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05/09/2011 07:00:00

New Display Showcases Historic Awards Won By Caltech Researchers

The top floor of Parsons-Gates is shining a bit brighter lately. Some of Caltech's most important accolades—including numerous medals— are currently on display there thanks to the "Olympians of Science" exhibit, a presentation of awards that have been won by Caltech engineers and scientists over the past 110 years.

"Many people know about the Nobel Prize and even about the National Medal of Science. But there are many other scientific prizes and forms of special recognition that are not so well understood or appreciated," says Shelley Erwin, head of archives and special collections for the Caltech Archives, which curated the exhibit. "Caltech's scientists and engineers have been winners in many award categories, very frequently in a global arena. We tried to show a range of these awards in both visual and historical terms."

Displayed on the second floor of Parsons-Gates Hall of Administration, the "Olympians of Science" exhibit features four cases of medals, awards, letters, and images, and will run through the summer. Some of the highlights of the showcase include various items that document Robert A. Millikan's Nobel Prize, from the first telegram announcing the award to the handmade Nobel diploma, as well as the medal and Millikan's personal medal case.

Other items of note include the royal and academic decorations and other colorful European awards of merit given to aerospace engineer and physicist Theodore von Kármán. Another display highlights the intellectual lineage in genetics that began with Nobel Prize-winning biologist T. H. Morgan, who established the Division of Biology at Caltech. His pioneering work in genetics was continued through his students and Caltech colleagues, including geneticist George W. Beadle, biophysicist Max Delbrück, and geneticist Edward B. Lewis, who also were awarded Nobel Prizes. 

For more information, visit the exhibit's webpage at:

Written by Katie Neith