IEEE Members Make Headlines: March 2016

This month members were featured in the news for their contributions to higher education, cryptography, and cancer research

28 March 2016

IEEE members frequently make news through their groundbreaking contributions to society. The past few weeks have been no exception.

Fellow Alan Finkel, Australia’s chief scientist, was featured in The Guardian. The article covered a speech he gave at a National Press Club event in Canberra on 2 March. There he discussed climate-change research and the barriers facing women in technology. He also talked about collaborating with policymakers on Australia’s new National Innovation and Science Agenda, a plan to invest federal funds in science education and research.

As chief scientist, Finkel is responsible for advising the government.

Life Fellow Martin Hellman is one of the recipients of this year’s A.M. Turing Award, the Association for Computing Machinery’s highest honor. The annual award comes with a US $1 million prize.

Hellman and Whitfield Diffie, who are cryptography pioneers, were honored for introducing the idea of public-key cryptography and digital signatures. Their seminal “New Directions in Cryptography” paper was published in 1976 in IEEE Transactions on Information Theory.

The concepts they introduced enable two parties to use encryption to communicate privately over an otherwise insecure channel. That facilitates secure online connections with banks, e-commerce sites, and e-mail servers, as well as other types of online transactions.

Hellman is professor emeritus in the electrical engineering department at Stanford. Diffie is former vice president of Sun Microsystems (now Oracle). The two shared the 2010 IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal “for the invention of public key cryptography and its application to secure communications.”

A new scholarship program at Stanford launched by Fellow John L. Hennessy received a $400 million donation from Philip H. Knight, cofounder and chair of Nike. Hennessy is president of Stanford.

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program aims to recruit graduate students to Stanford to address climate change, poverty, and other societal issues. Knight’s donation is one of the largest ever given to a university. Hennessy announced the program in late February, and it has received $750 million in donations so far, which includes Knight’s contribution.

Hennessy received the 2012 IEEE Medal of Honor “for pioneering the RISC processor architecture and for leadership in computer engineering and higher education.”

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