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Uyi Stewart, Chief Scientist, IBM Research-Africa

By Richard Silberman, Writer/Researcher, IBM Communications

When Osamuyimen (Uyi) Stewart left his native Nigeria 23 years ago to attend graduate school at Cambridge University, computer science was still just a concept in Africa. Although Stewart had learned some programming languages in college, he had never actually used a computer to develop an application.

This year, Stewart will return to a very different Africa, moving his family to Nairobi, Kenya to serve as chief scientist at IBM Research-Africa, IBM’s first research lab on the continent. In his new role, which he officially started in August working from the T.J. Watson Research Center in New York, Stewart spearheads innovation for a vast emerging market that is rapidly growing and embracing new technologies.

For Stewart, who previously worked at the IBM Services Innovation Lab and was responsible for technical strategy and program management across eight global labs, his return to Africa is filled with meaning and emotion. Whereas a quarter century ago using an actual computer was just a dream, today Stewart leads development of advanced systems to help solve some of Africa’s most pressing challenges. Continue Reading »

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In the aftermath of the global financial crisis and the recovery from the worst American recession since the Great Depression, government leaders have learned that they need to do more, like make improvements to infrastructure, basic services and governmental programs, but with shrinking resources.

Municipal governments have the greatest direct impact on the lives of their constituents and no matter how tight the budget, citizens expect, and deserve, action.  So mayors have to think innovatively to accomplish goals, deliver services more efficiently and effectively and stimulate economic development.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter

Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter has not pared back his ambitious agenda despite reduced funding.  One major focus: access to a quality education, which he refers to as “the new civil rights fight.”  Mayor Nutter supports a number of creative initiatives designed to provide Philadelphians with educational opportunities and job skills to prepare them for the 21st century workforce.

Philadelphia is one of more than 60 cities worldwide that have participated in IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge program. IBM sends teams of six executives to participating cities to help them develop solutions to difficult problems. Nutter and other mayors have provided insights in to what it takes to transform cities. The lessons they learned are captured in a white paper, How to Reinvent a City.

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Steve Hamm, IBM Writer

By Steve Hamm

Patience is one of the most important virtues a researcher can possess, but some scientific pursuits require an almost preternatural calm in the face of monumental challenges. Case in point: quantum computing.

Scientists have been trying to grasp this holy grail of computing ever since Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman in 1981 challenged the scientific community to build computers based on quantum mechanics.  Matthias Steffen, the manager of an experimental quantum computing project at IBM Research, believes the key to persevering in a project like this is keeping an open mind. ” You can’t stubbornly keep pursuing a path because you’re invested in it personally,” he says. “Take a breather, and be open to making changes in your approach–potentially drastically”

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Dr. Lubomyr Romankiw, IBM Fellow in Electrochemical Technology, Micromagnetics and Microfabrication

By Richard Silberman, Writer/Researcher, IBM Communications

Without Lubomyr Romankiw, building a smarter planet would be much more difficult, if not impossible. Personal computers, smart phones, digital cameras and DVRs may have taken much longer to become a reality. ATMs, the Internet, Blue Gene and cloud computing might still be far off fantasies.

The world as we know and enjoy it today – with its ubiquitous computers and data-storing devices – is almost unimaginable without the magnetic thin-film disk storage technology and the read-and-write magnetic head that Dr. Romankiw and Dr. David A. Thompson invented at IBM 40 years ago.

The thin-film magnetic recording head is the tiny component that reads and writes data in virtually every disk-based storage device made since 1979. Before Dr. Romankiw’s inventions of thin-film heads and the processing technology to fabricate them, data storage for even the most cutting-edge computers was cumbersome, slow and expensive.

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Kathleen Ryan, Writer, IBM Communications

By Kathleen Ryan

Universal Product Codes (UPCs) are part of our everyday lives. Whether we’re checking out groceries at the supermarket, getting medicine from the pharmacy, or shipping a package, the bar code and scanner are standard technologies for capturing and registering pricing and other retail information.

But it wasn’t always this way. Before bar codes, the process of pricing was laborious, time consuming and a drain on resources. Prices were placed on individual products by hand, usually with the thump of a price “stamper,” and then read by a cashier who then tapped the price into the cash register, by hand. Weekly price changes started the process all over again.

That all changed in June of 1974 when a clerk scanned a pack of Wrigley’s gum at a supermarket in Troy, Ohio. The technology rapidly took hold and today it shows up on virtually every retail product. Today the non-profit governing body for bar codes says that uniform standards for UPC codes are used by more than one million companies around the world.

One of the pioneers of bar code technology, retired IBM employee N. Joseph Woodland, died this week. He was 91.
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Robert Waymouth, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry, Stanford University

By Richard Silberman, Writer/Researcher, IBM Communications

Robert Waymouth, Ph.D., maintains the sense of awe that he’s had since his earliest days as a chemist, savoring those “marvelous moments where it just takes your breath away, you can’t believe something worked like that.”

Waymouth, a professor of chemistry at Stanford University, had one such moment in 2004 when he and his grad students discovered a new way to make molecules using organic catalysts. That breakthrough, followed by years of research with colleague Jim Hedrick at IBM Research in Almaden, Calif., has yielded a process to make environmentally sustainable plastics that could lead to smarter recycling methods, a drastic reduction in plastics pollution and even a safer, more efficient way to administer drugs.
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Innovation and collaboration will be crucial to boosting jobs and economic competitiveness in the the coming years. A strong example of these levers at work is the just-announced IBM Center for Advanced Analytics in Columbus, Ohio. The new center, which is expected to employ 500 people within three years, will focus on research, product development, client services and skills training in the areas of Big Data, analytics, and cognitive computing. IBM is collaborating with Ohio State University to develop new business and technology curricula to help students and mid-career professionals prepare for the high-value jobs of the future. Ohio officials hope what the center will help foster entrepreneurship and new business initiatives.

Here’s U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown for Ohio talking about his belief that innovation will accelerate economic growth in his state:

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IBM Research scientist Bruno Michel is a classic intellectual omnivore, with scientific interests ranging from semiconductors and computer system design to solar energy, biology and water cooling systems. His interests are just as varied in his non-professional life. He’s a serious tap dancer, a long distance hiker and a ski touring fanatic. In fact, his trips into the Swiss alps near his home in Zurich created a bridge between his personal and professional lives. Over years of repeatedly visiting glaciers in the mountains, he has seen firsthand the effects of global warming. The glaciers are shrinking. And fast. His quest as a scientist is to find ways to use less energy in computing. Here’s a video profile in which Bruno describes his career path, his motivations and some of  his ideas for saving the planet.

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Linda Sanford, IBM Senior Vice President, Enterprise Transformation

By Linda Sanford

Over the past decade, IBM has taken a systematic approach to transformation and has dramatically reshaped the company.

Since I’ve been helping lead that effort, I’m often asked by clients for advice on how to transform successfully. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but there are a few things that most organizations can start doing to create a smarter enterprise. It all starts with creating a movement.

Create a movement. In the age of the social network, employees expect to be part of the process. Mandates from the top aren’t sufficient. Continue Reading »

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November 1st, 2012
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Charlotte Davies, Crime Analyst, Environmental Investigation Agency

By Charlotte Davies

From tracking the illegal trading of ozone-depleting substances, to helping law enforcement agencies stop the trade of endangered big cats in Asia, data analytics increasingly is being used to fight environmental crime. Much like organized crime, environmental crime can be localized or global. Left unchecked, it can threaten biodiversity and species’ survival on a global level. 

Part of my mission as a crime analyst is to assist the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) in protecting the last of Asia’s endangered big cats — including the tiger, leopard, snow leopard and clouded leopard — which currently face various threats including habitat degradation, prey decline and poaching for their skin and bones. Using data analytics, my ability to track the illegal trade is now easier.

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