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Top Math And Chemistry Professors Invited To BC

Asst. News Editor

Published: Monday, April 23, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 20:01

chem 4/23

Daniel Lee / Heights Editor

Every year, Boston College’s mathematics and chemistry departments invite one expert each to discuss his or her field of expertise. This year, the chemistry department selected Charles M. Lieber, the Mark Hyman Jr. Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University. The mathematics department hosted Robert Ghrist, a math professor at the University of Pennsylvania. During lectures given last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings, the professors discussed nanotechnology and applications of math, respectively.

According to The Chronicle, Lieber has concentrated on connecting nanotechnology and biology by using novel synthesized materials. His projects include research on how to detect disease markers and create hybrid tissue.

Lieber discussed the future of nanotechnology, the synthesis and energy applications of nanowires, and the ways in which biology and nanotechnology intersect.

In January, he was awarded the Wolf Prize in Chemistry for his research and achievements regarding semiconductor nanowires that have led to significant developments in the scientific community’s understanding of the properties and uses of nanowires. Largely considered second only to the Nobel Prize, the Wolf Prize is, according to the Wolf Foundation’s website, awarded annually to people for achievements in the fields of mathematics, medicine, chemistry, physics, agriculture, and the arts that promote “the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples.”

Lieber was also named the top chemist of the last decade on Reuters’ list of the 100 most influential chemists from 2000-2010.

Ghrist specializes in topology, or the mathematical study of holes. In his first lecture, he discussed the reasons for various holes such as why cell phones drop calls and why healthy fast food is impossible to find. His second lecture focused on the Euler characteristic, a number that represents a topological space’s structure, and how it can be applied to network data application. Ghrist gave his final lecture at BC about sheaves, a topological tool that helps integrate local data into the greater global structure, and their new applications to problems regarding networks and sensing.

Ghrist is one of 14 Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) professors. The program awards joint appointments between Penn’s schools to professors who can help students answer difficult questions that encompass more than one academic field of study. Ghrist has been appointed to the faculty of both the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Department of Mathematics in the School of Arts and Sciences at Penn.

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