Colorado State University to Host 2011 John K. and Dolores Stille Science Symposium on Sustainability Oct. 22

Colorado State University will host this year’s Stille Science Symposium, “Materials for a Sustainable World,” on Oct. 22 on a major issue of modern time: preparing a sustainable future for future generations.

The event is named in honor of the late CSU Chemistry Professor John Stille and his wife Dolores. Lectures will be held in the Behavioral Sciences Building, Room 131. The symposium will also feature a reception and student poster session at 4 p.m. in Room 103 Chemistry Building.

Four world-renowned scientists will give plenary lectures on key aspects of materials for sustainable living, followed by a student poster session highlighting materials research efforts at Colorado State. The event is free and open to the public. For a full schedule of events, go to

“Two factors stand out for a sustainable future to happen: doing more with less and harnessing the energy that the sun provides us,” said Tony Rappe, a chemistry professor who is helping plan the event. “Energy efficiency, as embodied in catalysis, is key to the first factor. Catalysts are materials that lower the energy demands and reduce the waste of chemical processes involved in food production, water purification, fuel refinement, electronic device construction and modern pharmaceuticals.”

Two of this year’s Stille lectures focus on catalysis. Professor Paul Alivisatos of the University of California-Berkeley, will describe a novel approach to nanoscale catalyst identification, characterization and ultimately enhancement. Professor Robert Waymouth of Stanford University will discuss the catalytic production of bio-renewable chemical feedstocks and their use in the production of renewable alternatives to the plastics people rely on for current high quality of life.

The remaining two lectures focus on harnessing and storing solar energy.

“We need to be able to store captured solar energy,” Rappe said. “We’re all aware of the problems with modern battery technology, problems that any of us with a cell phone or laptop has experienced -short lifetime and low energy density. Batteries like these generally only last 18 months and account for half the weight of the cell phone or laptop. Solar energy can be stored in batteries or as fuels.”

Professor Esther Takeuchi of SUNY Buffalo will highlight her research into nanoscale control of the active materials in batteries. Professor Daniel Nocera of MIT will describe his group’s efforts at developing materials for the photoconversion of solar energy into chemical fuels on a scale suitable for supplying energy to the 6 billion people that inhabit the earth.

Stille began teaching at Colorado State in 1977 and was one of CSU’s first University Distinguished Professors. Stille’s research was cut short with his death on July 19,1989, in the crash of United Airlines 232 in Sioux City, Iowa. His wife, Dolores, was a strong supporter of her husband’s career and of the chemistry department at Colorado State University until her death in February 1995.