About the series

A generous fund from the Hugh and Ethel Kelly Gift allowed the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science and the College of Engineering to establish this distinguished speaker series in 2013. The inaugural lecture, presented by Nobel Laureate Steven Chu, was attended by over one thousand members of the Virginia Tech community.

The series honors the Kellys' love for Virginia Tech by providing an opportunity for students, faculty, and the community to interact with visionary leaders. The lectures are a dynamic forum for new knowledge and a catalyst for future research.

About the Kellys

Hugh Kelly was a double alumnus of Virginia Tech, earning a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1937 and a master's degree a year later. Kelly worked as an engineer at AT&T’s famed Bell Laboratories, where he played important roles in groundbreaking projects including the 1962 launch of the Telstar communications satellite, the first private venture in space; he died in 1989. Ethel Kelly, who died in 2012, generously supported Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering as a way of honoring her husband’s legacy.


Upcoming speakers

Venita Aspen

Venita Aspen
Open to the public | RSVP recommended 

April 9, 2024 - 2:00 pm 
Haymarket Theatre - Squires Student Center

Past speakers


Rebecca Skloot
& members of the Lacks family 

Best selling author & journalist
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

April 11, 2023
Haymarket Theatre - Squires Student Center


Ed Yong
Science journalist, The Atlantic
Pulitzer Prize winner 

October 19, 2022
Moss Arts Center
2:30 PM 


John Rogers

John Rogers headshot

John Rogers
Louis Simpson and Kimberly Querrey Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Neurological Surgery 

Northwestern University
Three Dimensional Electronic Microfliers Inspired by Wind Dispersed Seeds
May 2, 2022

Doris Kearns Goodwin

Doris Kearns Goodwin
Presidential Historian &
Pulitzer Prize-winning author
Leadership in Turbulent Times
March 3, 2020


David Leigh
Magic of Molecular Machines 
September 30, 2016


Eric Betzig
Nobel laureate
Imaging Life at High Spatiotemporal Resolution
April 19, 2016


Wayne Clough
Secretary Emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution 
Climate Change: Engineering reality into the debate 
October 2, 2015


Steven Chu
Nobel laureate
Former U.S. Secretary of Energy

How to Create a Bell Labs 2.0 in Today's Realities
October 11, 2013