Rensselaer in Brief

Gwo-Ching Wang, professor and head of the Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has been appointed the Travelstead Institute Chair. This endowed chair was established with a gift from G. Ware Travelstead ’60.

Wang joined the Rensselaer faculty in 1984 and has been head of the Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy since 2000. Prior to joining Rensselaer, she was a physicist in the Electron Physics Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and in the Surface Physics Group in the Solid State Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Wang has contributed in the development of the theory and practice of electron diffraction techniques to study the growth of materials, including novel nanomaterials. She has written more than 220 articles and published two books on her research.

Gregory R. Wiseman ’97 was named among the newest class of NASA astronauts.

Wiseman, who earned his bachelor’s degree in computers and systems engineering from RPI, was selected from 3,500 applicants to enter NASA’s 2009 astronaut candidate class. The new class of nine men and women will begin training in August at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

In addition to flying in space and performing engineering and scientific research aboard the International Space Station, astronauts participate in every aspect of human spaceflight, sharing their expertise with engineers and managers across the country.

Wiseman, department head of Strike Fighter Squadron 103 aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, said he had an interest in flight and space from a very young age. Watching space shuttle launches on television and seeing the Blue Angels perform every spring inspired him to pursue a career as a pilot.

Robert J. Linhardt, the Ann and John H. Broadbent Jr. ’59 Senior Constellation Professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering at Rensselaer, has been named one of the Scientific American 10. Linhardt is featured in the June 2009 edition of the popular science and technology magazine for his lifesaving work with the commonly used blood thinner heparin alongside nine other global innovators including philanthropist and business leader Bill Gates and President Barack Obama.

The 10 people recognized by Scientific American were noted for their “demonstrated outstanding commitment to assuring that the benefits of new technologies and knowledge will accrue to humanity.”

Linhardt, who is among the world’s foremost experts on heparin, has helped make the currently available heparin safer for patients and is leading the effort to create a safer, fully synthetic alternative to the current heparin, which is harvested from the intestines of mostly foreign livestock.