Alumni Hall of Fame 2008 | SRI International

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Alumni Hall of Fame 2008

David M. Golden

Dave Golden came to SRI in 1963 to work with Sid Benson on thermochemical kinetics and very low-pressure pyrolysis techniques. He began by helping to actually construct their labs from some idle space in the basement of Building 1, as it was known then, and when he left SRI in 1998, he was known internationally as a leader in applying chemical kinetics to the protection of the atmosphere. His career at SRI included a series of increasing leadership roles. He became director of the Thermochemical Kinetics group in 1976. He built up the group whose work attracted both international recognition and strong projects that were a vital part of SRI’s science programs. He was director of the Chemistry Laboratory beginning in 1988, followed by promotion to the Vice Presidency of Physical Sciences in 1991.

Although Dave Golden always had a passion for fundamental chemical kinetics research, he also had a keen eye for the practical. Shortly after the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole, it was proposed that chlorine activation on polar stratospheric clouds could be a key step in the ozone loss mechanism. He immediately realized that his group at SRI could make an important contribution by measuring the kinetics of chlorine-nitrate reactions on ice surfaces representative of polar stratospheric clouds. Bringing together researchers from various laboratories, including Maggie Tolbert, Michel Rossi and Ripu Malhotra, and with only internal SRI funding to keep things going, Dave Golden coordinated experiments using a Knudsen cell reactor, which showed that, indeed, chlorine reacted readily with nitrates on ice surfaces under polar stratospheric conditions to form gaseous chlorine and condensed nitric acid. The gaseous chlorine was then poised to destroy ozone when sunlight returned in the Austral spring. This work represented an important link in unraveling how the Antarctic ozone hole is formed.

The paper on this work shared the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Award for the best paper in Science for 1987-1988 with a paper on a similar subject by the 1995 Nobel Prize winner Mario Molina and coworkers.

For 35 years at SRI, Dave Golden was a leader in advancing thermochemical research while recruiting and mentoring others to advance that knowledge even further. These scientists carried SRI’s reputation throughout the world. Dave Golden made a lasting contribution to SRI in the number of people who grew professionally under his leadership. He left SRI the legacy of a strong reputation for applying basic science to real world problems and a continuing chain of scientists who train new scientists all over the world.

Ken-ichi Inouye

Ken-ichi Inouye joined SRI Japan in August 1980, in the early years of this office, as a business development manager. Since he came from Hokushin Electric, the third largest instrument manufacturer in Japan at that time, the projects he developed mostly contributed to the revenue of the Advanced Technology Division, the commercial sector of the Engineering Group. The projects he sold were unusually large, such as an early commercial project he developed for $3 million.

Ken Inouye had the skills needed to make prospective clients rely on the quality of the innovative technologies developed by SRI. He built up firm and continuing relationships with many major Japanese manufacturers. His most notable contribution to SRI was building a firm business relation between SRI and the Japanese electric appliances/electronic devices industry including companies such as Panasonic, Toshiba, and Sharp. Through his efforts, managers of many Japanese companies in this industry drew on the research capabilities of SRI, and they are still bringing many repeated projects to SRI today, even after Inouye’s retirement. That is one of his lasting contributions to SRI.

Another of Ken Inouye’s lasting contributions to SRI was his ability to bring license fee benefits to SRI based on technology development projects. For example, SRI still receives license fee revenue from the PCB removal technology by thermal cracking, which was developed for and transferred to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

When the David Sarnoff Research Center joined SRI, Ken Inouye organized seminars to present Sarnoff’s capability by bringing speakers to many prospective clients, together with visual panels that demonstrated Sarnoff’s activity. These seminars resulted in appreciable sales of Sarnoff projects to Japanese industry. Sharp was one of the clients that awarded large contracts for many years. Because of the success of these seminars, SRI Japan still relies on the seminar arrangement as a powerful tool for promotion.

These continued strong relations with Japanese industry, the continued benefits of licensing fees, and innovative marketing techniques constitute Ken Inouye’s legacy to SRI.

Kinney Thiele

For well over a decade, the voice an inquiring person heard when calling SRI was that of Kinney Thiele. Her professional manner and her encyclopedic knowledge of SRI gave the outside world an assurance that their needs were being met as well as they could be. 

Kinney Thiele came to SRI as a secretary in 1976 and, except for a two and one-half year stint in the Peace Corps, remained at SRI nearly thirty years.  During that time, she continually sought new challenges and progressed through ten title changes and levels of responsibility that ultimately gave her extensive knowledge of SRI. Notable in that growth were important contributing roles such as coordinating the clients of SRI’s successful Decision Analysis Group. 

Kinney Thiele parlayed her love for Africa, developed in the Peace Corps, to materially assist SRI’s largest African project, which trained personnel of the copper mines of Zambia.  With great sensitivity and compassion, she helped many African trainees feel welcome here in Menlo Park.

Above all else was the helpful image of SRI Kinney Thiele gave to the outside world on the Inquiry Line. She respectfully thought of all callers as potential customers and worked smoothly to connect them with appropriate SRI staff. She was an ideal person for this role because she knew virtually all the projects and key people at SRI, including many of their skills and their experience base. Combining her respectful attitude with her wide knowledge, she successfully conveyed untold contract opportunities to SRI staff.

As recounted by a staff member, here is the epitome of Kinney Thiele’s skill. The inquiry went something like this: “Three or four months ago, I met a gray haired gentleman from SRI on a plane from London to San Francisco.  I have lost his card but need to speak to him urgently.  He was on his way home from someplace in Africa.”  Within minutes, a connection was made; in three weeks, the SRI staff member was on a plane to Kazakhstan. From this vague telephone inquiry, SRI won a $1.2 million contract. 

For this notable role and for representing SRI so well to so many, Kinney Thiele is well deserving of this election into the SRI Alumni Hall of Fame.

Peter E. Hart

During the fifteen years Peter Hart was at SRI International, the last several of which he was head of the Artificial Intelligence Center, he provided research leadership while making fundamental contributions to the fields of pattern recognition, machine vision, and artificial intelligence.

Peter Hart’s early research at SRI, with Dick Duda, led to the world’s first use of context in optical character recognition and to the development of one of the most widely used algorithms in image analysis. Their book, Pattern Classification and Scene Analysis, is the ninth most-cited reference in the field of computer science.

Peter Hart led the Shakey robot project (started by Charlie Rosen in 1966) during its peak performance years in the early 1970s. He co-invented (with Nils Nilsson and Bert Raphael) the A* route-finding algorithm that is used in all of today’s automobile-based and web-based navigation systems as well as in video game software. A Shakey paper he co-authored with Nils Nilsson and Rich Fikes has been described as the most republished paper in the history of artificial intelligence.

Peter Hart is a Fellow of the IEEE, the ACM, the AAAI, and the Rensselaer Alumni Society. CiteseerX reports over 6,000 citations of his work, apparently among the most of any party or current SRI computer scientist.

In the late 1970s, Peter Hart spearheaded the development of the PROSPECTOR system for mineral exploration. This was the world’s first expert system with proven performance on an economically important problem, and it launched expert systems as a commercial activity.

On the Federal science policy front, Peter Hart served as an advisor to the Under Secretary of Defense, the Director of Central Intelligence, the Administrator of NASA, and the Commander-in-Chief of the Strategic Air Command.

After leaving SRI, Peter Hart went on to co-found four companies and to direct two research centers, but his contributions while at SRI greatly enhanced the reputation of SRI and paved the way for the continuing excellence and renown of its Artificial Intelligence Center.

Bob Dehn

Bob Dehn, Marketing Director for Biosciences, combined his market understanding and insight to team with SRI research leaders in creating a new, vital, and sustaining business model for Biosciences and SRI at large. His leadership resulted in important new programs for every SRI division, strategic partnerships that provided access to new markets and a new source of intellectual property, and new ways of doing business that are a lasting contribution for SRI.

Bob Dehn’s knowledge of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), especially during the NIH budget doubling from 1999 to 2004, had every division at SRI interested in entering that market. He worked one-on-one and through his leadership of the NIH Initiative (one of the most successful institute-level investment programs in SRI’s history) to help all those eager to explore possibilities. He was the first to see the opportunity, lead an SRI-wide group to conduct an aggressive and proactive marketing campaign, and form a series of strategic partnerships. These partnerships were a major divergence from our past teaming when we would simply wait for a small business to approach us. His careful market analysis showed a series of very large opportunities where we could team with others in markets we had never entered before to gain research dollars as well as intellectual property.

The results were astounding. While NIH’s budget grew two-fold, Biosciences grew three-fold. Their growth was not only in grants—the traditional backbone of Biosciences—but in major contract work. This change in portfolio mix and business model had lasting effects for profitability and growth. Not only did his leadership benefit Biosciences, Bob Dehn was also successful in getting NIH research projects for the Engineering Science Division, Policy, the Information and Computer Science Division, and the Physical Sciences Division. By being proactive and targeted, SRI won work and formed partnerships that 10 years later are still productive.

Bob Dehn helped bring Biosciences to the forefront of biodefense research, which not only added research dollars, but also brought NIH funding for the construction of animal facilities and new microbiology laboratories. He was instrumental in adding new research areas, such as vaccine research, which now supports a vigorous new SRI vaccine research group focused on infectious disease.

Bob Dehn’s market understanding and vision along with significant business acumen have indeed resulted in lasting contributions to the success of SRI.