Nobel Prize Laureate To Examine Science, Society, and Space at Rensselaer

October 18, 2011

Nobel Prize Laureate To Examine Science, Society, and Space at Rensselaer

Sir Harold Walter Kroto, Winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Will Speak on Oct. 19 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as Part of Vollmer Fries Lecture Series

Sir Harold Walter Kroto, winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, will speak at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute about science in today’s society.

Kroto’s presentation, titled “Science and Society in the 21st Century,” will take place at 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19, in room 330 of the Darrin Communications Center (DCC) at Rensselaer. A reception will follow in the Ansell Lounge of the Jonsson Engineering Center.  He will also present a separate lecture titled “Carbon in Nano and Outer Space” at 11 a.m. in DCC 337 as part of the Rensselaer Department of Materials Science and Engineering Seminar Series. Both lectures are free and open to the public and the Rensselaer community.

“We are extremely pleased and excited to welcome Dr. Kroto to the Rensselaer campus, and to hear what I’m sure will be two insightful and lively lectures,” said Robert Hull, head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer. “Dr. Kroto is a tour de force in the areas of materials science as well as science education, and I am very confident his visit will be memorable for our students, faculty, and staff.”

Kroto was a member of the research team to discover the C60 carbon fullerenes, a breakthrough with major implications across broad fields of materials science, chemistry, physics, and biomedicine. His morning lecture will be on topics surrounding the discovery of C60 carbon fullerenes, stellar research, and the investigation of the 90-year-old mystery of Diffuse Interstellar Bands (DIBs). Kroto’s afternoon presentation, part of the Rensselaer Vollmer Fries Lecture Series, will focus on his thesis that a liberal, democratic sociopolitical environment is a necessary condition for creativity in the sciences and the arts to flourish.

See the full abstracts of Kroto’s presentations at:

Kroto is a Francis Eppes professor of chemistry at Florida State University, where he is carrying out research in nanoscience and cluster chemistry as well as developing new Internet approaches to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational outreach. In 1996, he was knighted for his contributions to chemistry and later that year was one of three recipients of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of London, and holds an emeritus professorship at the University of Sussex in Brighton, United Kingdom. Kroto also initiated the Global Educational Outreach for Science, Engineering, and Technology program, or GEOSET, which seeks to exploit the revolutionary creative dynamics of the Internet to improve the general level of science teaching worldwide. See his full bio at

Kroto’s visit is part of the Vollmer Fries Lecture Series, sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer.

The Vollmer Fries Lecture Series was established by Vollmer Fries, who graduated from Rensselaer in 1924 with a degree in electrical engineering. He led several manufacturing companies and served his country during World War II, serving as deputy chief of the War Production Board. In 1950, Fries became a member of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees.

Contact: Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161