PhD Journey: Shaun Gietman
Aug 5 2020
ACES Director Prof. Gordon Wallace this month joined science luminaries like Luigi Galvani, Albert Einstein and Marie Curie as a member of the Academy of Sciences of Bologna in recognition of his ‘high merits in medical sciences and in numerous representative roles’ in his life as a scientist.
The Academy, set up three centuries ago to reinvigorate scientific discovery, admitted Prof Wallace to the Physical Science division, as a Corresponding Member.
The membership was poignant, as it was Luigi Galvani’s pioneering work into bioelectricity or ‘animal electricity’ that inspired Prof Wallace to venture into electromaterials science.
“In science, as well as in all walks of life, we are inspired by legends,” Prof Wallace said.
“I have always been fascinated by Luigi Galvani’s frog’s legs work and I was truly inspired during my first visit to Bologna where I saw the experimental set ups he devised,” he said.
Galvani discovered that muscles were activated by electrical impulses when he applied an electrical spark to a frog’s leg which caused them to twitch. This created a new field of study which underpins modern knowledge of how the body works and in particular areas like neuroscience.
After making this discovery, Galvani became one of the Academy’s most well-known Presidents. By this time, the academy had become a reference centre for all scientific disciplines, taking into account the theories of Malpighi, Descartes and Newton, as well as the doctrines of Copernicus, Galileo and Bacon. After a brief set-back –a suspension due to the upheaval of the Napoleonic period—the Academy thrived again with new members such as Rizzoli, Righi and Cappellini.
Today, the Academy’s scientific work aims at providing the learning opportunities for PhD students and the faculty, as well as promoting the scientific culture and its dissemination into society.
“To be elected to the Academy in Bologna is a tremendous honour,” Prof Wallace said.
Professor Wallace plans to visit the Academy regularly to provide an update on his work.