10/16/09

Nobel Notes


While many of the bronze replica Nobel Prizes are on display, only a few universities have the honor of displaying a gold Nobel Prize Medal. Carnegie Mellon is one of them.

Through a generous bequest from the late Professor John A. Pople, the medal he received for winning the 1998 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was presented to the university by Pople’s children.

A former professor, Pople was affiliated with Carnegie Mellon and the Mellon Institute for more than 30 years. Pople developed the computational methods that made the theoretical study of molecules possible at a time when people were just beginning to use computers to solve complex scientific problems.

The program Pople developed – called GAUSSIAN – was first published in 1970 and is still used today to study molecules.

And the Nobel Prize accolades don’t end there.

Oliver Eaton Williamson (TPR’63) shares this year’s Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. While earning his Ph.D. in economics at Carnegie Mellon, Williamson conducted research under the instruction of several academic pioneers, who were revolutionizing the principles of accepted economic theory in the 1960s.

Ada Yonath, a post-doctoral fellow at the Mellon Institute in 1969, was named one of three winners of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Yonath was able to generate X-ray crystallographic images of the ribosome structure as early as the 1970s – a task the Nobel committee had then considered “impossible.”

Williamson and Yonath join 16 other Nobel Prize winners with ties to Carnegie Mellon. Check out “Commentary: Nobel award recognizes U.S. dominance” by Carnegie Mellon Professor Kiron Skinner on CNN.

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