Nobel Laureate Visits GPC

Contact: Rebecca Rakoczy
Phone: 678-891-2691
Fax: 678-891-2966
Author: Rebecca Rakoczy


Georgia Perimeter College Hosts Nobel Laureate Scientist Sir Harry Kroto

Nobel laureate and chemistry professor Sir Harry Kroto visited Georgia Perimeter College’s Decatur Campus Feb. 22, to give a lecture on the value of science to society and its application to our everyday world.

A passionate advocate for science education for young people, Kroto was one of three chemists to receive the Nobel Prize in 1996, for their discovery of the carbon molecule known as a fullerene. Because of its uniquely identifiable shape, the molecule was named “buckminsterfullerene” after architect Buckminster Fuller, whose geodesic dome the carbon structure resembles. Kroto shared his Nobel prize award with fellow chemists Robert Curl, Jr. and Richard Smalley.

The discovery has opened up doors for the advancement of nanotechnology, materials science and electronics.

Sprinkling his talk with lively slides, video, quotations and personal commentary, Kroto urged his audience to understand the value of science to their everyday lives—from how their cell phones work to the chemical makeup of the paint on the walls. He also warned that today’s society has somewhat of a “disconnect with technology,” often taking its everyday interaction with technology for granted.

“In my day, I knew everything about how a camera worked. Today we don’t question what’s going on inside that camera,” he said. Kroto spoke about the evolution of scientific thought and the importance of scientific education for the general population as a means to prevent a second Dark Ages, where inquiry was replaced by dogma.

GPC Online astronomy professor Ulrike LaHaise was fascinated by the implications of Kroto’s discovery to the world as we know it. “I was happy to an influential Nobel Prize Winner take such an active and passionate role in educating and inspiring the next generation of young people to become independent and critical thinkers,” LaHaise said. “I admire that he uses his clout in the scientific and public arena to reach out and mentor people from all walks of life and volunteers his time to light the fire of science in even the youngest school children. “

Kroto’s talk was sponsored by Dr. Pamela Leggett-Robinson, department chair of science on the Decatur Campus, and the primary investigator for the GPC Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics Talent Expansion program.

Kroto currently is the Francis Eppes Professor for Chemistry and Biochemistry at Florida State University.

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Georgia Perimeter College, the third largest institution of the University System of Georgia, serves approximately 27,000 students through four campuses and several sites in metro Atlanta. For additional information, visit