James J. Wynne
Dr. James J. Wynne Russ Prize
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  • Russ
Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize
Go To Award

Dr. Wynne is a senior member of the staff of IBM Research Headquarters. He manages the T. J. Watson Research Center's outreach to local schools and coordinates IBM’s global participation in Engineers Week, serving as a catalyst to marshal the resources of IBM to enhance the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education of K-12 students.

Dr. Wynne was raised in New York, earned a B. A. in physics in 1964 and a Ph. D. in applied physics in 1969 from Harvard University, and subsequently has spent his entire career with IBM Research. Prior to assuming his current position, he pursued a program of scientific research and management in the areas of laser science, medical applications of lasers, neuroscience, and chemical physics. His research contributions have been in nonlinear optics of semiconductors and insulators, nonlinear spectroscopy of atomic and molecular vapors, laser etching and fluorescence studies of human and animal tissue, and cluster science. He has held a number of scientific management positions, including manager of Nonlinear Spectroscopy, Laser Physics and Chemistry, and Biological and Molecular Science.

Dr. Wynne and two IBM colleagues discovered excimer laser surgery in 1981. Their discovery laid the foundation for the development of techniques for changing the shape of the human cornea, thereby surgically correcting the common vision abnormalities of myopia, astigmatism, and hyperopia. Two such techniques, LASIK (laser in-situ keratomeliusus) and PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) are widely practiced throughout the world, having improved the vision of more than 25 million people. For their discovery, Dr. Wynne and his colleagues were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) in 2002, won the R. W. Wood Prize of the Optical Society of America (OSA) in 2004, and were awarded the Rank Prize for Opto-Electronics in 2010. Dr. Wynne is currently working on a “smart scalpel,” an application of excimer lasers to debride necrotic lesions of skin, including burn eschar, without causing collateral damage.

Dr. Wynne is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), a Fellow of the OSA, a member of the IEEE, and a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers. He has served as a member of the APS Council, representing the Forum on Education, which he helped to create. He has served on the APS Committee on Education, chairing that committee for one year. He has served as a member of the OSA Board of Directors and the OSA Education Council. He has served on numerous boards and committees of the National Research Council.

Dr. Wynne believes that his professional community of scientists and engineers must be   involved with the scientific, mathematical, and technical education of young people. Technical literacy is a necessary tool for meeting the requirements of being an effective citizen in a technologically complex world. The professional community needs an educated citizenry to understand and support its scientific pursuits and certainly needs a technically trained pool of young adults to provide a viable source of new members for the community.


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  • Russ
  • 2013
  • For the development of laser ablative photodecomposition, enabling LASIK and PRK eye surgery.