RICHARDSON, Texas (Jan. 9, 2006) — Nobel laureate and University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) Professor Alan G. MacDiarmid, no stranger to recognition for his scientific achievements, this spring will receive additional accolades – an award from his native New Zealand and an honorary degree from a leading university in the United States.
On March 1, MacDiarmid will attend a black tie dinner in Auckland to receive the prestigious Supreme Award of the World Class New Zealand Awards for 2006 – the highest recognition accorded New Zealanders who make a significant contribution to that country’s economic development. MacDiarmid was selected from nearly 100 nominees by a panel of judges who represent both New Zealand industry and the country’s expatriate business community.
MacDiarmid called the award “a high honour,” and proclaimed himself “still very much a ‘Kiwi,’” a reference to the flightless bird that serves as the national symbol of New Zealand and its people. “Spending many years in another country does not in any way get New Zealand out of my blood,” MacDiarmid said in a letter to the chairman of the awards panel.
MacDiarmid also expressed an interest in assisting in the development of bio-alcohol and bio-diesel fuels from crops in order to make his native country less dependent on petroleum, gas and coal. “I strongly believe we have a vast new, as yet untapped, frontier for New Zealand involving conversion of the cellulose content of saw dust, wood and plant waste to bio-fuels,” he said.
MacDiarmid has strong family ties to New Zealand, including three siblings and a number of other relatives who live there, and travels to the South Pacific nation frequently.
On May 12, MacDiarmid plans to travel to Madison, Wisconsin, to receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, his alma mater. The degree is being bestowed on MacDiarmid in recognition of his distinguished accomplishments, according to University Chancellor John D. Wiley, and was “enthusiastically approved by the faculty senate and the board of regents.”
MacDiarmid received an M.S. degree in 1952 and a Ph.D. degree in 1953 from Wisconsin, where he was a Fulbright Scholar.
MacDiarmid shared the 2000 Nobel Prize in chemistry with Alan Heeger and Hideki Shirakawa for their discoveries that plastics can be made electrically conductive, thus creating the field of conducting polymers, also known as “synthetic metals.” Some of the practical applications of his research include rechargeable batteries, gas sensors and light-emitting devices. In recent years, MacDiarmid has pioneered research in the field of nanoelectronics.
MacDiarmid joined UTD in 2001as a distinguished scholar in residence, senior adviser on science and technology to then-UTD President Franklyn Jenifer and chairman of the advisory board of the UTD NanoTech Institute. A year later, he joined the university’s faculty full-time as the James Von Ehr Distinguished Chair in Science and Technology and professor of chemistry and physics. He also heads the Alan G. MacDiarmid Center for Innovation located at UTD.
MacDiarmid is the author or co-author of some 600 research papers and holds 20 patents. He has received numerous awards, medals and honorary degrees for his scientific achievements, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls nearly 14,500 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s website at www.utdallas.edu.