History of Telluride Science

Nearly 40 years in the making

A Rich History

Telluride Science was born in a Telluride schoolhouse nearly 40 years ago. In 1984, Stephen Berry, University of Chicago chemistry professor, and Peter Salamon, San Diego State University mathematics professor, brought 18 scientists to Telluride for a workshop as they found the remote San Juan Mountains inspirational. They launched Telluride Science to bring together international scientists to debate, discuss, and discover new directions for scientific research in an intimate setting. Early workshops focused on thermodynamics (founding workshop), chaos theory, clusters, spectroscopy, and intermolecular dynamics. Informality and candidness were the organizing principles of Telluride Science. Initially,  participants focused on theoretical science, laying the groundwork for much of today’s applied science. Multidisciplinary meetings with open communication between junior and senior scientists were key to moving science forward, they thought, and what better place than Telluride. Many of the founding scientists still regularly attend Telluride Science meetings, including Peter. Stephen Berry regularly attended until he passed away in 2020.

Our Founder

R. Stephen Berry

It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of R. Stephen Berry on July 26, 2020. He will be deeply missed in Telluride and around the world.

Berry co-founded Telluride Science with Peter Salamon in 1984 with one meeting and 18 scientists. Now attracting over 1,400 scientists annually, Telluride Science gathers together the world’s brightest minds to ponder fundamental questions at the root of the world’s greatest challenges. Berry believed that scientists need to give themselves space and time to think, and there’s no better place to be inspired than in the awe inspiring San Juan Mountains of Telluride. He was an extraordinary man and his scientific contributions were vast, including work on measuring electron affinities, understanding structural transitions in clusters of molecules, and finite time thermodynamics. He was a pioneer of life-cycle energy analysis, and his impact on public policy is incalculable. Telluride Science is proud to be among the lasting legacies of R. Stephen Berry.

Our founder

Peter Salamon

Peter Salamon served as Telluride Science’s first Chairman of the Board and President from 1984 through 1987, and has organized almost an average of one workshop per year since then. A professor in the mathematics department at San Diego State University since 1980, he has also held visiting positions at Tel Aviv University, University of Copenhagen, University of Heidelberg, and the Hebrew University. At the age of ten, Peter emigrated with his family from Hungary to the United States. He grew up in Chicago, and eventually attended the University of Chicago, where he got his PhD in chemistry in the research group of R. Stephen Berry. As a result, he got his introduction to Colorado workshops as a graduate student in Aspen. The impetus for starting workshops in Telluride originated when the Aspen Center for Physics schedule did not have room for a thermodynamics workshop in their 1984 program. Along with Berry, Peter organized the first Telluride workshop in 1984 and incorporated Telluride Science as a non-proft shortly thereafter in January 1985. Peter managed most of the early logistics and administration of Telluride Science, from negotiating the first meeting space at the Telluride High School in 1984 to applying for grants to recruiting new organizers. His dedication to Telluride Science has been key to the organization’s growth in size and reputation over nearly four decades. Peter is still involved with Telluride Science and is a regular organizer of workshops every summer.