In Depth: George Whitesides
George M. Whitesides is a professor of chemistry at Harvard University. Whitesides’s scientific contributions come from such diverse areas as nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), materials and surface science, microfluidics and nanotechnology.
He is best known for his insights into surface chemistry, understanding how molecules arrange themselves on a surface. The discovery laid the groundwork for advances in nanoscience that led to new technologies in electronics, pharmaceutical science and medical diagnostics. His recent research interests include energy, the origin of life, and science for developing economics.
Whitesides is the author of more than 950 research papers and holds over 50 patents. He has mentored more than 300 scientists who now hold influential positions in academia, industry, and government. Whitesides is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious National Medal of Science (1998) and Priestley Medal (2007). Beyond his scientific research, Whitesides is also active in public service. He has participated in many evaluations addressing issues related to science and technology around the world.
Native of Kentucky, Whitesides earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard in 1960 and a Ph.D. from the Caltech in 1964. He was a faculty member at the MIT from 1963 to 1982 and then at Harvard since 1982. He is the Woodford L. & Ann A. Flowers University Professor and a Director of Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology at Harvard University.
In this special interview, Professor Whitesides discusses nanoscience. He describes how nanoscience may change our society forever, as well as the way we think about the small scale. He also points out several observations about our current technologies and where nano-technologies may lead us.