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Ottino to Deliver Michelson Lecture at US Naval Academy

Annual lecture invites distinguished scientists from myriad disciplines

Northwestern Engineering’s Julio M. Ottino will travel to the US Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis, Maryland, later this month to deliver the prestigious Michelson Memorial Lecture 

Julio M. Ottino

The Michelson Memorial Lecture Series, hosted by the USNA’s School of Mathematics and Science, commemorates the achievements of Albert A. Michelson, whose experiments on the measurement of the speed of light were initiated while he was a military instructor at the USNA. These studies not only advanced the science of physics but resulted in his selection as the first Nobel Laureate in science from the United States. 

Each year since 1981, a distinguished scientist has come to the Naval Academy to present the Michelson Lecture. These scientists have represented various scientific disciplines, including chemistry, physics, mathematics, oceanography, and computer science. 

Ottino, Distinguished Robert R. McCormick Institute Professor, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and (by courtesy) professor of mechanical engineering, will present a talk titled “Lessons in Creativity, Innovation, and Leadership through the Nexus of Science, Math, Technology, and Art” on April 17. The presentation will explore the essential role of creativity in science and the arts, as well as the creative processes and lessons that can be transferred across varied domains.  

Drawing from his most recent book, The Nexus: Augmented Thinking for a Complex World, The New Convergence of Art, Technology, and Science (MIT Press, 2022), with collaborator Bruce Mau, Ottino will make the case that artistic creativity reveals processes that hold lessons for scientific and technological creativity and innovation, and that a comparison across all domains contain lessons for leadership as well. 

Ottino, former dean of the McCormick School of Engineering, is an internationally recognized researcher in fluid and granular dynamics. His research has impacted a wide range of fields including geophysical sciences, material processing and microfluidics, and nonlinear dynamics and complex systems. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Last month, he was elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering’s College of Fellows.