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Remarks

Photo of Joseph Bordogna

Dr. Joseph Bordogna
Deputy Director
Chief Operating Officer
National Science Foundation
Biography

Memorial Service for Dr. John Hopps
Pentagon
June 11, 2004

Good Morning.

It is an honor for all of us here from the National Science Foundation to join all of you in recognizing the life of Dr. John Hopps. John was held in eminently high regard as a scientist, educator, innovator, role model, and friend. He embraced each role as a personal mission.

In his three years as director of the National Science Foundation's Materials Research Division, John brought passion to his leadership task. He cared deeply about the success of each program and each person. He came to NSF from Charles Stark Draper Laboratory on a temporary detail, which he turned into a permanent legacy of growth and transformation in the materials research field.

John was instrumental in launching one of the first federal programs in nanoscale research and fabrication. In the early 1990s, the term "molecular nanotechnology" had been in the industry lexicon only a few years. Public funding was still a high-stakes gamble--an investment at the far frontiers of science and engineering.

In singling out the "Nano 95" program for NSF investment, John recognized the imperative for developing a U.S. strategy to meet the emerging international competition. Eventually, these initial steps at NSF would lead to a national nanotechnology initiative.

John also knew that materials research naturally cuts across and integrates, multiple disciplines. He helped transform the NSF-funded materials research labs into Materials research science and engineering centers. The new Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers--or MRSECs, as we call them--embrace multiple disciplines, attract partners from both academe and industry, and integrate research and education into one package.

He helped change the process of funding MRSECs from one based on tradition to one that required open, merit-based competition.

John was committed to excellence in education, as those of you in the Morehouse community well know, and he ensured that education was a prime component of the new MRSECs.

Even after leaving NSF, he continued to influence our educational initiatives, by working with NSF to start a Research Experience for Undergraduates program within the Department of Defense. The REU program provides hands-on research experience for students considering careers in science and engineering.

Before he left NSF, John took another step in advancing cross-cutting research and education. He was appointed to help set up an Office of Multidisciplinary Activities within the Mathematics and Physical Sciences Directorate.

John was an enabler--who took each emerging idea that was bubbling up in the community, and transformed it into a groundswell of progress and public support. He did that frequently at NSF. As just one example, a special one for me, I enjoyed the great privilege of spending many evening hours plotting with John on these ideas in my NSF office or at dinner.

John was friendly, outgoing, and considerate, always aware of the people around him and their needs. He took an interest in others' ideas--on scientific topics, on management, and on working conditions.

He will be remembered for his ability to channel the energy of conflict into positive directions, and for his lively conversations around the proverbial water cooler, pipe in hand.

Among his colleagues at NSF, his warmth and enthusiasm were deeply felt. Likewise, his loss will be deeply mourned. His legacy, however, will be borne out in the future of materials research and education as well as in the larger science, engineering, and academic communities.

Paraphrasing the words of John Paul Jones, John Hopps was a gentleman of punctilious courtesy and the nicest sense of personal honor. Those whose lives were touched by his hard work and commitment unanimously agree that he was a unique and benevolent spirit.

Return to a list of Dr. Bordogna's speeches.

 

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