Science & Engineering

Offiicial posts appearing in the future will include these 18 Nobel Laureates, as well as 15+ more scientists and engineers.



1944 - Joseph Erlanger - Physiology or Medicine
With Herbert S. Gasser

For their discoveries relating to the highly differentiated functions of single nerve fibres

Our bodily functions are governed by our nervous system, which consists of many nerve cells with extensions, or nerve fibers, that form a system of connections between the brain and spinal cord and the rest of the body. Signals in the nervous system are conveyed by weak electrical currents and by chemical substances. During the 1920s Joseph Erlanger and Herbert Gasser studied the properties and distribution of nerve fibers. They divided nerve fibers into two different types with different thicknesses and showed that the thicker fibers convey nerve impulses faster.

Faculty at UW-Madison



1944 - Herbert S. Gasser - Physiology or Medicine
With Joseph Erlanger

For their discoveries relating to the highly differentiated functions of single nerve fibres

Our bodily functions are governed by our nervous system, which consists of many nerve cells with extensions, or nerve fibers, that form a system of connections between the brain and spinal cord and the rest of the body. Signals in the nervous system are conveyed by weak electrical currents and by chemical substances. During the 1920s Joseph Erlanger and Herbert Gasser studied the properties and distribution of nerve fibers. They divided nerve fibers into two different types with different thicknesses and showed that the thicker fibers convey nerve impulses faster

B.S. Degree from UW-Madison and Faculty at UW-Madison



1956 - John Bardeen - Physics
With William B. Shockley and Walter H. Brattain

For their researches on semiconductors and their discovery of the transistor effect

When certain metals are cooled to extremely low temperatures, they become superconductors, conducting electrical current entirely without resistance. Based on quantum mechanics, John Bardeen, Leon Cooper, and Robert Schrieffer formulated a theory for the phenomenon in 1957. At extremely low temperatures, the interaction between electrons and atoms in the metals' crystalline structure causes the electrons to pair up with one another. As a result, their movement becomes orderly, unlike the random movement at normal temperatures, and electrical resistance disappears.

Born in Madison, WI; B.S. and M.S. Degree from UW-Madison



1958 - Joshua Lederberg - Physiology or Medicine
With George Beadle and Edward Tatum

For his discoveries concerning genetic recombination and the organization of the genetic material of bacteria

It was long thought that bacteria multiply by dividing, so that all bacteria have the same genetic make-up. Joshua Lederberg and Edward Tatum demonstrated in 1946 that bacteria's genes can also change in a way similar to that of sexual reproduction seen in more complex organisms. Bacteria can go through a phase in which two bacteria exchange genetic material with one another by passing pieces of DNA across a bridge-like connection. Joshua Lederberg also proved the phenomenon known as transduction, in which DNA is transferred between bacteria via bacteriophages.

Faculty at UW-Madison



1963 - Eugene Wigner - Physics
With Maria Goeppert Mayer and J. Hans D. Jensen

For his contributions to the theory of the atomic nucleus and the elementary particles, particularly through the discovery and application of fundamental symmetry principles

After the discovery of the neutron, it became evident that the atomic nucleus is made up of nucleons - protons and neutrons - that are affected by a cohesive force. In 1933 Eugene Wigner discovered that the force binding the nucleons together is very weak when the distance between them is great, but very strong when the nucleons are close to one another as in the atomic nucleus. Eugene Wigner also described several characteristics of the nucleons and the nuclear force, including the fact that the force between two nucleons is the same, regardless of whether they are protons or neutrons.

Researcher and Honorary Doctorate from UW-Madison



1968 - H. Gobind Khorana - Physiology or Medicine
With Robert W. Holley and Marshall W. Nirenberg

For their interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis

In the 1950s, it was established that genetic information is transferred from DNA to RNA, to protein. One sequence of three nucleotides in DNA corresponds to a certain amino acid within a protein. How could this genetic code be cracked? After Marshall Nirenberg discovered the first piece of the puzzle, the remainder of the code was gradually revealed in the years that followed. Har Gobind Khorana made important contributions to this field by building different RNA chains with the help of enzymes. Using these enzymes, he was able to produce proteins. The amino acid sequences of these proteins then solved the rest of the puzzle.

Researcher at UW-Madison



1972 - Stanford Moore - Chemistry
With Christian Anfinsen and William H. Stein

For their contribution to the understanding of the connection between chemical structure and catalytic activity of the active centre of the ribonuclease molecule

The genetic information of an organism is stored in DNA molecules which, via RNA molecules, are converted during the formation of proteins. The chemical processes inside cells are controlled by a type of protein called enzymes. Stanford Moore and William Stein studied the enzyme ribonuclease, which divides RNA into smaller components. In the late 1950s, the pair succeeded in providing a detailed understanding of the enzyme's active center and in elucidating the connection between the structure of the molecule and its ability to speed up biochemical reactions.

Ph.D. from UW-Madison



1972 - John Bardeen - Physics
With Leon N. Cooper and Robert Schrieffe

For their jointly developed theory of superconductivity, usually called the BCS-theory

When certain metals are cooled to extremely low temperatures, they become superconductors, conducting electrical current entirely without resistance. Based on quantum mechanics, John Bardeen, Leon Cooper, and Robert Schrieffer formulated a theory for the phenomenon in 1957. At extremely low temperatures, the interaction between electrons and atoms in the metals' crystalline structure causes the electrons to pair up with one another. As a result, their movement becomes orderly, unlike the random movement at normal temperatures, and electrical resistance disappears.

Born in Madison, WI; Undergraduate and Masters Degree from UW-Madison



1975 - Edward M. Tatum - Physiology or Medicine
With David Baltimore and Renato Dulbecco

For their discoveries concerning the interaction between tumour viruses and the genetic material of the cell

After Renato Dulbecco discovered that tumor viruses operate by incorporating their DNA into the DNA of host cells, Howard Temin, and David Baltimore - independently of one another - discovered that viruses with genomes consisting of RNA can also be inserted into host cells' DNA. This takes place through an enzyme known as "reverse transcriptase". The discovery that the information in RNA can be transferred to DNA meant that the generally accepted rule that genetic information was only transferred in one direction - from DNA to RNA, to protein - had to be modified.

PhD from UW-Madison



1977 - John H. Van Vleck - Physics
With Philip W. Anderson and Sir Nevill F. Mott

For their fundamental theoretical investigations of the electronic structure of magnetic and disordered systems

The electrical and magnetic properties of different materials are determined by how the electrons move about in relation to the atomic nucleus. When an atom from a foreign substance is inserted into a crystalline structure, the crystal's properties can be altered. During the 1930s John van Vleck developed theories about how electrical fields in a crystal affect a foreign atom and how such an atom can be bound to nearby atoms through its electrons. He also showed how the interaction between the electron's movements can create local magnetic moments in crystals.

B.S. from UW-Madison; Faculty at UW-Madison



1991 - Erwin Neher - Medicine
With Bert Sakmann

For their discoveries concerning the function of single ion channels in cells

One of the fundamental processes of life is the transit of charged atoms - ions - through the surface layer of cells that make up organisms. Among other things, this transit is of crucial importance for the transfer of signals in nerves and muscles so that the body functions. Around 1980 Erwin Neher and Bert Sakmann developed a method for measuring the extremely weak currents involved in ion transits. These results confirmed that the transit occurs through ion channels - molecules on the surface of cells that under certain conditions allow ions to pass through.

M.S. from UW-Madison



1997 - Paul D. Boyer - Chemistry
With John E. Walker and Jens C. Skou

For their elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)

All life requires energy. In both plants and animals, energy is stored and transported by a special molecule, adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Photosynthesis and respiration generate a flow of hydrogen ions, which are used to build up ATP molecules with the help of ATP synthase, an enzyme that facilitates the process without being incorporated in the final product. In 1974 Paul Boyer presented a theory explaining how ATP synthase works. The theory was substantiated in 1994 when John Walker used X-ray crystallography to determine the structure of ATP synthase.

Ph.D. from UW-Madison



1999 - Guenter Blobel - Medicine

For the discovery that proteins have intrinsic signals that govern their transport and localization in the cell

Proteins, molecules composed of chains of amino acids, play a crucial role in life processes in our cells. Proteins are continuously being transported through membranes or walls that both separate the cell from its surroundings and separate the inner parts of the cell, the organelles. In 1975 G├╝nter Blobel showed that in certain cases amino acids in a protein serve as an address label that determines where a protein is to be delivered. Amino acid sequences determine whether a protein is to be passed through the membrane out of the cell or into an organelle or is to be built in the membrane.

Ph.D. from UW-Madison



2000 - Alan MacDiarmid - Chemistry
With Alan Heeger and Hideki Shirakawa

For the discovery and development of conductive polymers

Plastic material is composed of polymers - very large molecules that take the form of long chains of smaller molecules. Plastic usually does not conduct electricity, but at the end of the 1970s Alan MacDiarmid, Alan Heeger, and Hideki Shirakawa demonstrated that it is possible to produce conductive polymers. This requires alternating single and double bonds between carbon atoms in the chain and doping the polymers through the addition of suitable atoms so that free electrons or holes appear after the electrons. Conductive polymers can be used in electronics and other applications.

Ms.C. from UW-Madison



2000 - Jack S. Kilby - Physics
With Zhores Alferov and Herbert Kroemer

For his part in the invention of the integrated circuit

The discovery of the small electronic component, the transistor, created new opportunities to amplify and control electrical signals. New materials were used and transistors gradually became smaller. Independently of one another, in 1959 Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce showed that many transistors, resistors, and capacitors could be grouped on a single board of semiconductor material. The integrated circuit, or microchip, came to be a vital component in computers and other electronic equipment.

Student and Honorary Doctorate from UW-Madison



2007 - Oliver Smithies - Physiology or Medicine
With Mario R. Capecchi and Sir Martin J. Evans

For their discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells

The discovery of the small electronic component, the transistor, created new opportunities to amplify and control electrical signals. New materials were used and transistors gradually became smaller. Independently of one another, in 1959 Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce showed that many transistors, resistors, and capacitors could be grouped on a single board of semiconductor material. The integrated circuit, or microchip, came to be a vital component in computers and other electronic equipment.

Faculty at UW-Madison



2015 - William C. Campbell - Physiology or Medicine
With Satoshi Ōmura and Youyou Tu

For their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites

A number of serious infectious diseases are caused by parasites spread by insects. River blindness is caused by a tiny worm that can infect the cornea and cause blindness. Lymphatic filariasis, or elephantiasis, is also caused by a worm and produces chronic swelling. Satoshi Omura cultured bacteria, which produce substances that inhibit the growth of other microorganisms. In 1978 he succeeded in culturing a strain from which William Campbell purified a substance, avermectin, which in a chemically modified form, ivermectin, proved effective against river blindness and elephantiasis.

Ph.D. from UW-Madison



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