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04-07-2009

Four to Receive Honorary Degrees from Clarkson University May 10

Ray Kurzweil, John H. Seinfeld, Joan A. Steitz and Daniel F. Sullivan will be awarded honorary degrees at Clarkson University's 116th commencement on Sunday, May 10.

Each honorary degree recipient will briefly address the students, their families and guests about a topic central to their success in life.

Inventor, author and entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil was the principal developer of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition. He has written five books, four of which have been national best sellers.

John H. Seinfeld is the Louis E. Nohl Professor in the Divisions of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and Engineering and Applied Science at the California Institute of Technology. He is widely acknowledged for his contributions to the understanding of the chemistry and physics of the atmosphere, including the development of the first models of the urban atmosphere, and explanation of the formation, growth, and dynamics of atmospheric aerosols, and the role of aerosols in climate.

Joan A. Steitz is the Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University and investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Maryland. In 1979, Steitz and her colleagues described a group of cellular particles called small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs), a breakthrough in understanding how RNA is spliced. Subsequently, her laboratory has defined the structures and functions of other snRNPs, such as those that guide the modification of ribosomal RNAs and several produced by transforming herpesviruses.

Daniel F. Sullivan is the 17th president of St. Lawrence University. Under his leadership, St. Lawrence has launched several major initiatives in facilities renovation, expansion and construction; in academic programs, including expansion of the faculty and the addition of new major fields and international study programs; and in regional economic development and community relations. Sullivan's nationally known scholarly work is in the fields of the sociology of science and medicine, the sociology of organizations, and higher education policy. Sullivan, who became president in 1996, will retire on June 30.

Commencement weekend will also be marked by the commissioning of United States Army and Air Force ROTC officers on Saturday, May 9.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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