Montana State University

Five pioneers in technology, biodiversity to receive Stibitz, Wilson awards Oct. 3

September 26, 2013 -- MSU News Service

Primatologist Frans de Waal has won an Edward O. Wilson Biodiversity Technology Pioneer Award.The late Walt Disney has won a George R. Stibitz Computer and Communications Award. Jean Sweeney of 3M has won an Edward O. Wilson Biodiversity Technology Pioneer Award.John Holland,   an expert in complex adaptive systems, has won a George R. Stibitz Computer and Communications Award.Charles Hull, inventor of 3-D technology, has won a George R. Stibitz Computer and Communications Award.

Primatologist Frans de Waal has won an Edward O. Wilson Biodiversity Technology Pioneer Award.   High-Res Available

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BOZEMAN -- The inventor of 3-D technology, the late Walt Disney and a renowned scientist who learned empathy from chimpanzees are among five people who will be honored Oct. 3 in Bozeman for their pioneering work in computers, communications or biodiversity.

The George R. Stibitz Computer and Communications Award will go to Charles W. Hull, the inventor of 3-D technology; John Holland, an expert in complex adaptive systems; and Disney, best known for his theme parks, movies and animated characters.

The Edward O. Wilson Biodiversity Technology Pioneer Award will go to primatologist Frans de Waal and 3M executive Jean B. Sweeney.

Both awards were established by George Keremedjiev, founder and director of the American Computer and Robotics Museum in Bozeman and a 2009 recipient of an honorary doctorate at Montana State University. Keremedjiev presented the first Stibitz awards in 1997. Prominent biologist E.O. Wilson – who received a Stibitz award in 2006 for pioneering the Electronic Encyclopedia of Life – presented the first Wilson award in 2009.  

Because of health-constricted travel, Wilson will be unable to present his award this year, Keremedjiev said. It will be presented instead by de Waal.

The recipients of this year’s awards will receive their awards in a private ceremony, but they will sign books and meet with the general public at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, at the Country Bookshelf in downtown Bozeman, Keremedjiev said.

Earlier in the day, the awardees will meet with MSU faculty and students in various MSU departments that are pertinent to their specialties. At the same time, de Waal will speak to honors students. The primatologist and ethologist who has explored primate interactions and how they compare to man is expected to bring a fresh look at empathy and how it impacts society. de Waal discusses the roles of reciprocity and empathy using what he describes as the “Pillars of Morality.” Using photographs and video from years of research, de Waal will educate and entertain as he highlights “empathy” in MSU’s Year of Engaged Leadership. The year – August 2013 to May 2014 -- highlights the many events and activities of the university that help develop the leadership skills of students, faculty, staff and community members.

A free, but ticketed event for the MSU community will be held from 3:10 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 3 in room 339 of Leon Johnson Hall. The event will involve a lecture by de Waal and brief comments by the other honorees. Tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis by the MSU Honors Program.  

Explaining more about this year’s awardees, Keremedjiev said:

Hull -- the co-founder, executive vice president and chief technology officer of 3D Systems -- invented the solid imaging process known as stereolithography (3-D printing), the first commercial rapid prototyping technology, and the STL file format. He holds more than 60 U.S. patents as well as patents around the world including in the fields of ion optics and rapid prototyping.

“Seemingly a week cannot pass by without the mention of 3-D printing for advanced manufacturing in both the general and technical media,” Keremedjiev said.  “It is, bar none, the ‘hottest’ technology for modern and future manufacturing in the world. In fact, much of President Obama's and the Congress' manufacturing initiatives center themselves around the proliferation of Mr. Hull's invention (3-D printing).”

Holland, professor of psychology and electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, wrote the ground-breaking book on genetic algorithms, "Adaptation in Natural and Artificial Systems.” He also developed Holland's schema theorem. He frequently lectures around the world on his own research, and on current research and open questions in complex adaptive systems studies. He is a member of the Board of Trustees and Science Board of the Santa Fe Institute. He received the MacArthur Fellowship in 1992 and is a fellow of the World Economic Forum.

Disney made seminal contributions to the development of robotics and animatronics, a key technological and social contribution to today's field of social robotics, Keremedjiev said. Disney’s award will be accepted by his daughter, Diane Disney-Miller.  

de Waal has written many books, including “Chimpanzee Politics and Our Inner Ape” and “The Age of Empathy:  Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society.” His research centers on primate social behavior, including conflict resolution, cooperation, inequity aversion and food-sharing.  He is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Primate Behavior in the Emory University psychology department in Atlanta, Ga., and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. He is a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences. 

Sweeney -- vice president for environmental, health, safety and sustainability at 3M -- is a frequent guest speaker on 3M’s sustainability strategy and performance at conferences worldwide. She has held a diversity of positions with 3M including product development, manufacturing management, general manager, and two international assignments as manufacturing director for 3M Australia in Sydney and managing director of 3M Taiwan in Taipei. She is currently responsible for 3M's global environmental, health, safety, and sustainability programs. This includes technical and regulatory expertise in environmental, safety, ergonomics and industrial hygiene, and 3M's governance framework for sustainability strategies. Born and raised in Montana, Sweeney is an MSU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. She also has an MBA from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.

For more details on this year’s awards, go to

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or