Prestigious Franklin Institute Awards recognize science and technology accomplishments

Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute held the 2017 Franklin Awards Week, Ceremony and Dinner last week. (Photo by <a rel="nofoll
Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute held the 2017 Franklin Awards Week, Ceremony and Dinner last week. (Photo by Savaria Photography) | Congrats to the 2017 @TheFranklin Award winners! Great to honor and celebrate these pioneers in #science, #engineering, #tech + #business - TE Connectivity

The Franklin Institute proudly honored nine individuals last week, at the 2017 Franklin Institute Awards and Convocation, awarding them the prestigious 2017 Franklin Institute Award, for their contributions to science. The recipients joined an extraordinary list of great men and women who have significantly improved our world with their pioneering discoveries and innovations.

Hosted by Willie Geist, host of NBC News’ “Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist” and co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” the elegant black-tie event took place in the Jordan Lobby & Bartol Atrium and Giant Heart, at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, one of the country’s oldest and premier centers of science education and development.

The Franklin Institute Awards ceremony and dinner culminated a week-long series of events and programs, Awards Week, designed to shine an important spotlight on advancements in science and technology, as well as extraordinary business leadership. In addition to a series of learning opportunities for the public including lectures and symposia throughout Greater Philadelphia, educational programs were conducted for area high school students.

Alongside public demonstrations designed to provide direct and unprecedented access to the internationally distinguished laureates, they share their discoveries, experiences, and perspectives with the community. These events offer a unique insider’s view on research activities in a range of disciplines, which culminated in the grand medaling ceremony.

“The Franklin Institute Awards Week is a fantastic series of events, which is like a Nobel Prize thing in the USA,” New Britain, Pennsylvania resident, Alan Gold, posted on Facebook. “I met so many incredible scientists from around the world, and also the great Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford and Boeing.”

Through the awards ceremony and medal presentations, which were held in the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, the Franklin Institute aimed to provide public recognition and encouragement of excellence in science and technology. Reflecting the spirit of discovery embodied by Benjamin Franklin, the Franklin Institute Awards have recognized and encouraged preeminent accomplishments in science and technology on an international level since the Institute was founded in 1824.

“What an amazing evening at The Franklin Institute Awards Ceremony!” Evolve IP exclaimed in a Facebook post. “We honored the inventor of the LED, the grandfather of climate science, the queen of carbon, and more amazing scientists.“

Past laureates who have come to Philadelphia to receive their medals reads like a "Who's Who" in the history of 19th, 20th, and 21st century science, including Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Rudolf Diesel, Pierre and Marie Curie, Orville Wright, Albert Einstein, Edwin Hubble, Frank Lloyd Wright, Edmund Bacon, Marshall Warren Nirenberg, Jacques Cousteau, Mildred Cohn, Stephen Hawking, Martin Rees, Paul Baran, Gordon Moore, Jane Goodall, Herb Kelleher, Elizabeth Blackburn, Bill Gates, Dean Kamen, Subra Suresh, and Michael Dell.

To date, 117 Franklin Institute laureates also have been honored with Nobel Prizes. The majority received their Franklin Institute Awards prior to their Nobel Prizes—by as many as 36 years. George E. Smith received The Franklin Institute’s Ballantine medal in 1973 and his Nobel Prize in Physics in 2009. His Nobel Prize was shared with Charles Kuen Kao and Willard S. Boyle, both of whom won the Ballantine medal (previously awarded by the Franklin Institute) in 1977, 32 years before being honored by the Nobel Committee.

“Such an incredible time honoring the winners of this year's Franklin Institute Awards, at The Franklin Institute, on behalf of TE Connectivity tonight!,” tweeted Leeza Zhmurkin.

A day later, the Integration Project Manager at TE Connectivity was “still in awe at the commitment to learning the Franklin Institute Awards recipients possess. It was an honor to meet some of them last night.”

For nearly 175 years, the Institute’s awards program presented 25 different awards, most endowed by generous benefactors. In 1998 the program was reorganized under the umbrella of the Benjamin Franklin Medals. Fields recognized today include chemistry, civil and mechanical engineering, computer and cognitive science, Earth and environmental science, electrical engineering, life science, and physics. See this list below of the 2017 Franklin Institute Award recipients.

The Bower Award for Business Leadership and the Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science are made possible by a bequest in 1988 from Philadelphia chemical manufacturer Henry Bower, the grandson of a 19th century Franklin Institute laureate. Established in 1990, the award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in an American business or industry while adhering to the highest ethical standards, and who serve as inspiration to present and future leaders, much like the Institute’s namesake.

The Bower Science Award is presented in a different, predetermined field each year and includes a cash prize of $250,000. Alan Mulally, formerly of The Ford Motor Company and Boeing Commercial Ariplanes, is this year’s Bower Award for Business Leadership recipient.

Zhmurkin's colleague, Kristin Nguyen, agreed with her praise of the activities and events surrounding the Franklin Institute Awards. “Meeting the Franklin Institute Awards Laureates was the highlight of my week! Incredibly talented, innovative minds.”

Honored with a regional Emmy® award, The Franklin Institute Awards: Declaration of Progress video illustrates the rich history of the 193-year-old Awards Program.


2017 BOWER AWARD FOR BUSINESS LEADERSHIP | ALAN MULALLY The Ford Motor Company, Retired | Dearborn, Michigan | Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Retired | Seattle, Washington

For his extraordinary career in the aeronautics, astronautics, and automotive industries, particularly for his transformative leadership of the Ford Motor Company, which revitalized the company’s legacy as an icon of American business and innovation.

2017 BOWER AWARD & PRIZE FOR ACHIEVEMENT IN SCIENCE | CLAUDE LORIUS, PH.D. French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) | Paris, France

For iconic contributions to the understanding of global climate change from the analysis of greenhouse gas concentrations in ice cores from Antarctica, including discovering the glacial-interglacial cyclic relation between atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and temperature that governs past and future climate.


KRZYSZTOF MATYJASZEWSKI, PH.D. | Carnegie Mellon University | Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

MITSUO SAWAMOTO, PH.D. | Kyoto University | Kyoto, Japan

For their seminal contributions to the development of a new polymerization process involving metal catalysts. This powerful process affords unprecedented control of polymer composition and architecture, making possible new materials including improved composites, coatings, dispersants, and biomedical polymers.

2017 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN MEDAL IN COMPUTER & COGNITIVE SCIENCE | MICHAEL I. POSNER, PH.D. University of Oregon | Eugene, Oregon | Weill Medical College of Cornell University | New York, New York

For his central role in establishing the fields of cognitive science and cognitive neuroscience, thus increasing understanding of the human mind and brain through the pioneering use of reaction times and brain imaging in rigorous analyses to characterize attention, individual differences in attention, and both typical and atypical attentional development.

2017 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN MEDAL IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING | NICK HOLONYAK, JR., PH.D. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign | Urbana, Illinois

For the development of the first visible (red) laser and LED used in displays and lighting, and the use of various alloys in colored light sources, which led to reduced energy consumption worldwide and contributed to the realization of optical data communications as the backbone of the Internet.

2017 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN MEDAL IN LIFE SCIENCE | DOUGLAS C. WALLACE, PH.D. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia | Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

For demonstrating the maternal inheritance of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in humans, using mtDNA variation to reconstruct ancient human migrations, identifying the first mtDNA mutation associated with an inherited disease, and showing that mutant mtDNA can profoundly affect the nuclear genome, causing complex diseases, thereby leading the way to therapies for those diseases and the aging process.

2017 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN MEDAL IN MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING | MILDRED S. DRESSELHAUS, PH.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Cambridge, Massachusetts

For her fundamental contributions to the understanding and exploitation of carbon nanomaterials, such as the spheres known as buckminsterfullerenes, the cylindrical pipes called nanotubes, and the single-atom-thick sheets of carbon known as graphene, and for launching the field of low-dimensional thermoelectricity, the direct conversion of heat to electricity. On February 20, 2017 the world lost the brilliant star and icon. General Electric captured Dresselhaus’ dedication to science in a commercial released earlier this year.

2017 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN MEDAL IN PHYSICS | MARVIN L. COHEN, PH.D. University of California, Berkeley | Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Berkeley, California

For making possible atomic-scale calculations of the properties of materials so detailed that new materials and their mechanical, thermal, electrical, and optical properties can be predicted in agreement with experiments.

2017 Franklin Institute Awards Ceremony & Dinner Presenting Sponsor: Bank of America | 2017 Franklin Institute Awards Week Sponsor: TE Connectivity | 2017 Franklin Institute Awards Week Associate Sponsors: Evolve IP, FS Investments, The Morel Family Foundation | 2017 Franklin Institute Awards Partners: AECOM, GSK, Penn Medicine, Temple University, University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science | 2017 Franklin Institute In-Kind Contributions: Affairs to be Remembered, Elan Artists, Frog Commissary, IMS Technology Services | 2017 Franklin Institute Awards Patrons: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, The Danaher, Lynch Family Foundation, The Dow Chemical Company, Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC, FMC Corporation, Independence Blue Cross, Janssen Biotech, Inc., SEI Wealth Platform℠, Sparks, West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. | 2017 Franklin Institute Awards Benefactors: Accenture, Actua, American Airlines, AMETEK, Inc., ANRO Print & Digital, Aqua America, Inc., Arkema Inc., Donald E. and Hana Callaghan, Cigna, Comcast NBC10 Telemundo62, Comcast Spectacor, Cozen O’Connor, Crown Holdings, Inc., Dechert LLP, Deloitte LLP, Drexel University, Annie Duke, Firstrust Bank, Fish & Richardson P.C., FluidEdge Consulting Inc., Mike and Mimi Greenly, Hawk Capital Partners, HM Health Solutions, Lisa D. Kabnick and John H. McFadden, Leonard and Susan Klehr, KPMG LLP, Leadership Solutions, Inc., LiquidHub Inc., The Logan Hotel, David J. Miller and Maureen Brennan-Miller, PECO, The Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Co., PNC

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