R&D Stars To Watch

Dec. 21, 2004
IW selects 50 individuals whose achievements are shaping the future of industrial culture and technology policy.
Robert S. Langer, professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. The recipient of this year's Lemelson-MIT prize, Langer is considered a pioneer in biomedical and chemical engineering. As the holder of 320 patents, his discoveries are at the heart of the emerging technology of tissue engineering. Langer's findings at MIT and the Children's Hospital in Boston have revolutionized biomaterials research and technology. Stuart S. Parkin, IBM Corp.'s Almaden Research Center, San Jose; Albert Fert, Universit de Paris Sud; and Peter Gruenburg, German national physics laboratory, Julich. The three physicists received the 1997 Hewlett-Packard Europhysics Prize, awarded by the European Physical Society, for their discovery and contribution to understanding of the giant magnetoresistive effect in transition-metal multilayers, as well as their demonstration of its potential for technological applications. Philippe Kahn, founder, Starfish Software Inc., Scotts Valley, Calif. A mathematician and engineer, Kahn founded Starfish to develop wearable technology -- consumer electronic products that can be worn on a belt or carried in a shirt pocket. These "connected information devices" include pagers and cellular phones that connect information with specialized servers and personal computers. In addition, Kahn founded Borland International Inc., a software company, in 1983. Dan Bricklin, founder and chief technology officer, Trellix Corp., Waltham, Mass. The cocreator of VisiCalc, the first electronic spreadsheet, Bricklin has become the 11th recipient of the Software Publishers Assn.'s Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes individuals who have influenced the growth and development of the software industry. Founded in 1995, Bricklin's company develops and markets Trellix 1.0, which allows users of office product suites to create quality Web documents. Robert B. Laughlin, Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.; Horst L. Strmer, Lucent Technologies Inc., Murray Hill, N.J., and Columbia University, New York; and Daniel C. Tsui, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J. The three scientists, who won the 1998 Nobel Prize in physics, also are presently or formerly affiliated with Bell Labs, the R&D arm of Lucent Technologies, where they conducted experimental research in quantum physics in the 1980s. They discovered that electrons, when exposed to extreme cold and magnetic fields, behave more like fluids than particles. Potential applications include smaller, faster electronics. John A. Koskinen, chairman, President's Council on the Year 2000 Conversion, Washington. Appointed to his Y2K post in February 1998, Koskinen is responsible for coordinating the federal government's efforts to make sure critical information-technology systems operate smoothly through year 2000. His efforts extend to federal relationships with state, local, and tribal governments, as well as the private sector and foreign organizations that deal with similar challenges. Linda Sanford, general manager, S/390 Div., IBM Corp., White Plains, N.Y. Responsible for IBM's largest line of mainframe computers, Sanford has been instrumental in the resurgence in demand for the revitalized S/390. She accomplished this in part by leading the effort to create the OS/390 systems software. Her contributions have involved leading her group through significant cultural changes at IBM, as well as the transformation of the S/390 from the hierarchical architecture of the '60s and '70s to the enterprise-server architecture of the '90s. Sanford is a member of the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame. Mark Ptashne, professor of molecular biology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York. A 1997 recipient of the prestigious Lasker award in basic medical research, Ptashne has worked for more than 30 years on the question of how "regulatory molecules" control the function of genes. Through his study of this so-called genetic switch, Ptashne has uncovered clues for decoding genetic mechanisms of diseases such as cancer. Drew Major, chief scientist and vice president of advanced development, Novell Inc., Provo, Utah. A pioneer in the computing network industry, Major was one of the original architects of the NetWare operating system that powers networks of desktop computers and central servers. Most recently he and his research team brought Java, the CORBA distributed object model, and advanced Internet services to Novell products. Ted Nelson, visiting professor of environmental information, Keio University, Fujisawa, Japan. Since 1960 Nelson, who coined the terms "hypertext" and "hypermedia," has imagined computer networks as the storage place of human knowledge. He recently created ZigZag, a new hypertext software for organizing personal and professional data that also offers new methods of tying the data together. Nelson wrote what may be the first book on personal computers -- Computer Lib/Dream Machines: You Can and Must Understand Computers NOW -- in 1974, four months before the introduction of the first commercially available PC. John Gilmore, cofounder, Electronic Frontier Foundation, San Francisco, and Paul Kocher, president, Cryptography Research Inc., San Francisco. Gilmore, a computer-privacy expert who helped found the crypto-advocacy group Cyperpunks, and Kocher, whose research team consults on cryptographic solutions for corporate clients, made news this year when they broke the federal government's data-scrambling code in 56 hours using a homemade supercomputer. The breakthrough was the result of a competition sponsored by RSA Data Security Inc. Lucy A. Suchman, researcher, Xerox Corp.'s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), Palo Alto, Calif. Head of the work practice and technology area in PARC's systems and practices laboratory, Suchman's research team of anthropologists, artificial-intelligence experts, and computer scientists studies the relationship of everyday working practices to computer-systems design. She also is a founding member of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility Inc. Jacqueline K. Barton, professor of chemistry, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. A pioneering scientist, Barton is a leader in DNA research. The first woman to serve on the board of Dow Chemical Co., she was chosen by the Clinton Administration to be a member of the Commission on the Future of the National Science Foundation and is the 1998 winner of the Weizmann Women & Science Award. Yung S. Liu, physicist, General Electric Research & Development Center, Schenectady, N.Y. Recipient of 21 patents, Liu served as manager of a Defense Advance Research Projects Agency program called POINT (Polymer Optical Interconnect Technology), in which critical optoelectronic processing and packaging technologies for short-distance fiber-optic data communication were developed and demonstrated. Liu recently was named a fellow of the Optical Society of America. Charles H. Bennett, IBM Corp.'s Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Hts., N.Y. Recently elected a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, Bennett is recognized worldwide for his contributions to developing an understanding of the relationship of physics to computation and communication. In addition, working with Gilles Brassard of the Universit de Montreal, he invented quantum cryptography, a method for protecting secret messages from eavesdropping. Robert Furchgott, State University of New York, Brooklyn; Louis Ignarro, University of California at Los Angeles; and Ferid Murad, University of Texas Medical School, Houston. Discovery of how nitric oxide affects a wide range of actions within the body won the three pharmacologists the 1998 Nobel Prize for medicine. Their research has resulted in new treatments for heart and lung diseases and impotence, including Ignarro's work that led to the development of Viagra as an anti-impotency drug. Pamela Meyer Lopker, founder, chairman, and president, QAD Inc., Carpinteria, Calif. A 1997 inductee into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame, Lopker is the technology visionary of QAD, a producer of enterprise-resource-planning software, which she founded in 1979 at the age of 25. Lopker directs the global research-and-development efforts of the company and was the force behind QAD's 2006 Project that offers an introduction to the Internet to elementary-school students in the Santa Barbara, Calif., area. Rathin Datta, scientist, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Ill. Datta helped create Argonne's new technology for producing an environmentally benign industrial solvent that has been recognized with a Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award, as well as Discover magazine's environmental technology of the year award. Datta and his research team have found a way to reduce the cost of ethyl lactate by using a new advanced membrane system that avoids the production of wastes and improves reaction efficiency. Bruno Murari, director, STMicroelectronics' Castelleto Research & Development Laboratories, Cornaredo, Italy. Murari, considered an expert in analog-circuit design, has helped create a series of unique semiconductor processes that allowed STMicroelectronics to become the top analog-chip maker in the world last year. He oversees technical activities at other STMicroelectronics design centers worldwide and has personally designed 10 integrated circuits and supervised the design of another 1,000. Pierre Chambon, director of the Institute of Genetics & Molecular & Cellular Biology, Strasbourg, France. The 1998 recipient of the Welch Award in Chemistry, which recognizes outstanding contributions to chemistry for the betterment of humankind, Chambon pioneered the study of many fundamental aspects of heredity in higher organisms. His work has contributed to the knowledge of normal embryonic development and cell differentiation and has led to breakthroughs in the treatment of disease. Harvey E. Cline, physicist, General Electric Research & Development Center, Schenectady, N.Y. Cline recently surpassed the 150-patent mark, placing him with only three other researchers to reach that milestone in GE's 100-plus-year history. Cline's current projects include producing diagnostic-quality 3-D images of human coronary arteries from magnetic-resonance scan data and an algorithm called "marching cubes," recently recognized as one of the 50 most important contributions to the computer-graphics industry. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. Collins oversees the government-sponsored project to map and sequence the human genome, a 15-year effort that is slated for completion by the year 2005. Collins' efforts in analyzing human genetics inheritance in its molecular detail have contributed to a better understanding of the link between genetic mutations and human disease. For his work Collins has been named the recipient of the first Assn. for Medical Pathology Award for Excellence in Molecular Diagnostics. Kathleen Dahlgren, cofounder and president, InQuizit Technologies, Santa Monica, Calif., and Edward Stabler Jr., InQuizit cofounder and professor of computational linguistics, University of California at Los Angeles. Together Dahlgren and Stabler developed InQuizit, a natural-language software that allows English-speaking users to make queries of databases, including Internet and World Wide Web searches. The U.S. Army is among users of the software that understands meaning and context of language, thus allowing users to retrieve exactly the information requested. Shawn Lin and Jim Fleming, researchers, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N. Mex. The scientists have created a photonic lattice, a Lincoln Log-like structure that will improve infrared and optical communications including, potentially, optical computers. The improvement, which bends more light in less space and at considerably less cost than current methods, will make possible tinier, cheaper, and more effective waveguides to combine or separate optical frequencies. Applications include data transmission and more compact and efficient sensors. Nancy Ho, molecular geneticist, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. Ho has modified the genes of a genetically engineered yeast, Saccharomyces, so that the tiny organism can convert more of the sugars found in plant matter into ethanol. The engineered yeast produces at least 30% more ethanol from a given amount of plant material than any other unmodified yeast. When burned, ethanol produces less air pollution and greenhouse gases than gasoline. Arnold J. Levine, president, Rockefeller University, New York. A cancer biologist and one of the world's leading authorities on the molecular basis of cancer, Levine assumed the presidency of Rockefeller University this year. As a researcher at Princeton University, Levine discovered the p53 tumor suppresser protein, which is implicated in 50% of all cancers. In 1996 Levine headed a massive review of the National Institutes of Health AIDS program. Anita Borg, computer scientist, Office of the Chief Technologist, Xerox Corp.'s Palo Alto Research Center, Palo Alto, Calif. Borg's experience in running the "Systers" mailing list, a forum for women in the computing field, led her to work in e-mail communication. At Xerox's Network Systems Laboratory she developed MECCA, an e-mail and World Wide Web-based system for communicating in virtual communities. Borg, a Women in Technology International Hall of Fame inductee, also is founding director of the Institute for Women & Technology, an organization focused on increasing the impact of women on technology and the positive impact of technology on women. Patricia D. Murphy, Antonette C. Allen, Christopher P. Alvares, Brenda S. Critz, Sheri J. Olson, Denise Schelter Thurber, and Bin Zeng, researchers, Oncormed Inc., Gaithersburg, Md. In a significant advancement in the fight against breast and ovarian cancer, the scientists have identified the version of the human BRCA1 gene, found in about half of the healthy population, that provides a standard against which disease-causing changes can be measured. In addition, the discovery makes it possible to identify women who may be at increased risk to develop breast and ovarian cancer because of an inherited alteration in their BRCA1 gene. The Oncormed researchers have been named 1998 National Inventors of the Year by the Intellectual Property Owners Assn. Frank Peter, engineer, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N. Mex. Peter designed the Recodable Locking Device, a computer-security device that uses microelectromechanical system technology so small that it takes a microscope to see it. The innovation, which Sandia calls the "world's smallest combination lock," promises to lead to a virtually impenetrable computer firewall that relies on hardware rather than software to foil hackers. Joel Schwartz, associate professor, Harvard School of Public Health, Cambridge, Mass. An epidemiologist, Schwartz has used statistical techniques to find ties between fine combustion particles and premature death. His research contributed significantly to the new EPA regulation that seeks to reduce levels of microscopic particles measuring 2.5 microns or less in diameter. During a stint at the EPA in the 1980s, Schwartz became the first federal career employee to receive a MacArthur "genius grant." Steve Payne, associate program leader in laser science and technology, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, Calif. Payne was recently recognized for his work in next-generation laser technology by the American Physical Society and Fusion Power Associates, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development of fusion power. Payne and his colleagues at Livermore have developed a fusion laser that uses laser diode arrays in place of flashlamps, laser crystals instead of glass, and near-sonic gas coolant. Stephen Forrest, chairman, Dept. of Electrical Engineering, and Paul Burrows, senior research scholar, Center for Photonics & Optoelectronic Materials, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.; and Mark Thompson, associate professor of chemistry, University of Southern California, formerly of Princeton. The group of inventors received a patent for their work at Princeton on flat-panel displays. Their breakthrough is based on the concept of placing red, green, and blue subpixels in a vertical stack, thus requiring one-third the usual space and producing three times greater resolution. For their work the researchers won the Intellectual Property Owners Assn.'s 1998 Distinguished Inventor Award. Peter H. Raven, director, Missouri Botanical Garden, and professor of botany, Washington University, St. Louis. Raven is active internationally in science policy issues, particularly conservation and the need for a transition to global sustainability. He has transformed the Missouri Botanical Garden into an international center on biodiversity research and is forging partnerships with corporations that he believes recognize their stake in the preservation of the earth's resources. He has held both Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundation fellowships.

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