UK polymer chemist Anthony Ryan to give series of lectures

Anthony Ryan

Anthony Ryan, professor at the University of Sheffield, U.K., has been named the 2016 Mary Upson Visiting Lecturer in Materials Science and Engineering. In residence through Sept. 20, he has a busy schedule of talks on campus.

Ryan is a respected polymer chemist, director of the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures and an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his services to science. Most recently, Ryan has been pro-vice-chancellor of Sheffield University’s Faculty of Science.

Ryan lectured Aug. 25 on “Phase Transitions Initiated by Polymerization,” aimed at materials scientists, and on Aug. 31 he gave a talk on motility for researchers and users of the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source.

On Sept. 7 Ryan will talk about the Grantham Centre’s Project Sunshine with members of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. On Sept. 12 he will present a talk with his collaborator, artist and designer Helen Storey, titled “When Art Met Science.” They will discuss clothing they have created from fabric that incorporates a catalyst and takes pollution out of the air.

Finally, on Sept. 19 Ryan will present a talk on flow-induced crystallization.

Ryan’s first research career was focused on polymer nanotechnology, with hundreds of published journal articles. His focus now is on challenges facing humanity as it tries to provide food and energy for more than 7 billion people. At the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, Ryan leads a multidisciplinary effort to “create knowledge and connect that knowledge to policy debates on how to build a fairer world and save natural resources for future generations.”

“The role of the modern university is to do the long-term thinking and planning for society,” Ryan said. “Businesses think and act on a shorter timeline, and politicians have to worry about getting re-elected. Universities are the natural entity to step into this void. The way the Atkinson Center deals with sustainability is very impressive, and I would like to learn from them while I am here.”

Ryan believes that he has an obligation to put his knowledge of materials science to good use. “I have 30 years of experience under my belt. The Grantham Centre gives me a way to put my experience to work for the good of mankind.”

The Mary Upson Visiting Lectureship was established in 1966 through a bequest of the widow of Maxwell M. Upson, a Class of 1899 Cornell Engineering graduate and a member of the Cornell Board of Trustees for 35 years.

Chris Dawson is marketing brand manager for Cornell Engineering.

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