Our People

Curtis R. Carlson

President and Chief Executive Officer
Curtis R. Calson

Curtis R. Carlson, Ph.D., became president and CEO of SRI International in December 1998. Previously, he spent more than 20 years with Sarnoff Corporation, an SRI subsidiary that was fully integrated into SRI in 2011.

In 1973, Carlson joined RCA Laboratories, which became part of SRI in 1987 as Sarnoff Corporation. He started and helped lead the high-definition television (HDTV) program that became the U.S. standard, and in 1997 his team won an Emmy Award for outstanding technical achievement. In 2000, another team started and led by Carlson won an Emmy for a system to optimize satellite broadcast image quality. He helped found more than 12 companies.

Carlson is widely sought as a speaker and thought leader on innovation and global competitiveness. He serves on the National Academy of Engineering Committee on Manufacturing, Design, and Innovation, and is a council member on the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable (a joint body of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine). He serves as co-chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Singapore National Research Foundation. He is a founding member of the Innovation Leadership Council for the World Economic Forum and was selected to serve on President Obama's National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He advises U.S. governors and prime ministers, economic ministers, and education ministers around the world on innovation, competitiveness, and educational reform.

In 2006, Carlson won the Otto Schade Prize for Display Performance and Image Quality from the Society for Information Display with Roger Cohen. In 2007, Carlson was given the Medal of Excellence Award by Rutgers University's School of Engineering. In 2002, he received the Dr. Robert H. Goddard Award from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) for his professional achievements. In 2012, he was named a Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

He has received honorary degrees from Stevens Institute of Technology, Kettering University, and WPI, where he is also a trustee. He was a visiting distinguished scientist at the University of Washington in 1998, and he is a Kobe ambassador for SRI's contributions to Kobe, Japan.

Carlson has been on numerous boards, including Nuance Communications, Pyramid Vision, Sensar, and Sarif. He was a member of General Motors' Science and Technology Advisory Board. He has served on numerous government task forces, including the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, National Research Laboratory Review Panels, the Galvin Naval Research Laboratory Review Panel, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory Technical Assessment Board, and the Defense Science Board task force on bio-chemical defense. He was a member of the original team that helped create the Army's Federated Laboratories.

He wrote a book with William Wilmot called Innovation: The Five Disciplines for Creating What Customers Want, published by Random House. It was selected by BusinessWeek as one of the top 10 business books for 2006. Innovation describes how SRI's unique process for innovation can be applied to all types of commercial and nonprofit enterprises, including the government.

Carlson received his B.S. degree in physics from WPI and was named in Who's Who Among Students. He is a member of Sigma Xi, and Tau Beta Pi. His M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are from Rutgers University. Carlson has published or presented numerous technical publications and holds fundamental patents in the fields of image quality, image coding, and computer vision.