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Renowned Chemical Engineer, University President, Chief Scientist and Entrepreneur To Receive Clarkson University Honorary Degrees In May

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Willard H. Dow Professor Howard Brenner, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson, Lucent Technologies Chief Scientist Arun Netravali, and Thornton-TomasettI Group Inc. Co-Chairman Charles H. Thornton will receive honorary degrees at Clarkson University’s 111th Commencement on Sunday, May 9.

Throughout a distinguished 46-year career, Howard Brenner, Willard H. Dow Professor at MIT, has made important intellectual contributions to the field of chemical engineering.  He is well known for his contributions in low Reynolds number hydrodynamics, a subject that is relevant to nearly every aspect of scientific endeavor.  Brenner has also published extensively on transport in porous media, interfacial phenomena, and a variety of other topics.  In recent years, he has been devoting his energy to developing a rational theory of continuum fluid mechanics that rectifies incorrect assumptions that have been adopted for centuries. Brenner received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Pratt Institute in 1950 and a doctoral degree from New York University in 1957.  He began his academic career at New York University, and later moved to Carnegie-Mellon University. In 1977 he became chairman of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Rochester, and in 1981 he was appointed the Willard H. Dow Professor at MIT. 

Theoretical physicist Shirley Ann Jackson became the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1999. Her career prior to becoming Rensselaer’s president has encompassed senior positions in government, academe, and industry. Jackson was appointed chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by President Bill Clinton, a position she held from 1995-99. From 1991-95, Jackson was a professor of theoretical physics at Rutgers University, where she taught graduate and undergraduate students and conducted research on the electronic and optical properties of two-dimensional systems. Before that, Jackson spent 15 years at the AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J., where she conducted research in theoretical physics, solid state and quantum physics, and optical physics.  She is currently president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society, and is a member of the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange.  She is the recipient of numerous professional awards and distinguished honors. Jackson holds a doctoral degree in theoretical elementary particle physics from M.I.T. (1973) and a bachelor of science degree in physics from M.I.T. (1968).

Lucent Technologies Chief Scientist and former Bell Labs president Arun Netravali is regarded as a pioneer in the field of digital technology and led the research and development of Bell Labs' high definition television (HDTV) effort. During his tenure as the ninth Bell Labs president (1999-2001), Netravali also served as Lucent's chief technology officer and chief network architect.  Under his leadership, Research & Development productivity increased by 40 percent and numerous leading-edge products were introduced in wireless, optical and data communications at record speeds. Netravali has authored more than 170 technical papers, co-authored three books, and holds more than 70 patents. In 2002, Netravali received the U.S. National Medal of Technology, the nation’s highest honor for achievement in technology, at a ceremony at the White House. In 2001, he received the Padma Bhushan Award, India’s third highest civilian honor.  Other awards include the Alexander Graham Bell Medal (1991); an EMMY for the HDTV Grand Alliance (1994); the Frederik Philips Award from the IEEE (2000), and the Kilby Medal from the IEEE (2001). Netravali received his undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, India, and master's and doctorate degrees from Rice University in Houston, Texas, all in electrical engineering.

Charles H. Thornton is chairman of the Thornton-Tomasetti Group Inc., a 500-person organization providing engineering and architectural services, failure analysis, hazard mitigation, and disaster response services.  Thornton has received a number of distinguished honors in his profession, including election to the National Academy of Engineering in 1997, being named an honorary member of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1999, and Engineering News-Record’s Award of Excellence in 2001.  In 2002, he was the recipient of the Hoover Medal for his contributions to the design of major structures worldwide, and for outreach to disadvantaged youths through his involvement with the American Civil Engineers Mentor Program. Another project that Thornton is actively involved with is The Salvadori Center in New York City.  He is the president of this non-profit organization that educates over 2,000 middle school students each year in mathematics and science, by utilizing architectural and engineering principles. Thornton holds a bachelor of science degree from Manhattan College, and master’s and doctoral degrees from New York University. 

Clarkson's Commencement tradition calls for each honorary degree recipient to briefly address the students, their families, and guests about a topic central to their success in life.

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

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