R&D Stars To Watch

IW celebrates the contributions of individuals who drive innovation and provide the initial spark to economic growth.

  • Zhenan Bao, chemist, Lucent Technologies Inc.'s Bell Labs, Murray Hill, N.J. Working as part of an interdisciplinary team comprised of Bell Labs scientists, Bao helped to create a molecular-scale organic transistor. This breakthrough, described in the Oct. 18 issue of Nature, opens the door to molecular electronics that may someday provide an alternative to silicon-based electronics. The continuing miniaturization of silicon-based circuits using current technology is expected by some to subside in about a decade as physical limitations are reached. Bao's colleagues in this research are Hendrik Schon and Hong Meng.
  • Trevor Baylis, inventor, London. In 1991 Baylis invented the Freeplay, a low-cost radio that worked on a hand crank, which initially was marketed to aid organizations for distribution in war zones and refugee camps. Over 2 million Freeplays have been sold. Now Baylis has created an electric shoe capable of charging batteries by pedestrian power for use in portable electronics such as cell phones and pagers. The shoe's heel is fashioned from piezoelectric crystal, which produces high voltage at a low current. The resulting electronic circuit connects to the charging battery.
  • Loren Carpenter, senior scientist, Pixar Animation Studios, Emeryville, Calif. In 1980, applying old mathematical concepts in a novel way, Carpenter created realistic computer-generated landscapes that viewers could move through and see from different perspectives. That application became part of the RenderMan software used in Pixar's movies and many other box-office hits, such as "The Lost World" and "The Hollow Man", and led to a 2001 Oscar for Carpenter and two other Pixar scientists.
  • Ed Catmull, president, Pixar Animation Studios, Emeryville, Calif. Catmull's development of texture mapping led to the creation of RenderMan software, used in Pixar films including "Toy Story" and "A Bug's Life", as well as other box-office hits. Catmull, named Pixar president in January, and two of his colleagues won an Oscar in 2001. He was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in October 2000.
  • Isaac Chuang, research staff member, IBM Corp.'s Almaden Research Center, San Jose. A team led by Chuang designed a quantum computer that promises to solve some of the most difficult mathematical problems exponentially faster than a conventional computer. The Chuang team's device is a glass tube containing specially designed molecules that allowed the researchers to solve in one step a mathematical problem for which conventional computers require repeated cycles. Although commercial quantum computers are still many years away, IBM's device "gives us a great deal of confidence in understanding how quantum computing can evolve into a future technology," says Chuang.
  • Rob Cook, senior scientist, Pixar Animation Studios, Emeryville, Calif. While developing RenderMan software in the early 1980s, Cook created the original language for Shade Trees, programmable shading in software renderings. The RenderMan software is now used for all of Pixar's animated movies. Cook was one of three Pixar scientists to win a 2001 Oscar for "significant advancements in the field of motion picture rendering."
  • Alan Cox, programmer, Linux operating system, Swansea, Wales. Cox is gatekeeper for Linux, the operating system invented by Linus Torvalds. Cox incorporates bug fixes from developers around the world into the system, keeping it running smoothly. Cox also is affiliated with Red Hat Software, which develops applications for the system.
  • Raymond Damadian, president and chairman, Fonar Corp., Melville, N.Y. Damadian this year received the Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award for his pioneering research of magnetic resonance scanning or imaging (MRI) technology, a non-invasive diagnostic tool widely used to detect diseases in the human body. Today Damadian oversees the Fonar Corp., which he formed in 1978 to research, develop and manufacture MRI scanners. Recent innovations or works-in-progress include a room-sized MRI and a scanner that permits patients to be positioned in several weight-bearing positions.
  • Jonathan Dordick, professor of chemical engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y. Dordick and colleagues have shown that enzymes, designed by nature to work best immersed in water, also can operate effectively dissolved in organic chemicals or in a high salt concentration. The researcher and his bioengineering team are now working to develop an active system of enzymes on a microchip that will determine the metabolic functions of genetic materials to help to interpret the human genome.
  • Judith Estrin, president and CEO, Packet Design LLC, Mountain View, Calif. A former chief technology officer of Cisco Systems Inc., Estrin, with her husband Bill Carrico, previously built three technology companies from start-up to profitable public entities. In 2000 they founded Packet Design, which develops technologies that enhance the performance, scalability, provisioning, and ease of use of the Internet infrastructure. The company already has spun off another start-up, Vernier Networks Inc., which offers products that help protect and manage wireless networks.
  • Paul W. Ewald, professor of biology, Amherst College, Amherst, Mass. The author of numerous articles and two books, Ewald's views are controversial in scientific circles. He has been praised for using evolutionary theory to attack pathogenesis issues, and he has shown a way to generate testable hypotheses to study the evolution of virulence and infectious causes of chronic diseases. More recently, Ewald has argued that infection may play a role in cancer, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's and other chronic conditions.
  • David Feldman, founder and CEO, ZF Micro Devices Inc., Palo Alto, Calif. Feldman, who has over 20 years' experience working with embedded systems, invented the ZFx86, a PC on a chip that is crash- and virus-resistant. Applications include wireless networking hubs, Internet/Web connectivity such as remote medical monitoring systems, and positioning systems such as freight trackers. Feldman created the PC/104 format.
  • Martin E. Glicksman, professor of materials engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y. Glicksman developed a series of microgravity crystal-growth experiments successfully flown on space shuttle missions in 1994, 1996 and 1997. This year he received a Humboldt Senior Research Prize from Germany's Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for his research in materials processing, including metals solidification, crystal growth of electronic materials, and microgravity science. Glicksman is a fellow of the Metallurgical Society, the American Society for Materials and the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science.
  • Leroy Hood, founder, Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle. After leaving the University of Washington last year, Hood formed the nonprofit ISB, which he hopes will transform the study of biology. Hood's specialty, systems biology, looks at how genes and proteins interact. In the '80s, while at the California Institute of Technology, he led the team that invented the DNA sequencer, the machine that made the Human Genome Project possible.
  • Ghassan E. Jabbour, assistant research professor, University of Arizona, Tucson. The organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology that Jabbour and his team are developing at the University of Arizona's Optical Sciences Center could lead to the replacement of liquid crystal displays in computer monitors. In the lab, Jabbour's team has fabricated devices that produce light 2,000 times brighter than the average computer display. Last year the U.S. Department of Defense provided several million dollars to the research effort.
  • Philip J. Kuekes, member of the technical staff, Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, Palo Alto, Calif. In collaboration with James Heath of UCLA and his HP colleague Stanley L. Williams, Kuekes has developed architectures for chemically assembled electronic nanocomputers. In 1989 Kuekes was principal architect of the MOSAIC processor, a 10 gigaflop heterogeneous supercomputer that was part of the DARPA/ISTO Strategic Computing Initiative. He joined HP in 1991 as project manager for Teramac, a trillion-operations-per-second reconfigurable computer that has been used to perform DNA sequence matching and MRI-based brain artery detection at 100 times workstation performance.
  • Michael Luby, chief technical officer and cofounder, Digital Fountain Inc., Fremont, Calif. A scientist in the areas of coding theory, randomized algorithms, cryptography and graph theory, Luby is the inventor of the Luby Transform, the mathematical algorithm that generates Meta-Content, a new digital media server that enables streaming video to be delivered over the Internet to a large number of concurrent users.
  • Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, professor, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh. A Carnegie Mellon faculty member since 1985, Matyjaszewski focuses his research on advancing the study of controlled radical polymerization, a principal method used to prepare polymers for industrial use. He heads a consortium of 21 industrial companies from around the world that are interested in creating novel polymeric materials and leads Carnegie Mellon's Center for Macromolecular Engineering. He won the 2002 ACS Award in Polymer Chemistry, administered by the American Chemistry Society.
  • James D. Meindl, professor of microelectronics, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. Meindl, whose current research interests focus on physical limits on gigascale integration, earlier this year received Georgia Tech's Distinguished Professor Award for his achievements as a teacher and researcher. Meindl is also director of the Joseph M. Pettit Microelectronics Research Center and the InterConnect Focus Center, a multi-university effort to research all aspects of the wiring that connects transistors on a microchip. In 1999 he received the Semiconductor Industry Assn.'s University Research Award.
  • Hong Meng, chemist, Lucent Technologies Inc.'s Bell Labs, Murray Hill, N.J. Meng and fellow Bell Labs scientists Hendrik Schon and Zhenan Bao have successfully fabricated an organic transistor with a single-molecule channel length, setting the stage for an eventual alternative to silicon transistors and smaller, more powerful chips. The size of a transistor's channel -- the space between its electrodes -- influences its output current and switching speed. The development of their prototype is described in the Oct. 18 issue of Nature.
  • Yee Jack Ng, professor, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Many physicists believe space consists of fluctuating arrangements of bubbles, called "quantum foam" that are so small they are outside the range of detection of current technology. Ng, though, believes that vibrations caused by the foam can be measured with modern gravitational-wave interferometers. He suggests that such evidence will be collected at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), a joint project between scientists at the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and supported by the National Science Foundation. The facility is dedicated to the detection of cosmic gravitational waves. If Ng's right, any such evidence could yield new insights into the nature of space.
  • John R. Patrick, vice president of Internet technology, IBM Corp., Armonk, N.Y. A 35-year veteran of IBM, Patrick leads that company's Internet initiatives. Patrick was closely involved in IBM's backing of Linux and is the creator of alphaWorks, IBM's online research and development laboratory for advanced Internet technology. Patrick is chairman of the Global Internet Project, an international organization that promotes private-sector solutions to Internet policy issues, and a founding member of the World Wide Web Consortium at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a frequent conference speaker and author of the recently published "Net Attitude" (2001, Perseus Publishing).
  • Janet Perna, general manager, IBM Data Management Solutions, Somers, N.Y. Since being appointed general manager in 1996, Perna has steered the growth of IBM's data management division, including its flagship DB2 Universal Database. Her team is responsible for the creation of DiscoveryLink, a technology developed as part of IBM's life sciences initiatives. DiscoveryLink allows researchers to access and extract data from multiple sources for medical research. Perna was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame earlier this year.
  • David Pratt, professor of chemistry, University of Pittsburgh. Pratt was a winner of Pittsburgh's 2001 Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award for his work in ultra high-resolution visible and UV spectroscopy, which advanced understanding of the structure and dynamics of polyatomic molecules. The university says the award also was in recognition of research that shed new light on how water and other solvents molecules interact with organic molecules.
  • Hendrik Schon, physicist, Lucent Technologies Inc.'s Bell Labs, Murray Hill, N.J. Possibly ushering in a new era of molecular-scale electronics, Schon and Bell Labs colleagues have created organic transistors with a single-molecule channel length, a dimension that is more than a factor of 10 smaller than anything that has been demonstrated. Their success suggests that one day molecular-sized transistors could be used in microprocessors and memory chips -- leading to smaller, more powerful chips. and providing an alternative to conventional silicon electronics.
  • Steven Schwartz, research scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass. Schwartz created MIThril, a tiny device implanted in a pair of special glasses and connected to a network of circuit boards designed into a vest worn under a suit. The result is Memory Glasses, the first wearable computer. Eventually, it is expected the wiring will be embedded in clothing and the components will be detachable via Velcro fastenings. Schwartz expects the system to make cell phones and handheld computers obsolete because the system projects an image as big as a TV screen to the person wearing the eye-piece.
  • Darlene Solomon, director, Life Science Technologies Laboratory, Agilent Laboratories, Palo Alto, Calif. Solomon is responsible for Agilent's central research program investments in support of its life science businesses. Among other activities, Solomon serves on the advisory board of the Nanobiotechnology Center at Cornell University. She was inducted earlier this year into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame.
  • Shirley M. Tilghman, president, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J. Tilghman, a molecular biologist active in the national effort to map the human genome, became Princeton's first female president and the second female Ivy League president. Tilghman has become a widely sought-after expert for national commissions and panels dealing with ethical dilemmas in modern science and headed the National Institutes of Health committee that established guidelines for the use of embryonic stem cells in biomedical research.
  • Marguerite Vogt, molecular biologist, Salk Institute, La Jolla. After publishing her first research paper at age 14, Vogt, now the oldest working scientist at the Salk Institute, has mastered a wide variety of research topics, including oncogenes -- genes that mutate into cancer; immunology; and telomeres -- distinctive chromosome tips that serve as molecular timepieces in healthy cells but play a sinister role in cancer. She also worked with Renato Dulbecco of the Salk Institute, on polio-virus studies that helped lead to the development of a polio vaccine.
  • Shuguang Zhang, associate director, Center for Biomedical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass. Zhang is studying the self-assembly properties of peptides, tiny protein structures that he believes may be the future of bionanotechnology. Self-assembling peptides show promise as a natural material with uses in tissue engineering, biomedical devices and other applications that require biological "scaffolding." Zhang also co-organized the first two world workshops on self-assembly of peptides in biology, medicine and engineering.

    Dave Schafer contributed to this article.

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