Alice recognizes native Nobel Prize winners with billboards

Robin Bradshaw
Alice Echo News Journal

The city will have four new billboards going up this week showcasing and honoring the two Alice-born natives and Noble Prize winners James Allison and Robert Curl Jr. 

The four billboards will be located from east to west on highway 44 and 281, from east to west on highway 44 over highway 359, from north to south on 281 and on highway 44 coming into Alice from Corpus Christi. 

"The billboard project started before COVID-19 and was pushed back due to the multiple public health priorities," City Manager Michael Esparza said. "Alice is a small town with less than 20,000 in population and to have two Nobel Prize winners is something remarkable and city leaders wanted to highlight that." 

Alice Billboard featuring Noble Prize winners James Allison and Robert Curl Jr.

Robert F. Curl Jr. 

In 1996, Robert F. Curl Jr. won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, during the time he was affiliated with Rice University, Houston. The prize was recognized for the motivation: "for their discovery of fullerenes."

According to the American Chemical Society, the discovery of new, all-carbon molecules known as fullerenes was the unexpected result of research into particles found in space. Scientists in different fields collaborated on the research that led to this discovery. No one set out to discover fullerenes—they were observed by scientists alert enough to realize they were seeing something new.

James P. Allison

More recently in 2018, James P. Allison won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Allison was recognized for his work at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston.

The prize motivation "for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation."

Allison's work launched an effective new way to attack cancer by treating the immune system rather than the tumor. Allison was the first MD Anderson scientist to receive the world’s most preeminent award for outstanding discoveries in the fields of life sciences and medicine.

“Alice's roots are strong and noteworthy making history in such a positive way," said Mayor Jolene Vanover. "These gentlemen serve as an inspiration and reminder that Alice is a prideful community and are made of extended generations of intelligence."

"The timing is especially of great significance to serve as a reminder that there’s always light amongst the darkness that will shine when we’ve been through some of the tough times because we are Alice proud," she added. 

"The billboards are a temporary showcase of the native Nobel Prize winners. The city is working on a permanent mural to showcase their contributions to science," Esparza said.

More:There's a new mural in town. Here's why 'Alice es Buena Gente' made a comeback