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New IBM Ph.D. Fellowships and Faculty Awards honor K. Alex Müller and other legendary IBM employees

Prestigious awards promote innovation and diversity, honor exceptional careers and achievements of IBM Research & Development leaders

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ARMONK, NY, USA, and Zurich, Switzerland — 13 Nov 2008: IBM (NYSE: IBM) has announced prestigious new Ph.D. Fellowships and Faculty Awards created to honor K. Alex Müller and other past famed IBM research and development leaders. The new programs are designed to put greater focus on nurturing technical talent and fostering innovation among women and diversity groups worldwide.

The Alex Müller IBM Ph.D. Fellowship is bestowed onto an exceptional Ph.D. student from a growth market country with special focus on discovery and innovation. It honors K. Alex Müller, who together with J. Georg Bednorz, received the 1987 Nobel Prize in Physics for their breakthrough discovery of high-temperature superconductivitiy in ceramic materials.

K. Alex Müller received his Ph.D. in physics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in 1958. After spending five years at the Battelle Institute in Geneva as a project manager, he joined IBM Research - Zurich (ZRL) in 1963, where he continued to work in solid-state physics. The University of Zurich appointed him lecturer in 1962, titular professor in 1970, and professor in 1987. He is the author of more than 400 technical publications. K. Alex Müller was manager of the physics department at ZRL from 1972 to 1985. He was named an IBM Fellow in 1982. From 1992 to 1998, he continued his relationship with IBM Research as an IBM Fellow Emeritus. Since then, he has devoted his time fully to basic research in structural phase transitions, critical and multicritical phenomena, as well as the behavior of ferroelectrica at low temperatures. His work focuses on understanding the fundamental processes that lead to high-temperature superconductivity. Various groups of experimentalists worldwide are collaborating with him. K. Alex Müller has also become increasingly interested in the philosophical questions related to the present and future.

The other new awards include:

  • Pat Selinger IBM Ph.D. Fellowship: awarded to an exceptional female Ph.D. student worldwide with special focus on database design and management
  • Harry Cochrane/Cal Waite IBM Ph.D. Fellowship or Assistantship: awarded to an exceptional black Ph.D. student worldwide
  • John Backus Faculty Award: awarded to an outstanding faculty member pursuing new innovations in computer science

"IBM's commitment to a culture of diversity and inclusiveness is an essential part of attracting and retaining the best talent, and is reflected in our focus in this year's new awards in support of top Ph.D. students and faculty," said Jai Menon, vice president of technical strategy and university programs at IBM. "We look to the brainpower inside university institutions to be our allies in innovation, and we hope these awards inspire future nominations from faculty who share and value IBM's diversity spirit."

Additional Background on Award Honorees and Programs

Pat Selinger IBM Ph.D. Fellowship

Dr. Pat Selinger was a leading member of the IBM Research team that produced the world's first relational database system and established the basic architecture for the highly successful IBM DB2 database product family. Her innovative work on cost-based query optimization for relational databases has been adopted by nearly all relational database vendors and is now taught in virtually every university database course. In 1994, Dr. Selinger was named an IBM Fellow — an honor accorded only to the top 50 technical experts in IBM — and in 2004, she was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame.

Harry Cochrane/Cal Waite IBM Ph.D. Fellowship or Assistantship

Harry W. Cochrane was hired by the IBM Poughkeepsie Data Processing business unit in 1952 as the first black engineer in the IBM Corporation. He produced several technical patents for IBM during his career as an engineer, including a core matrix calculator and binary matrix multiplier. Calvin L. Waite was hired by IBM in 1953 as a development engineer and was assigned to M.I.T. Lincoln Laboratory to work on the development of the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment system for radar defense of the eastern seacoast. He then was named manager of the Environment Test Laboratory for the IBM Federal Systems division where he received the distinction of being IBM's first black engineering manager. Cal also has lived a life of public service, serving as chair of the Duchess County (N.Y.) Civil Rights Commission, and after retiring from IBM, he was elected Mayor of Oberlin, Ohio.

John W. Backus Faculty Award

John W. Backus is the father of Fortran, the first widely used high-level programming language, which revolutionized computer programming and continues in use today for scientific computing. He also invented the Backus-Naur Form, the first formal technique for specifying the syntax of programming languages. He was named an IBM Fellow in 1963 and was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1975.

IBM LA Grid Student Scholars Ph.D. Assistantship and IBM LA Grid International Student Scholars Ph.D. Assistantship

IBM's LA Grid Student Scholars Ph.D. Assistantships are part of the IBM LA Grid Student Scholars Program, which is solely focused on the development of student scientists from diverse backgrounds. Member students get access to a set of seminars covering technology and professional development workshops, and most importantly, it provides select students with mentoring by IBM executives and professionals. The LA (Latin American) Grid is an international multi-disciplinary research community and virtual computing grid enabling institutions and industry to facilitate collaborative IT research, education and workforce development. Its primary objective is the leverage of collaborative research to drive the development of computer scientists from underrepresented populations towards increasing the diversity in our workforce. The LA Grid consortium consists of 10 universities and two supercomputing centers across four countries collaborating with four IBM Research labs and numerous IBM employees.

More information about IBM's University Programs and Academic Initiative is available at www.ibm.com/press/academic or at www.ibm.com/university.

Press contact

Nicole Strachowski
Media Relations
IBM Research - Zurich
Tel +41 44 724 84 45

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