Tribute to Dr. Richard E. Smalley - US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson
109th Congress 1st Session S. RES.
Mr. President, I rise today to pay tribute to Dr. Richard Errett Smalley of Rice University.
On October 28, 2005, Texas and America lost a brilliant mind, a great American and a dear friend, Richard Smalley.
Early in his life Dr. Smalley developed a love for science as he collected single-cell organisms with his mother at a local pond and studied them with a microscope.
He took this love of science with him to the University of Michigan where he graduated in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.
After working at a Shell Chemical Company manufacturing plant in New Jersey for four years, Dr. Smalley continued his education at Princeton University, graduating with an M.S. in 1971 and his Ph.D. in 1973.
He moved his family to Chicago to begin a postdoctoral period with Donald H. Levy at the University of Chicago.
While there, Dr. Smalley’s work began to elevate when he pioneered what has become one of the most powerful techniques in chemical physics, supersonic beam laser spectroscopy.
In 1976, Dr. Smalley joined the Department of Chemistry at Rice University as an assistant professor, where he, along with his colleague Dr. Robert F. Curl and British chemist Sir Harold Kroto, discovered a new class of carbon molecules called the fullerene, or “buckyballs.”
This discovery led to the team’s 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and spurred the development of nanotechnology as a revolutionary area of science capable of solving global problems in fields ranging from medicine to energy to National security.
Dr. Smalley’s accomplishments in the field of nanotechnology have greatly contributed to the academic and research communities of Rice University, the State of Texas, and the entire country.
He, along with Nobel Laureate Michael Brown, was a founding co-chairman of the Texas Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science, which has played an instrumental role in enhancing research in Texas.
Dr. Smalley devoted his talent to employ nanotechnology to solve the world’s energy problem, which he believed could ultimately solve other global problems such as hunger and lack of water.
His devotion to science and its application to solving world issues earned him numerous honors and accolades including the Distinguished Public Service Medal from the U.S. Department of the Navy and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Small Times Magazine.
While Dr. Smalley may no longer be with us, his legacy will continue to grow as scientists build upon his work and all of us around the world reap the benefits of his discoveries.
My condolences go to out to his wife Deborah, two sons, Chad and Preston, and the rest of his family and friends.