For more than 100 years, Notre Dame researchers have been at the forefront of numerous pioneering developments:
- In 1893, 10 years before the Wright brothers’ first flight, Notre Dame engineering professor Albert Zahm organized the first International Aeronautic Congress in Chicago. Based upon experiments on campus, he presented a paper that proposed the first modern method for launching airplanes and manually controlling them in flight by using rotating wing parts to balance the aircraft laterally and a double tail to control pitching and side-to-side movement.
- Jerome J. Green, a member of Notre Dame's engineering faculty 1895-1914, was a pioneer of wireless communication. Guided by the findings of Guglielmo Marconi, Green became the first American to transmit a wireless message—from Notre Dame to neighboring Saint Mary's College.
- Beginning in 1907, Notre Dame priest and professor Rev. Julius Nieuwland, C.S.C., conducted research that 25 years later led to the discovery of the formulae for synthetic rubber. Produced commercially by the DuPont Company under the brand name Neoprene, the highly elastic material is used for products ranging from water-faucet washers to gasoline-pump hoses to the adhesive strips on disposable diapers.
- In the 1930s, professors Edward A. Coomes and George B. Collins led a research team that was the first to use an electronstatic generator to accelerate electrons and the first to disintegrate the nucleus of an atom with electrons. They built a larger electronstatic generator with nearly double the voltage of the first that was used by the Manhattan Project during World War II to study the effects of radiation on matter.
- Germ-free technology developed by professors James Reyniers and Morris Pollard at Notre Dame's LOBUND Laboratory has played a significant role in bone-marrow treatment for leukemia and Hodgkins disease, the prevention of colon cancer, and the use of nutrition in preventing prostate cancer.
- Biologist George B. Craig Jr. was one of the world’s foremost experts on mosquitoes and their disease-carrying capabilities. For two decades he studied the genetics of Aedes aegypti, the Yellow Fever mosquito, using it to better understand disease transmission and to experiment with genetic control techniques. His later work included study of LaCrosse encephalitis in the Midwest and the Asian Tiger mosquito's migration from Southeast Asia to the United States.
- The U.S. Department of Energy-supported Radiation Laboratory on campus has given Notre Dame the largest concentration of radiation chemists in the world, with typically 30 different external institutions represented annually on its research staff. Notre Dame was the first American university to provide formal training in radiation chemistry and it continues to be the principal source of trained postgraduates in the field.