Celebration of Kansas scientific history recognizes influential KU minds

State's 150th anniversary prompts initiative

Kansas will observe the 150th anniversary of statehood on Jan. 29, and KU’s contributions to science and innovation are part of the yearlong celebration.

Starting in January and continuing through December, the Ad Astra Kansas Initiative in Hutchinson is releasing 150 online trading cards that recognize past and present scientists and engineers with connections to the state. These include university researchers, inventors and others whose contributions to science and technology have had an impact on Kansas and the world. Nominations were submitted last fall by universities and other organizations.

Judy Wu

The principal audience for the trading cards is K-12 students in Kansas. The goal is to help teach students about the importance of science and innovation and the role they play in the history and future of the state.

The first distribution of 12 cards features four individuals with KU connections:

• Judy Wu, University Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy

• Hamilton Perkins Cady (1874-1943), professor of chemistry and co-discoverer of the element helium

• Walter Sutton (1877-1916), KU School of Medicine faculty member and pioneer in the use of X-ray localization

• Brian McClendon, KU engineering graduate (1986) and co-inventor of the Google Earth search tool

“I feel greatly honored to be selected for this recognition,” said Wu, who joined the KU faculty in 1993 after receiving a doctorate in physics at the University of Houston. “I hope my experience provides some inspiration for students and encourages them to pursue their dreams in science.”

Eight additional KU-related individuals are scheduled for recognition with Ad Astra’s February and March posting of trading cards, including

• Current faculty members Kristin Bowman-James in chemistry and Prasad Gogineni in electrical engineering and computer science

• Historical faculty members Cora Downs and Creighton Hardin

• Alumnus (1936, 1939) Clyde Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto

• Alumnus (1903) Elmer McCollum, discoverer of Vitamins A, B and D

• Alumnus (1940) Otis Ray McIntire, inventor of Styrofoam

• Alumnus (1969) Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford Motor Company

For more information about the project and to download the cards, go to

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