LRSM 50th Anniversary Celebration

On May 4, 2012 the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM) celebrated its 50th Birthday with a memorable event that attracted over 220 attendees from around the world.  The celebratory symposium and dinner combined historical recollections with the current research at the LRSM.

video link 250pxThe central focus of the event was the day-long Symposium (see program below) [ click to view videos of the symposium talks ].  After opening remarks by Arjun Yodh (LRSM Director), Penn Provost, Vince Price, and Penn Vice-Provost, Steve Fluharty, we heard about the birth of the institute from three of our four LRSM founding fathers: Bob Maddin, Bob Hughes and Eli Burstein. Later, we were entertained by stories and memories from former LRSM Directors, including Ward Plummer, Greg Farrington, Don Langenberg, Lou Girifalco, Alan Heeger and Mike Klein, with a special and warming appearance by David White.

Group photo taken at morning break.

Group photo taken at morning break.

The remainder of our guest speakers spoke about science, new and old.  Leaders of the four current MRSEC Interdisciplinary Research Groups (IRGs) described these programs, and a range of venerable faculty and alumni from the last 50 years spoke about their research and experience at the LRSM.  Among other things, we learned more about surface science, biomaterials, quasi-crystals, topological insulators, scanning probe microsopies, carbon-based materials from conducting polymers to buckyballs, glasses, grain boundaries & dislocations, mechanical fatigue, the new nano-building, protein folding, chemical dynamics, nonlinear optics, education & outreach, and much more.  Of course, there wasn’t enough time for talks about all of the first-rank research in the LRSM, so discussions continued during breaks and meals!  The day concluded with a dinner banquet highlighted with talks from the Science Dean at SAS (Richard Schultz) and the Dean of SEAS (Eduardo Glandt), and spontaneous songs and speeches from audience members including our Associate LRSM Director of many years, Andrew McGhie.

On this page you will find more information about the LRSM, the 50th Celebration program, and some images from the event. For the full gallery of images, click here.

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The 50th Anniversary celebration of the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter, LRSM, was proposed to acknowledge the contributions made to the advancement of materials research by the LRSM. The concept of an interdisciplinary materials research laboratory evolved following the launch of Sputnik by the Russians in 1957, when it was determined that the U.S. had fallen behind in the “SpaceRace.”

In 1960, the University of Pennsylvania obtained one of the first grants to foster interdepartmental materials research to rapidly advance knowledge in this important area. Professors Burstein, Physics, Hughes, Chemistry, Maddin, Engineering, and Hixson, Engineering, were the initial Principal Investigators on a grant from the Advanced Research Projects Agency, ARPA, of the Department of Defense, which established the LRSM.

In 1962, a building was designed and built specifically to house the faculty offices and laboratories of several departments and shared central facilities and thus became the first university building in the nation devoted to interdisciplinary materials research. Since 1973 the LRSM has been funded by the National Science Foundation. During the past 50 years of continuous governmental support, many groundbreaking advances have been made at the LRSM including the discovery of conducting polymers; the theory of quasicrystals; and pioneering contributions in soft matter, surface science, nonlinear optics, electronic transport, metallic glasses, polymersomes, dendrimers, synthetic proteins, materials computation, complex oxides and much more.

50th Anniversary Symposium Itinerary

Friday, May 4, 2012
8:00 am Registration and breakfast  (Reading Room, LRSM)
9:00 am Welcome (Auditorium , LRSM)
  Arjun G.Yodh, Director,  LRSM, University of Pennsylvania
  Vincent Price, Provost, University of Pennsylvania
  Steven J. Fluharty, Senior Vice Provost for Research, University of Pennsylvania
9:20 am Birth of the LRSM (Original PIs)
  Elias Burstein, Physics, Professor Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania
  Robert Maddin, Materials Science & Engineering, Professor Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania  
  Robert E. Hughes, Chemistry, Professor Emeritus, Cornell University
9:35 am IRG 2 – Biologically-inspired Janus-dendrimer Assemblies
  Daniel Hammer, Bioengineering & Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  Virgil Percec, Chemistry
9:50 am IRG 1 – Geometric Routes to Soft Assembly and Dynamics
  Randall Kamien, Physics and Astronomy
  Kathleen Stebe, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
10:05 am Break– Coffee in Reading Room, Group Photo at Entrance to LRSM
10:35 am Former Directors’ Forum
  E. Ward Plummer, Louisiana State University
  Gregory  C. Farrington, Executive Director, California Academy of Sciences
  David White, Professor of Chemistry
  Donald N. Langenberg, University of Maryland
  Louis A. Girifalco, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
  + contributions from
  Alan J. Heeger, UC, Santa Barbara
  Michael L. Klein, Temple University
11:15 am  IRG 3 – Mechanical Failure of Disordered Packings
  Robert Carpick, Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, and
Andrea Liu, Physics and Astronomy
11:30 am IRG 4 – Controlled Function in Inter-dimensional Materials
  Cherie Kagan, Electrical and Systems  Engineering
Jay Kikkawa, Physics and Astronomy
11:45 am Outreach
  Andrew R. McGhie, Associate Director, LRSM
11:50 am Topological Insulators
  Charles Kane, Professor, Physics and Astronomy
12:15 pm Lunch (Reading Room)
1:30 pm Materials Science and Engineering at the LRSM
  Peter K. Davies, Professor and Chair, Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)
  Dawn A. Bonnell, Professor, MSE, and Director, Nano / Bio Interface Center
  Charles McMahon, Professor Emeritus, MSE
  Vaclav Vitek, Professor, MSE
2:00 pm Materials Chemistry and Chemical Dynamics
  Robin M. Hochstrasser, Professor, Chemistry
  William A. Eaton, National Institutes of Health
  Angus Bain, University College London, UK
2:30 pm Biomaterials
  Dennis E. Discher, Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
2:45 pm Carbon-based Materials
  Karen I. Winey, Professor, Materials Science and Engineering
3:00 pm Break
3:30 pm Materials Physics
  Yung Woo Park, Seoul National University (Conducting Polymers)
  Paul A. Chaikin, New York University
  Tom C. Lubensky, Professor of Physics and Astronomy  (Soft Matter)
  Paul J. Steinhardt, Princeton University (Quasicrystals)
4:30 pm General Session (Open)
  Kenneth Singer, Case Western Reserve University
  Cristian Staii, Physics and Astronomy, Tufts University
  Miroslav Hodak, North Carolina State University
  + Contributions from the audience
5:30 pm End of Symposium
6:00 pm Reception, Hall of Flags, Houston Hall
7:00 pm Dinner,  Hall of Flags, Houston Hall
  After dinner Speakers
  Richard Schultz, Associate Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences
  Eduardo D. Glandt, Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Science
  And contributions from the audience
9:30 pm End