Magazine, The Immigrant Experience
Italian Americans have added value to every sphere of American life for centuries. Especially in the fields of science and technology, they brought remarkable reforms, built foundations for scientific research, and made many scientific inventions.
As we are celebrating October as an officially proclaimed Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month, we have compiled a list of renowned Italian-Americans and their luminous contributions to science and technology to honor their achievements.
Fermi, the Nobel prize winner in Physics for his work on Radioactivity and the discovery of new elements, was a famous Italian American physicist who created the World’s first Nuclear reactor namely Chicago Pile-1. He was also titled the Architect of the Nuclear Age and Architect of the Atomic Bomb. His significant contributions to developing statistical mechanics, quantum theory, and nuclear & particle physics are always remembered in history.
He was a well-known Italian American expert in tropical medicine and a bacteriologist, pathologist, and physician. He also served as a professor at the University of Havana. As a bacteriologist, his work for the cure of Yellow Fever (a viral disease) led him to serve in the Yellow Fever Commission (a US Army commission to study the cure of Yellow fever) as well. He had made many publications regarding bacterial investigations and experiments on yellow fever.
Robert Feno is an Italian American computer scientist who made splendid contributions to developing microwave systems, filters, and information theory. He was also a professor of Electric Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His work on information theory and microwave systems led him to become a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE). He had published various books and articles on Networks Theory, Electromagnetism, and Engineering Education.
Louis Ignarro is a well-known Italian American pharmacologist who has also earned the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine (in 1998) for revealing the signaling properties of Nitric Oxide. His contributions to the advancement of cardiovascular science led him to achieve the basic research prize of the American Heart Association. Louis Ignarro founded the Nitric Oxide Society; he is also the founder and chief editor of Nitric Oxide Biology and Chemistry.
Rita Levi-Montalcini was an Italian American neurobiologist and discoverer of the Nerve Growth Factor (Prototypical Growth Factor). She, along with her colleague, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1986. Rita was also honored as Senator of Life in the Italian Senate because of her considerable scientific contributions. She was the first Nobel Prize holder who lived more than 100 years.
Riccardo Giacconi was an Italian American astrophysicist and discoverer of Cosmic X-Rays sources. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2002. Riccardo laid the foundation of X-ray astronomy and was a professor at Johns Hopkins University. He was a lead researcher with NASA’s X-ray Observatory in their Chandra Deep Field South Project as well.
Giuliana Tesoro was an Italian American Organic Chemist who made significant contributions to the field of textile and fiber industry. Her work in textile processing, fire safety, and organic compounds improved the effectiveness of processing systems and improved textile industry performance. She was also the developer of Flame Resistant Fibers that are almost fireproof and improved wrinkle-resistant methods for the textile industry. Giuliana was also honored with the Onley Medal, and the Society of Women Engineers Award as well.
Every October, the US celebrates Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month to honor the achievements and contributions of Italian immigrants and their descendants living in the United States, particularly in the arts, science, and culture. Italian immigrants, who began arriving in large numbers in the late 1800s, fueled the industrial economy of the US as laborers, while their descendants helped further it by creating new scientific and cultural knowledge.
Throughout October, some organizations such as the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF), the Italian Scientists & Scholars in North America Foundation (ISSNAF), and others arrange many events across America to highlight and promote the accomplishments achieved by Italian Americans working in the field of science and technology. You can either participate in one of these events or find your own way of celebrating Italian-American Heritage Month.