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School of Mathematics & Science
Michelson Lecture photo

Michelson Memorial Lecture Series

Sponsored by the United States Naval Academy Class of 1969

The Michelson Memorial Lecture Series commemorates the achievements of Albert A. Michelson, whose experiments on the measurement of the speed of light were initiated while he was a military instructor at the U. S. Naval Academy. These studies not only advanced the science of physics but resulted in his selection as the first Nobel Laureate in science from the United States.

Each year since 1981, a distinguished scientist has come to the Naval Academy to present the Michelson Lecture. These scientists have represented a variety of scientific disciplines, including chemistry, physics, mathematics, oceanography, and computer science.

Complete List of Distinguished Speakers

Sponsoring Department Color Codes
Chemistry Computer Science Mathematics Oceanography Physics

Year Speaker
Dr. Jeannette Wing 
Executive Vice President for Research, Columbia University
"Trustworthy AI"
2021 Dr. Marcia McNutt
President, National Academy of Sciences 
"Applications of Science and Technology for Strategic Advantage"
Nobel Laureate in Physics
"Probing the Warped Side of the Universe with Gravitational Waves: From the Big Bang to Black Holes"
2016 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 
"Engines Through the Ages"
Fields Medalist, Department of Mathematics, UCLA;
"The Cosmic Distance Ladder"
Tisch University Professor, Department of Computer Science at Cornell University
"Social Phenomena in Global Networks: Bursts, Cascades and Hot Spots"
Director, Program for the Human Environment at The Rockefeller University

Dr. Adam Riess
Nobel Laureate 2011
"Supernovae Reveal An Accelerating Universe"                    


Dr. Ada Yonath
2009 Nobel Laureate In Chemistry
"A Prebiotic RNA Apparatus Functions Within the Contemporary Ribosome"

2012 Dr. Peter Diamond
2010 Nobel Laureate in Economics
"Abstract for talk"
2011 Dr. Bernd Sturmfels
Prof of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, U of California, Berkeley
"Tropical Mathematics"
2010 Dr. Eric J. Barron 
President Florida State University 
"Beyond Climate Science"
2009 Professor Christos Papadimitriou 
Hogan Professor of Computer Science at UC Berkeley
"The Algorithmic Lens: How the Computational Perspective is Transforming the Sciences" 
see poster
2008 Professor James Gates 
Director for the Center for String and Particle Theory at the University of Maryland
"SUSY and the Lord of the Ring: Supersymmetry Theory"
2007 Sir Harold W. Kroto
1996 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
"Architecture in Nanospace"
"see poster"
2006 Dr. James J. Heckman
2000 Nobel Laureate in Economics
"Skills, Schools and Synapses"
2005 Dr. Jeffrey Weeks
Freelance Mathematician
"The Shape of Space"
2004 Dr. Howard Bluestein 

"Mobile Doppler Radar Observations of Tornadoes"
2003 Professor William D. Phillips 
1997 Nobel Laureate in Physics; NIST and University of Maryland
"Time, Einstein, and the Coolest Stuff in the Universe"
2002 Dr. F. Sherwood Rowland Nobel Laureate
Donald Bren Research Professor of Chemistry, University of California, Irvine.  "The 21st Century Atmosphere: Changes and Consequences"
2001 Dr. David Donoho
Stanford University
"Data! Data! Data! Challenges and Opportunities of the Coming Data Deluge" ( download, pdf format)
2000 Dr. Vinton G. Cerf
Senior Vice President of Internet Architecture and Technology
1999 Dr. Sylvia Earl, Deep Ocean Explorer, 1998-2002 National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, 
and Chairman, DOER Marine Operations, Inc.
1998 Dr. Leon N. Cooper,  Nobel Laureate
Thomas J. Watson, Sr. Professor of Science, Brown University Department of Physics 
and Director, Institute for Brain and Neural Systems
1997 Dr. Dudley R. Herschbach,  Nobel Laureate
Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science, Harvard University
1996 Dr. Aaron Hauptman,  Nobel Laureate 
Hauptman-Woodward Research Foundation
1995 Dr. Arnold Penzias,  Nobel Laureate
Bell Laboratories
1994 Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan
NOAA Chief Scientist and Astronaut
1993 Dr. Richard E. Smalley,  Nobel Laureate
Rice University
1992 Dr. Michael F. Shlesinger
Director of Physics, Office of Naval Research
1991 Dr. John H. Conway
Princeton University
1990 Dr. Richard Hamming
Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California
1989 Dr. Robert Ballard
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
1988 Dr. Stirling A. Colgate
Los Alamos
1987 Dr. James A. Watson,  Nobel Laureate 
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
1986 Dr. Ronald L. Graham
Bell Laboratories
1985 Admiral Grace Hopper
United States Navy
1984 Honorable James M. Beggs
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
1983 Dr. Arthur L. Schawlow,  Nobel Laureate
Stanford University
1982 Dr. Charles H. Townes,  Nobel Laureate
University of California at Berkeley
1981 Dr. Herbert C. BrownNobel Laureate
Purdue University

More on the History of the Michelson Lecture Series

Sponsored by the United States Naval Academy Class of 1969

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