WMU News

Lecture addresses enormous potential of nanotechnology

Oct. 12, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- A prominent physicist will be on the Western Michigan University campus Oct. 20 and 21 to talk about the why the world of the infinitesimal is such a big deal.

Dr. J. Thomas Dickinson, the Paul A. Anderson professor of physics and professor of material science at Washington State University, will speak on "The Enormous Little World of Nanotechnology" at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21, in the Lee Honors College Lounge.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is part of WMU's Centennial Scholar and Artist Series. An introduction to the exciting field of nanotechnology, it will include examples of the current and future advances in this area as well as a discussion of motives, benefits and possible risks.

"Currently, the scientific and technological efforts in the area of nanotechnology are exploding," Dickinson says in an abstract describing his intended presentation. "It opens the possibility of making objects as accurately as nature itself."

While at WMU, Dickinson also will present a public colloquium on "The Interaction of Ultraviolet and Ultrafast Lasers With Materials" at 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 20, in Room 1110 Rood Hall. In addition, he will be meeting with students and faculty in the Lee Honors College and Department of Physics, the units sponsoring his appearance.

A member of the Washington State University faculty since 1968, Dickinson has done research in physics education, surface science and the physics and chemistry of materials.

He is recognized internationally for his pioneering work in materials science and his contributions in both laser research and nanotribology. Among his important national contributions are laser techniques that may help laboratories across the country analyze part of America's nuclear waste materials.

The breadth and importance of Dickinson's research is reflected in his election as a Fellow of the American Physical Society; being among the first chosen as a Fellow by the American Vacuum Society, the premier society for surface science research; and continuously receiving funding in applied surface science for more than 30 years, winning significant grants from such agencies and corporations as the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, Goodyear and Boeing.

The Detroit native and former Kalamazoo resident is active in several professional and WSU organizations, was instrumental in initiating WSU's honors science classes and helped found WSU's Center for Materials Research, which he has twice served as director. He also serves as his current institution's undergraduate physics adviser, frequently involving undergraduate students in his research.

A1963 graduate of WMU, Dickinson majored in both physics and mathematics and was among the first class of students in what is now the University's Lee Honors College to receive their diplomas. He went on to earn master of science and doctor of philosophy degrees in physics from the University of Michigan in 1964 and 1968, respectively.

He has written or co-written more than 280 articles and book chapters, presented hundreds of invited talks, and won numerous prestigious awards and honors for his research, teaching excellence and professional activities.

He has served as a visiting lecturer/instructor in Japan, Germany and Austria as well as a visiting scientist at Stanford University and the NASA-Ames Research Center; received WMU's 2003 Distinguished Alumni Award; and received WSU's 2003 Marian E. Smith Faculty Achievement Award, which recognizes significant and meritorious achievement in teaching.

The Centennial Scholar and Artist Series has been in the making for more than a year and includes an exciting lineup of lectures, performances and presentations. Guests for the series are national and international achievers in such areas as the arts and culture, business, education, government, health and science. Several are WMU graduates and/or have longstanding ties to Kalamazoo.

A complete schedule of presentations planned in the Centennial Scholars and Artists Series, as well as information about WMU's other centennial-related events, is available online at <www.wmich.edu/centennial>.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 616 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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