought to campus the Field House that now bears his name as an outlet for cultural and athletic activities and an arena for broader community interaction.

Peter Bohlin: An internationally acclaimed architect and founder of the firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Bohlin’s body of work includes private houses, urban libraries, commercial buildings, and civic centers. His first design, Forest House, came to national attention in 1975 on the cover of the New York Times Magazine. Bohlin has been noted for creating timeless architecture that celebrates a sense of place, context, and ecological sensitivity. Notable projects include the Washington state residence of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and retail stores for Apple, including the iconic glass cube at 5th Avenue in New York City. He is the 2010 recipient of the Gold Medal awarded by the American Institute of Architects.

Steven Sasson: A lifelong research engineer at Eastman Kodak Company, Sasson changed the future of photography when he invented the world’s first digital camera. In 1975 Sasson developed the first prototype for a digital camera; it was eight pounds and about the size of a toaster. He received a patent for it in 1978, and continued to work in the emerging field, finding ways to store, transmit, and manipulate digital images. Today, a majority of Americans own digital cameras, many as close as their mobile phones. The entire digital imaging industry traces directly back to Sasson’s original innovation. Sasson was awarded the 2010 National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

Claire Fraser-Liggett: Fraser-Liggett helped launch the field of microbial genomics and revolutionized the way microbiology has been studied. In a landmark publication in 1995, she reported on the first complete genome sequence of a free-living organism, H. influenzae. Her pioneering work in the sequencing and analysis of human, animal, plant, and microbial genomes has led to a better understanding of the role that genes play in evolution, physiology, and disease. A former president of The Institute for Genomic Research, in 2007 she launched the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Fraser-Liggett has led the way in applying genomic and bioinformatic tools to address challenges in disease research, bioterrorism, and environmental issues.

Jeffrey Friedman: Friedman is a distinguished biomedical scientist who, in 1994, discovered leptin, a hormone secreted by fat cells that regulates food intake and energy expenditure and has powerful effects on reproduction, metabolism, other endocrine systems, and immune function. His groundbreaking research has helped demonstrate that obesity can be a result of metabolic and hormonal disruptions rather than a lack of willpower, and has opened obesity research to molecular exploration. In addition to providing a new target for treating obesity, the discovery of leptin has helped scientists develop treatments for other metabolic conditions, including certain forms of diabetes. A professor and laboratory head at Rockefeller University today, he has held a concurrent position as an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1986. A member of the National Academy of Sciences and its Institute of Medicine, Friedman was awarded the prestigious Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 2010.

In addition to the induction ceremony on September 23, Fraser-Liggett and Friedman joined the leadership of the Rensselaer Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) that morning for a panel discussion at the center titled “Biotechnology: Rensselaer’s Impact — Past and Present.”

Sasson was also honored by President Jackson and Dean of Engineering David Rosowsky with the 2011 Davies Medal for Engineering Achievement on September 22.

The names and accomplishments of the members of the Alumni Hall of Fame are celebrated in etched windows that line Thomsen Hall in the Darrin Communications Center on campus.

The Rensselaer Alumni Association established the Rensselaer Alumni Hall of Fame in 1995 to document the long tradition of excellence shared by Rensselaer graduates. This year’s inductees to the Alumni Hall of Fame bring the total number of members to date to 68. For more information on the inductees, visit:

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


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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, over 30 research centers, more than 140 academic programs including 25 new programs, and a dynamic community made up of over 6,800 students and 104,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include upwards of 155 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. To learn more, please visit