POTSDAM – Scientist and inventor Anthony Brennan will encourage SUNY Potsdam students to widen their vision when he addresses graduating seniors at the college’s 2012 Bachelor’s Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 20 in the Academic Quad.
The founder of Sharklet Technologies Inc. and the Margaret A. Ross Endowed Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Florida, Brennan, a 1975 SUNY Potdam graduate, will receive an honorary doctor of science degree from the State University of New York, and will offer the keynote address to approximately 750 bachelor’s graduates, along with hundreds of family members and friends.
SUNY Potsdam President Dr. John F. Schwaller said, “Tony has set an impressive example for all SUNY Potsdam students and researchers. His far-sighted work has benefited not only his field and his students, but also patients across the globe.”
As a chemistry major at SUNY Potsdam 40 years ago, Brennan’s professors taught him that “nothing is easy, and you cannot take the path of least resistance when it comes to learning science.”
Originally from Natural Bridge, he went on to earn his bachelor of science degree in chemistry from SUNY Potsdam, and then earned a master’s in chemistry from the Rochester Institute of Technology, before receiving his Ph.D. in materials engineering from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Today, Brennan leads a team of research scientists at the University of Florida who have devoted 20 years to developing a material that has the potential to save lives and prevent life-threatening infections. These infections, caused by bacteria that are often traced to the hospital environment, are estimated to impact more than 2 million patients annually and result in more than 99,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Once manufactured, Sharklet, the sharkskin-like material created by Brennan and his team, will protect humans from harmful bacteria without requiring the use of antibacterial chemicals or drugs. The first anticipated use of Sharklet will be on medical surfaces and devices that carry a high risk of infection. The product was originally developed for the Office of Naval Research, which was the first to invest in Brennan’s research in 1999. The Navy was interested in learning how to inhibit the growth of marine organisms such as algae and barnacles.
Brennan’s research has been featured on the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” on PBS’s “Nova,” CNN, CBS News, the Wall Street Journal and in Wired, Fast Company, Discover and Popular Science magazines. “Sharklet” was an answer on the Jeopardy game show in 2011.
In 2009, Brennan returned to his alma mater as a Distinguished Alumni Speaker, presenting lectures in biology and chemistry and serving as keynote speaker at the annual career dinner for the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP).