RIT’s Gannett Project Hosts National Medal of Science Recipient Sept. 15
Science pioneer Esther Conwell launches ‘Visionaries in Motion’ series
Sept. 2, 2011
by Vienna Carvalho-McGrain
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Scientist Esther Conwell is known in professional circles as a trailblazer, pioneer in electron transfer in semiconductors—and someone who stands true to her convictions and views women as powerhouses in the fields of science and technology.
Conwell will inspire a new generation of scientists and impress experts already in the field when she speaks as part of Rochester Institute of Technology’s 2011–2012 Caroline Werner Gannett Project, “Visionaries in Motion V.” Conwell’s talk, “Conductive Properties of DNA,” is at 8 p.m. Sept. 15 in Carlson Auditorium, Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science.
Conwell is credited with contributing to the technological revolution with her early breakthrough research in electron transport in semiconductors and is widely known for her theoretical studies of the properties of materials. Her early research with famed physicist V. F. Weisskopf on the effect of impurities on the motion of electrons was an important step toward the understanding of conduction in semiconductors, the materials of which transistors are made. That, paired with additional research, contributed to better design of transistors and to the technologies that led to the computer revolution. She also made significant contributions to theory for conducting polymers, now considered to be highly promising for efficient light sources, and to conduction in DNA.
Conwell was honored by Discover magazine in 2002 as one of “the 50 most important women in science.” President Barack Obama awarded the National Medal of Science to Conwell in 2010. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She also holds a joint appointment in chemistry and physics at the University of Rochester.
The Gannett Project’s “Visionaries in Motion” series explores new connections across technologies, social sciences and humanities, increasing opportunities for interdisciplinary understanding and collaboration both on campus and in the Greater Rochester community. In 2009, the series was selected by City Newspaper’s Critics’ Pick for “Best Lecture Series in Rochester.”
All Gannett Project talks are free and open to the public. For more information about the Caroline Werner Gannett Project, go to www.cwgp.org.