As the City of Rome marks its 150th anniversary this year, some of that history is saluted in the Rome Science Hall of Fame, which since its creation in 2007 has inducted 32 area persons for substantial achievements in areas of science.
It has been “honoring people from throughout Rome’s 150 years,” said Paul Phister, president of the Rome Academy of Sciences which created the hall of fame. The Rome Academy of Sciences was established in the mid-1960s.
The names of some of those inducted in the hall are represented on well-known longtime Rome sites, such as John B. Jervis, for whom Jervis Public Library was named, and Lyndon H. Strough, for whom Strough Middle School was named.
Phister pointed out some of the other inductees have included Benjamin Wright, chief engineer on the Erie Canal, and Dr. Mary Walker, the only woman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Some significant local employers also have had key officials recognized in the hall, such as Rome Lab which has several inductees, and ANDRO Computational Solutions LLC whose founder and current President Dr. Andrew L. Drozd was one of the most recent inductees last year. Rome Lab today is formally called the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Information Directorate, and among its previous names was known as Rome Air Development Center (RADC).
Science areas under consideration for induction in the hall include Behavioral and Social Sciences, Biochemistry, Botany, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth and Space Sciences, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Gerontology, Mathematics, Medicine and Health, Microbiology, Physics, and Zoology.
Plaques of Rome Science Hall of Fame inductees, including highlights of their scientific contributions, are displayed on a wall at Rome City Hall. The chair of the induction committee is Joseph Stanton.
Recognition by the Rome Science Hall of Fame also includes an “Upcoming Science Achievement” for graduating high school students who have achieved at least a 98% grade-point average in the sciences and at least a 90% overall average. Since 2007 the Rome Academy of Sciences has honored 152 students from Rome Free Academy and the onetime Rome Catholic High School. Annual RFA awards ceremonies have been among the events recognizing student honorees, said Phister.
The 32 Rome Science Hall of Fame inductees, and some of their achievements:
John Dove: At RADC, he invented and held the patent for laser light technology used in development of the compact disc (commonly known as CD-ROM), video disc and compact disc drives.
Rodney Pratt: At RADC, he was involved in tuning in of the first intercontinental voice transmission from a ground site in Trinidad, bouncing off an Echo I balloon satellite to an RADC site. He received the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Award and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2004.
Dr. Jack A. Boulant: He has been a teacher, lecturer and research scientist in Environmental Physiology.
John B. Jervis: A chief engineer on major canal and railroad building projects, he designed the 41-mile Croton Aqueduct to New York City and bridge over the Harlem River.
Dr. Robert W. Thomas: At RADC, he led the semiconductor fabrication facility. Upon retirement from the Air Force, he joined the governing body that developed the National Electronic Process Standard.
Irving Gordy: He established and utilized the first of two atomic frequency standard clocks in the Air force.
Joe Uvanni: A Rome school district chemistry teacher for 34 years, he started the Rome Science Fair and along with some friends built and installed the large Armillary style sun dial on the RFA grounds. For 20 years he was recruited by the state Board of Regents to provide Chemistry regents questions.
Joan Terenzetti: She taught physics at RFA, and was nominated as an Outstanding Educator at least four times by high-achieving graduating senior students to the Rome College Foundation.
Dr. Fred Diamond: He was Rome Lab chief scientist, and retired from RADC in 1994. He received many awards and commendations, including two Air Force Decorations for Exceptional Civilian Service and the Presidential Award of Distinguished Executive Rank presented at the White House in 1992.
Sarah Jane Higham: She was a longtime RFA latin teacher and founder of Alpha Phi women’s sorority.
J. Alfred Stringham: At RADC, he pioneered development of multispectral collection on the LANDSAT satellite by developing a camera with a special narrow-band optical filter. His team pioneered use of Synthetic Aperture Radar for battle damage assessment, a concept that evolved into systems on several manned aircraft and early Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
Joseph Palombi: He received the Pi Mu calculus prize at Syracuse University and was a member of the American Physics Society as well as the Mohawk Valley Science Teachers Association. He was instrumental in organizing the first Science Fair in Rome and was key in setting up the New York State Science Fair held at RADC in 1962.
Jack Bart: He joined RADC in 1963, and in 1991 became Chief Scientist, Reliability Sciences of Rome Lab where he advanced development of information science and technology for aerospace command and control.
Dr. Donald W. Hanson: He joined RADC in 1968, and from 2005 until his retirement in 2009 was director of the AFRL Information Directorate. In 2005, he received the Presidential Meritorious Executive Rank Award from President George W. Bush.
Al Jamberdino: A research engineer at RADC and Rome Lab for over 40 years. he was considered a pioneer in development of optical storage technology.
Dr. James McNamara: His accomplishments for Alcoa included a change to existing aluminum cans by developing a “flux and solder” process, creating the existing “Pop-Up” openers used on virtually all aluminum cans today. He devised a new pollution-free process for refining copper with a 50% savings in cost and no toxic residue, a significant science achievement in the industry at the time.
Raymond P. Urtz: In 1990 he was appointed as director of Rome Lab and in 1997 was the first director of the newly created AFRL Information Directorate. His leadership and foresight led advancements in areas such as intelligent information systems science and technology, aerospace command and control, and defensive information warfare. In 1993 and in 2000, he was presented with the Presidential Meritorious Executive Rank Award by President Bill Clinton.
Dr. Mary Walker: A former Rome physician, she was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for her service during the Civil War. During World War II, a Liberty ship/cargo ship, the USS Mary Walker, was named in her honor. In 1982, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 20-cent stamp commemorating her Civil War accomplishments. A U.S. Army Reserve center in Michigan and medical facilities at SUNY Oswego were named after her.
William Fahy: A longtime engineer at General Electric, he received a patent for an alloy for the protection of thin Magnetic Memory Elements in guidance systems of deep space probes. The process was first used in the Viking rover projects which successfully landed on Mars.
Welthy Fisher: She founded the Literacy House in India in 1952, and became known in India as the “first lady of literacy.” The government of India issued a commemorative postage stamp of her, and she served as president of the World Education organization from 1959-1972
Richard Rabe: At RADC, he supervised the building of its first Electromagnetic Compatibility Analysis Facility Anechoic Chamber. He also guided two RADC test sites at Stockbridge and Newport to test antenna patterns and radar signatures on various aircraft, with the Newport site becoming known as “The Upside Down Air Force.”
Frank Potter: In 1896, he developed the first Roentgen ray photograph, an early type of X-ray in the U.S.. In 1905, with Stephen C. Houghton, they patented a new phone with the ear piece and mouth piece in one hand-held unit.
Benjamin Wright: Besides being Chief Engineer on the Erie Canal which began construction in 1816, he did considerable work for many of the early canals and railroads built in the U.S. in the 1800s. He became known as the “Father of Civil Engineering” by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Dr. Philip Domenico: In 1994 he invented bismuth thiols, a novel class of antimicrobial agents that exhibited potent activity against a broad spectrum of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and microbial biofilms called “Superbugs.”
Lyndon H. Strough: The Rome school district’s superintendent from 1945-1965, he also was president of the NY State Council of School Superintendents and received its Distinguished Service Award in 1966. A former math teacher, he was instrumental in installation of an IBM 360 mainframe computer in 1973, when computers were in their infancy, and In the 1960s he supported development of a chemistry lab incorporating a new semi-micro approach, leading to a safer and less expensive operation.
Charles F. Mowry: He joined the family business, Baum’s Castorine Co. Inc. in Rome, and his leadership and knowledge of chemistry were responsible for providing lubricants to transportation and industry, significantly expanding the customer base. In 1972, the company developed a fully synthetic 2-cycle engine oil that enhanced snowmobile racing, and by the 1990s it patented two new fire extinguishing formulae including one that was awarded the EPA’s 1998 Green Chemistry Challenge award.
Dr. Peter F. Coccia: He was instrumental in founding the early development of bone marrow transplants as treatment for inherited disorders and acute leukemia.
Dr. Sean A. Diehl: Much of the work in his University of Vermont lab has been focused on infections of global importance such as dengue virus, zika virus, rotavirus, and other pathogens. He recently has been working on a blood test to determine who has been exposed to COVID-19.
Dr. Richard W. Linderman: He has served as chief scientist of the AFRL Information Directorate and senior scientist for Advanced Computing Architectures. He led the first real-time airborne radar demonstration of Space-Time Adaptive Processing using HPC (High Performance Computing). He conceived the first “short stack memory” packaging concept, leading to patents supporting several embedded HPC developments.
Dr. Carl Kesselman: He served as chief scientist at Univa Corporation and was a senior research fellow at the California Institute of Technology. He received the British Computing Society Ada Lovelace medal, for individuals who made an outstanding contribution to the understanding or advancement of Grid Computing. He was a finalist in the World Technology Award for Information Technology Software and one of the top 10 InfoWorld Top Innovators.
Zbigniew (Ziggy) L. Pankowicz: At RADC he served as program manager to build the first Russian-to-English Translator. His computer-based solution enabled translation of Russian scientific text into English with some post-processing in hours; this area became known as Machine Translation. His efforts laid the groundwork for Computational Linguistics, a branch of what is now known as Artificial Intelligence.
Dr. Andrew L. Drozd: He founded the ANDRO company in 1994, and performs consulting and research and development of expert system solutions in electromagnetic environmental effects, spectrum management, radar systems, target recognition, data fusion, and image registration. In 2016 he founded The Project Fibonacci® Foundation, Inc., an education initiative focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math).