Public forum with Stibitz and Wilson honorees
- Friday, December 1, 2017 from 7:00pm to 10:00pm
- Strand Union Building, Ballrooms - view map
A leader in gene-editing technology, experts in quantum computing, a filmmaker and a veteran technology writer will be honored at the annual George R. Stibitz and E.O. Wilson awards, to be held Dec. 1 at Montana State University.
A free public forum with the honorees will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 1 in the Strand Union Building’s ballrooms. The theme of the forum is “Technology, Humanity and Nature: Possible Futures.”
The awards are given by the American Computer and Robotics Museum and were established by the museum’s director, George Keremedjiev, who founded the museum in Bozeman in 1990 and received an honorary doctorate from MSU in 2009.
The Stibitz Computer and Communications Pioneer Award, first presented in 1997, is named in honor of the man who helped develop the first modern digital computer. The Wilson Biodiversity Technology Pioneer Award, named for famed biologist E.O. Wilson, was first presented in 2009.
This year, a Stibitz and Wilson award will both go to Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley. Doudna was fundamental to the development of CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology, which has the potential to open up numerous avenues for treating diseases and for which she won wide acclaim in the world of science. In 2015, she was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people, and she won a Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences in 2015, an award funded by a group of internet industry giants.
Four others will also receive Stibitz awards this year. They are:
- Michelle Simmons, Scientia Professor of Quantum Physics at the University of New South Wales in Australia. She is a laureate fellow with the Australian Research Council and is recognized around the world as a pioneer in atomic electronics and quantum computing.
- Mark Ritter, Jay M. Gambetta and Jerry M. Chow, quantum computing pioneers at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center. Ritter, a 1981 MSU graduate, manages groups focused on experimental quantum and neuromorphic computing and will represent the group at the ceremony.
- Rufus Cone, distinguished professor in the Department of Physics in MSU’s College of Letters and Science. Cone’s research deals with high-speed, high-capacity memory for light, which is crucial to the development of other quantum computing efforts. He also played a role in establishing the optical technology industry in the Gallatin Valley.
- Jonathan Titus, a pioneer of personal computers and author. In 1974, Titus invented the Mark-8 home computer kit and published the instructions, a watershed moment in the PC revolution. He has spent decades as an author and technical writer. A prior Stibitz winner, Titus will receive a lifetime achievement award this year.
The Wilson award also will be given to award-winning author and documentary filmmaker John Heminway of Bozeman. Through his more than 100 films over four decades, Heminway has drawn attention to science, nature, history and threats to Africa. He has won multiple Emmys and Peabody Awards, and one of his films, focusing on the African ivory trade, was honored at a special United Nations ceremony. Heminway received an honorary doctorate from MSU in 2016.