President Obama visits the Hammond Lab, 2009

President Obama at the Hammond Lab
Source: Open Matters/MIT OpenCourseWare

Professor Paula Hammond demonstrates work on using genetically engineered viruses to produce self-assembling solar cells and batteries during U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to MIT, October 2009.


"He was very responsive, and an incredibly warm person," [Paula] Hammond SB '84, PhD '93, the Bayer Professor of Chemical Engineering, said of Obama. "When we described the self-assembly process, he asked several very intelligent questions, about the scalability of the process and so on."

In fact, after he heard part of the description of plans to develop the system so that batteries or solar cells could be made by spraying alternating layers of different organisms onto a glass surface, Hammond said, Obama turned to reporters who accompanied him on the tour and said "did you understand that?" - and then proceeded to explain the information in his own words.

"He was exactly correct," Belcher said. "I asked him if he wanted to teach my class." When Belcher, the Germehausen Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Biological Engineering, explained that her biologically based system made it possible to conduct a billion experiments at a time, he interrupted to say, "Really?" Belcher said "Yes we can," to which he quipped, "That was my slogan, you know." Overall, he was "serious, but kind of joking at the same time," Belcher said.

"Energy researchers find Obama an eager student," MIT News, 27 October 2009

Timeline: 2000s
School: School of Engineering
Department: Chemical Engineering
Career: CommunityEducationEngineeringGovernment & LawScienceTechnology
Object: Image
Collection: Faculty, Paula T. Hammond, Rising Voices 1995-Present, Women