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* Lincoln Hawkins ’32

Lincoln Hawkins ’32 Graduate Students Conference April 16

Members of the campus community and alumni are invited to attend the Walter Lincoln Hawkins ’32 Graduate Students Conference that will be held on Saturday, April 16, in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies auditorium from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. More than a dozen Rensselaer students will participate in the conference that will feature theoretical, computational, experimental, or project-based works related to oncology, food safety, and solar strategies for water reuse.

During the event, several undergraduate and graduate students will showcase posters highlighting a range of research topics in areas including biomedical engineering; mechanical engineering; architecture science and ecology; management; and electrical, computer, and systems engineering. The program also will feature five oral presentations that will be delivered by graduate students.

Founded nine years ago, by Alan Bivens ’03 and Joel Branch ’07, the conference provides underrepresented minorities at Rensselaer with a forum to develop their professional communications skills by presenting their research, projects, and demonstrations to peers, faculty, and industry. The last conference was held in 2005.

This year, chemical engineering graduate students Priscilla Paul and Silo Meoto — who also serve as co-presidents for the Minority Graduate Student Association — worked with the Office of Graduate Education and Shayla Sawyer, assistant professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering, to re-launch the conference.

“As students, we believe that participating in conferences like this can open up networking opportunities among students, faculty, and industry professionals,” said Paul. “Since these groups may be at various stages of their careers, this event is one way that individuals can make connections and get advice related to academic interests, research focus, and professional development.”

The conference pays homage to Walter Lincoln Hawkins ’32, renowned noted chemist, inventor, and advocate. Pioneering investigator of factors limiting the life of plastics, Hawkins was co-inventor at Bell Laboratories of an anti-oxidant additive that made possible inexpensive plastic insulation of telephone cables. This new material saved telephone and power companies billions of dollars and made universal telephone service economical, revolutionizing the communications industry. He was granted 147 patents related to the development of environmentally advanced materials for communications equipment.

In addition, he was the first African-American scientist at AT&T Bell Labs and the first African-American member of the National Academy of Engineering. President Bush awarded Hawkins the National Medal of Technology in 1992, just two months before his death.

For more information regarding the conference, visit

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 6, April 1, 2011
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