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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Expert on toxin and explosive sensors to present lectures at URI Sept. 25

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

KINGSTON, R.I. -- September 12, 2006 -- David Walt, a Tufts University chemist who has developed sensors to detect toxins, explosives and accelerants, will present two lectures at the University of Rhode Island on Monday, Sept. 25.

Walt will discuss “Optical Microsensor Arrays” at 3 p.m. in Pastore Hall room 124, followed by “The Present Status and Future Prospects of Sensors and Sensor Arrays” at 7 p.m. in the Bioscience Auditorium. Both lectures are free and open to the public and are located on the URI Kingston campus.

Sensors are pervasive and diverse, according to Walt, who points to examples such as those detecting smoke or carbon monoxide in the home, glucose in blood and contaminants in drinking water. Walt’s presentations will introduce the design and operating principles of modern sensors and explore some of the applications and future opportunities for implementing universal sensing platforms.

Walt is renowned for his pioneering work that applies micro and nanotechnology to urgent biological problems such as the analysis of genetic variation and the behavior of single cells, as well as the practical application of arrays to the detection of explosives, chemical warfare agents, and food and water-borne pathogens.

“Our laboratory investigates new ways to measure things,” explained Walt. “We create very small arrays containing thousands of features – 10,000 features can easily fit on the head of a pin. Researchers in the laboratory use these arrays to study fundamental aspects of biochemistry, genetics, cell biology, olfaction, and they also develop practical ways to measure such things as water and air contamination.”

A graduate of the University of Michigan and SUNY Stony Brook who conducted postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Walt is the recipient of the 3M Creativity Award and the Special Creativity Award from the National Science Foundation. He was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute professor in 2006, which included a $1 million grant to advance innovation in undergraduate science teaching. Walt holds 44 patents and is the founding scientist and director of Illumina, Inc., a San Diego-based biotechnology company that develops tools for the large-scale analysis of genetic variation and function.

The lectures are part of URI’s Alexander M. Cruickshank Lecture Series, which is endowed by the trustees of the Gordon Research Conferences and named after the former director of the Conferences. Cruickshank is also a retired professor and chair of URI’s Chemistry Department. For more information about the lectures, call 401-874-2318.