January 30, 2014

Alumnus and Innovator

Roger Appeldorn 2

After graduating from Hamline in 1957, Roger H. Appeldorn’s physics degree helped land him a position at 3M Corporation where he went on to become an innovator of optic and microreplication technologies. He currently holds 35 U.S. patents and was awarded Hamline’s alumni accomplishment award in 1997. This fall, he returned to campus as the keynote speaker of Hamline’s 22nd annual Emma Kay Malmstrom Lecture in Physics.

“Hearing from a Hamline physics alumnus is a great way for students to see that someone in their current position can end up being one of the biggest contributors to research and development in one of the biggest companies in the world,” Bruce Bolon, chair of the Physics Department, said. “Roger Appeldorn’s lecture on innovation attempted to point out that critical thinking can lead to great advances and should be practiced and employed regularly.”

The Emma Kay Malmstrom Lectures were established by Carl Malmstrom in 1991. Malmstrom also contributed to collaborative research scholarships and an endowed chair professor position. Carl Malmstrom created the lectures as a way of familiarizing students with contemporary issues in physics. The lectures are not just open to science majors, other Hamline student, faculty, and staff as well as the public and local high school students are invited to learn more about the world of science at this annual event.

“These lectures typically illustrate to students that the application of physics in a professional capacity is not much different from what they are doing day-to-day in class and in their research,” Bolon said.

Appeldorn’s presentation focused on the traits of innovators in the field of physics, and how someone can acquire those traits. He spoke of his own experience at Hamline, and his work at 3M Corporation where his innovative mindset allowed him to invent new products like the overhead projector.

“Mr. Appledorn recognized connections between his areas of knowledge and strove to keep learning throughout his career and retirement. This enabled him to make the most of what he learned at Hamline and to contribute greatly to 3M,” Emma Reeves, a senior majoring in physics, said. “When Mr. Appledorn refers to innovation, I believe he is referring to that deep knowledge of science and its application in society which he, and others after him, obtain from a continued desire to be connected and understand modern scientific advances.”

In past years, the Malmstrom Lecture has featured many alumni and Nobel laureates. Last year’s guest was Dr. Wolfgang Ketterle who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001. Dr. Ketterle spoke about his achievements researching matter in near absolute zero temperatures. Other guest speakers include scientists such as Dr. Nergis Mavalvala, Dr. Jordan Goodman, and Dr. David Wineland.

“We always try to invite speakers who have made a substantial impact. It’s very often been people who have already won the Nobel Prize in Physics or a related field,” Bolon said.