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Nobel Laureate Ivar Giaever To Deliver Shipley Lectures At Clarkson University

[A photo of Ivar Giaever for newspaper use is available at]

Ivar Giaever, Institute Professor of Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will present two lectures at Clarkson University on Thursday, October 30, and Friday, October 31. The lectures are part of the Shipley Distinguished Lecture Series and are open to the public.giaever

Norwegian-born American Giaever is a pioneer in studying the behavior of organic molecules at solid surfaces and the interaction of cells with surfaces. He received the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with Leo Esaki and Brian D. Josephson for their discoveries regarding tunneling phenomena in solids.

Giaever will speak on “The Nobel Prize and the Future of Science” on Thursday, October 30, at 4:15 p.m. in Room 360 of the Cora and Bayard Clarkson Science Center. A reception will be held at 3:30 p.m. The lecture will offer a look at the future of science, new discoveries, and the role played by the Nobel Prize in scientific inquiry.

He will also present a lecture on “Examining Cells in Tissue Culture Using Electrical Means” on Friday, October 31, at 11 a.m. in Bertrand H. Snell Hall Room 214. The lecture will look at a unique method to quantify the behavior of cells in tissue culture that has been developed in his laboratory over the last decade.

The technique, known as Electric Cell-substrate Impedance Sensing (ECIS), seeks to culture mammalian cells on small gold electrodes. When cells attach and spread on these electrodes, the measured electrical impedance changes because the cells constrain the current flow. By monitoring the impedance of the cell covered electrodes, the morphology and motion of the cells can be inferred in real time.

Since these behaviors, such as spreading and locomotion, involve the coordination of many biochemical reactions, they are extremely sensitive to most external parameters, including temperature, pH, and a myriad of chemical compounds. This broad response to changes in the environment allows this method to serve as a general biosensor. The measurements are easily automated, and the general conditions of the cells can be monitored by a personal computer controlling the necessary instrumentation.

Giaever immigrated to North America in 1954 after receiving a degree in mechanical engineering from the Norwegian Institute of Technology. He worked for the General Electric Company in Canada and the United States as an applied mathematician before he joined the G.E. Research and Development Center in 1958. At the same time he began to study physics at RPI, and earned a doctoral degree in 1964. That same year he became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

From 1958 to 1970, he worked in the fields of thin films, tunneling, and superconductivity. In 1970 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and spent one year in Cambridge, England, studying biophysics. Upon his return he began his current efforts studying the behavior of organic molecules at solid surfaces.

Giaever has been an adjunct professor at the University of California at San Diego and a visiting professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.  In 1988 he became an Institute Professor of Science at RPI and Professor-at-Large at the University of Oslo, positions he currently holds. He is also the co-founder and president of Applied BioPhysics, Inc. based in Troy, N.Y.

Giaever has received a number of distinguished international and national awards, including the Oliver E. Buckley Prize in 1965 from the American Physical Society, the Vladimir K. Zworykin Award in 1974 from the National Academy of Engineering and the Lars Onsager Medal in 2003 from NTNU, Norway.

He is also a recipient of numerous honorary degrees, including an honorary degree from Clarkson in 1985.

Ivar Giaever’s lectures are co-sponsored by Clarkson's Center for Advanced Materials Processing and the School of Arts and Sciences. The Shipley Distinguished Lecture Series was initiated in 1994 through a generous gift from Charles and Lucia Shipley through the Shipley Family Foundation. The purpose of the lecture series is to promote scholarly achievements at Clarkson by providing the opportunity for idea exchange and active learning, as well as exposing undergraduate and graduate students to the most prestigious speakers from all over the world.

For more information about the lectures, please contact Professor Egon Matijević at 315-268-2392.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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