Montana State University

Science's big thinkers at MSU on Oct. 7

September 24, 2010 -- MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
Bozeman - Some of the world's greatest minds in science and technology will participate in a free, public panel discussion entitled "The Future of Humanity and Technology" to be held Oct. 7 at Montana State University.

The panelists are winners of the Edward O. Wilson and George R. Stibitz awards to be presented prior to their discussion. The event begins at 7 p.m. in the ballrooms of MSU's Strand Union Building. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The moderator will be Robert Rydell, the Michael P. Malone Professor of History at MSU.

The Edward O. Wilson Awards honor individuals whose scientific discoveries, inventions or literary works have helped advance the biodiversity of life on Earth. The George R. Stibitz Awards honor individuals whose contributions have advanced computer and/or communications technologies, software and applications.

Wilson himself will be at the ceremony. A Harvard entomology professor, Wilson is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and is widely regarded as "the father of biodiversity" and one of the most noted scientists in the world.

The Wilson and Stibitz awards are sponsored by the American Computer Museum and its founder, George Keremedjiev, who received an MSU honorary doctorate in 2009, with support from the MSU College of Engineering, the MSU College of Letters and Science, the MSU Humanities Institute, and the MSU Computer Science Department.

The awardees are:

E.O. Wilson Award
Sir Alec Jeffreys,
genetics professor at the University of Leicester, United Kingdom, for inventing DNA fingerprinting. Jeffreys' work is the basis of modern DNA forensics used in law enforcement worldwide. For that, Jeffreys has received numerous awards including a Knighthood, the Royal Medal of the Royal Society, the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine, the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award and the Dr. HP Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics.

E.O. Wilson Award
Lynn Margulis,
Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, for the theory of symbiogenesis and seminal contributions to understanding evolution and biology. Margulis, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, received the Presidential Medal of Science in 1999 from President Clinton. In 1998, the Library of Congress announced it would permanently archive her papers.

E.O. Wilson Award
David Quammen,
former Wallace Stegner Chair, Department of History and Philosophy at MSU, for exemplary writing about science, biodiversity and the evolution of life on Earth. Quammen is the author of Natural Acts, The Flight of the Iguana, The Song of the Dodo, Wild Thoughts from Wild Places, Monster of God and The Reluctant Mr. Darwin. For 15 years he wrote the science column Natural Acts, for Outside magazine. He has also been published in Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, National Geographic, Rolling Stone, and the Smithsonian.

Stibitz Award
Barbara Liskov,
Ford Professor of Engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in the School of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an MIT Institute Professor, for her foundational contributions to computer languages and object oriented programming. Liskov's innovations have been the basis of every important programming language since 1975, including Ada, C , Java and C#. Her most significant impact stems from data abstraction, a valuable method for organizing complex programs. With a 1968 degree from Stanford, Liskov became the first woman in the United States to receive a doctorate in computer science. In 2009 she received the Association for Computing Machinery's A.M. Turing Award, one of the highest honors in science and engineering.

Stibitz Award
Max Matthews,
professor emeritus, Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, Stanford University, for pioneering computer generated music and his seminal contributions to digital music technologies and software. Renowned as the "father of computer music," Matthews worked in acoustic research at AT&T Bell Laboratories from 1955 to 1987 where he directed the Behavioral and Acoustic Research Center. In 1957, Matthews demonstrated music synthesis on a digital computer with his Music I program. That was followed by Music II through Music V and GROOVE, programs all involved in composing and performing music on and with computers. Mathews is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and is a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Acoustical Society of America, the IEEE, and the Audio Engineering Society.

Stibitz Award
Steve Sasson,
retired research scientist for the Eastman Kodak Company, for inventing the first digital camera. In 1975, Eastman Kodak Company asked Sasson: "Could a camera be built using solid state electronics, solid state imagers, and an electronic sensor known as a charge-coupled device that gathers optical information?" Sasson built an 8-pound, toaster-size device that captured a black-and-white image at a resolution of 10,000 pixels, took 23 seconds to record onto a digital cassette tape and another 23 seconds to read off a playback unit onto a television. Numerous organizations have honored Sasson for his invention Among his awards are The Economist Magazine's 2009 Innovation Award.

Contact: George Keremedjiev, American Computer Museum,, 406-582-1288