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Science and technology take center stage this election year

Philadelphia, PA March 3, 2008 On the evening of April 17th, in Philadelphia, following a whirl-wind week of activities celebrating science and the spirit of discovery, nine individuals will be honored with Benjamin Franklin Medals and two will be presented with prestigious Bower Awards. The Franklin Institute Awards, often a precursor to the Nobel Prize, are awarded for outstanding achievements that have directly and positively impacted and enhanced the quality of human life and deepened our understanding of the universe.

The issue of Americas competitive place in the global economy as driven by leadership in science and technology has recently attracted national attention from policy makers, business and community leaders, government officials, editors, writers and other thought leaders in this country. This makes the annual celebration of science tied to The Franklin Institute Awards particularly relevant in this election year.

The rich history and tradition of The Franklin Institute Awards Program dates back to 1824, when the Institute was established to train artisans and mechanics in the fundamentals of engineering and science. Past laureates have included Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, Stephen Hawking, Francis Crick, Jacques Cousteau, Gordon Moore and Jane Goodall. 108 Franklin laureates have won 110 Nobel prizes (2 won twice) and over 50 were recognized by The Franklin Institute prior to Nobel, often times decades before, for the same work. Spanning three centuries, this program is among the most widely known and effective awards programs in existence. Why" Because The Franklin Institute Awards Program changes lives by making science accessible and relevant to the lives of everyone, which is key to inspiring the next generation of great scientists and engineers who will invent the future. The future economic success of our country depends on Americans out-performing the competition with smart people and innovative ideas. These exceptional individuals and their remarkable achievements do more than continue our 184-year-old-legacy. said Dennis M. Wint, President and CEO of the Franklin Institute, They serve as role models for our youth, helping ignite that spark of curiosity which has led to so many incredible discoveries and inventions.

This April, The Franklin Institute celebrates science, technology and business leadership by honoring the following individuals for their monumental and critical achievements:

  • Judea Pearl, receives the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science for advancing the world of artificial intelligence by allowing computers to uncover associations and connections within millions of data points.

  • Wallace Broecker receives the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth and Environmental Science for developing models of how the ocean circulates, how ocean affects climate change and how climate has changed throughout history.

  • Takeo Kanade receives the Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science in honor of a lifetime of ground-breaking contributions to robotics, which have contributed to numerous real-world applications including robotic vision, fully-realized 3-D virtual worlds from 2-D images and medical technology.

  • Deborah Jin receives the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics for pioneering a brand new field of study in physics and creating the first coherent gas of ultra-cold fermionic atoms.

  • Victor Ambros, Gary Ruvkun and David Baulcombe receive the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science for discovering the process of gene silencing.

  • Arun Phadke and James Thorp receive the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering for their contributions to microprocessor controllers in electric power systems that have significantly decreased the occurrence and duration of power blackouts.

  • Frederick Smith receives the Bower Award for Business Leadership for conceiving and establishing the concept of guaranteed overnight delivery, and founding FedEx.

  • Albert Eschenmoser receives the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry for his lifetime of research into the structures of a cell's nucleic acids, leading to the understanding of why RNA and DNA have the structure they do.

Beginning Tuesday, April 15th, students and adults, visitors and members of the community are all invited into The Franklin Institute to participate in this celebration of science:

Tuesday, April 15

10AM-11:30 AM- Laureates Laboratory in Planetarium Hallway.
The Franklin Institute Awards laureates will be on hand to present interactive demonstrations that illustrate the specific concepts behind their work. Free and open to middle school, high school and college students as well as to the general public. The event this year will feature the Carnegie Mellon University DARPA Urban Challenge winning robotic car.

1:00 PM-3:30 PM Meet the Scientists in Franklin Theater
This lively discussion and Q & A is geared toward students and will be moderated by members of PACTS, (Partnerships for Achieving Careers in Technology and Science), the 15 year old program for middle and high school students in Philadelphia. For students-by invitation only.

7:00 PM 9:00 PM The Ocean and Earths Climate: Past, Present & Future, in Franklin Theater

A panel discussion featuring Dr. Wallace Broecker, recipient of the 2008 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth and Environmental Science, moderated by NPRs Dr. Joe Palca. Other participating panelists include Dr. D. James Baker/Global Carbon Measurement Program, The William J. Clinton Foundation; Dr. John Byrne/Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, University of Delaware; Dr. Nancy M. Targett/College of Marine and Earth Studies, University of Delaware. Free and open to public but registration is required: 215.448.2364 or via email: Sponsored by The Franklin Institute.

On Wednesday and Thursday, April 16th & 17th, each laureate will take part in a seminar or lecture focusing on their area of expertise at various universities throughout the city. All are free and open to the public.

Wednesday, April 16:

8:00 AM-12:30 PM Organic and Bioorganic Chemistry: Challenges-Past, Present and Future at University of Pennsylvania, Chemistry Laboratories Room 102 a symposium honoring 2008 Benjamin Franklin Medalist in Chemistry, Dr. Albert Eschenmoser. Speakers include Dr. Eschenmoser, Professor Scott E. Denmark/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Professor M. Reza Ghadiri/Scripps Research Institute; Professor Erik J. Sorensen/Princeton University. Co-Sponsored by The Franklin Institute, University of Pennsylvania Dept. of Chemistry and AstraZeneca.

9:00 AM-12:30 PM The Biology of Small RNAs at University of Delaware, Roselle Center for the Arts/Gore Recital Hall a symposium honoring and featuring 2008 Benjamin Franklin Medalists in Life Science, Dr. Victor Ambros, Dr. Gary Ruvkun and Dr. David Baulcombe. Co-sponsored by The Franklin Institute, Delaware Biotechnology Institute, iDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence, The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research; Office of the Provost, University of Delaware and College of Agriculture, University of Delaware.

9:00 AM12 Noon Current Topics in Robotics and Computer Vision at University of Pennsylvania, School of Engineering and Applied Science/Berger Auditorium a symposium on Robotics honoring 2008 Bower Award Winner for Achievement in Science, Dr. Takeo Kanade. Speakers include Dr. Kanade, Professor Matthew T. Mason, Carnegie Mellon University, Professor Camillo J. Taylor, University of Pennsylvania. Co-sponsored by The Franklin Institute, the GRASP Laboratory and Dept. of Computer & Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Thursday, April 17:

8:00 AM 1:30 PM The Development of Computer Relaying and Phasor Measurement Technologies at Drexel University/Edmund D. Bossone Research Center Auditorium a symposium honoring 2008 Benjamin Franklin Medalists in Electrical Engineering, Dr. Arun Phadke and Dr. James Thorp.Speakers include Drs. Phadke and Thorp, Mark G. Adamiak, PE/GE Multilin; Stanley H. Horowitz, Consultant & Former Head of System Protection, AEP; Dr. Daniel Karlsson, Gothia Power, AB, Professor Willis F. Long, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Co-sponsored by The Franklin Institute, Drexel University College of Engineering, American Electric Power, GE Multilin, Gothia Power AB, Sweden, PECO and Quanta Services.

9:00 AM-12:30 PM The BCS-BEC Crossover in Cold Atoms at the University of Pennsylvania, Carolyn Lynch Lecture Hall a symposium honoring 2008 Benjamin Franklin Medalist in Physics, Dr. Deborah Jin. Speakers include Dr. Jin, Professor Murray Holland, University of Colorado, Professor Randall Hulet, Rice University, Professor Kathryn Levin, University of Chicago. Co-sponsored by The Franklin Institute and Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania.

10:30 AM 2:30 PM Advances in Probabilistic Reasoning and Causal Inference at the University of Pennsylvania, Institute for Research in Cognitive Science a symposium honoring 2008 Benjamin Franklin Medalist in Computer and Cognitive Science, Dr. Judea Pearl. Speakers include Dr. Pearl, Professor A. Philip Dawid, University of Cambridge, Professor Michael I. Jordan, University of California, Berkeley, Professor Michael Kearns, University of Pennsylvania. Co-Sponsored by The Franklin Institute and the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science & Dept. of Computer and Information Science, University of Pennsylvania.

Friday, April 18:

10:00 AM 12 Noon Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss-and the Myths and Realities of Dieting,at the Patent Library of The Franklin Institute a lecture and book signing by Host of this years Franklin Institute Awards Ceremony, author and senior writer for The New York Times, Gina Kolata.

These special events provide a rare window of opportunity for young people and interested adults to meet and mingle with some of the most brilliant minds in science, business and technology in the world today. The culmination of this exciting week celebrating science is the Awards Ceremony and Dinner, generously presented by Bank of America on Thursday evening, April 17th throughout The Franklin Institute. Awards Week Sponsor and Associate Sponsor of The Franklin Institutes Awards Ceremony and Dinner is Cephalon, Inc. Serving as host for this elegant black-tie event will be author and New York Times senior writer, Gina Kolata.


Contact: Lynda Bramble
The Franklin Institute

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