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ORC Director Elected As Marconi Society Chairman

Published: 2 February 2011

ORC Director, Professor David  Payne, has been elected Chairman of the Board of the Marconi Society.  He succeeds Dr. Robert W. Lucky, a former Bell Labs scientist and inventor of the automatically adaptive equalizer.

The Marconi Society was established in 1974 through an endowment set up by Gioia Marconi Braga, daughter of Guglielmo Marconi, the Nobel laureate who invented radio (wireless telegraphy). It is best known for the Marconi Prize, awarded annually to an outstanding individual or individuals whose work and influence in communications and information science emulates the principle of “creativity in service to humanity” that inspired Marconi.  The Society also promotes awareness of major innovations in communications theory, technology and applications through symposia, conferences, forums and publications, as well as through annual “Young Scholar” awards.

Professor Payne received the 2008 Marconi Prize for his work in developing the erbium-doped optical fiber amplifier. Other recent winners have included Bell Labs scientists Andrew Chraplyvy and Robert Tkach for their work on optical fiber communication systems; Professor Ron Rivest of MIT for his work developing the world’s most widely used public key encryption system; Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page; Stanford Professor John Cioffi for his invention of the modern high speed modem that enabled DSL; and Claude Berrou, for his invention of turbo codes. Last year, the prize went to Chuck Geschke and John Warnock, the founders of Adobe Systems, for work that fundamentally transformed the world of digital printing.

“It’s a great honor to be asked to lead the Marconi Society,” said Professor Payne.  “There’s never been a time when the field of communications and information science—both on the hardware and the software side—was of greater importance than it is now.  We are faced with great challenges, and I believe strongly in the importance of the Society’s work to encourage young scientists.”

For the past two years, in addition to serving on the Marconi Society Board, Professor Payne has served on the Young Scholars Selection Committee, which identifies outstanding graduate researchers in information and communications science for special recognition.

“We believe the Marconi Society can and should play a leading role in an international discussion on the problem of dwindling funding for long-term fundamental research that is critical to achieving breakthrough advances,” said Professor Payne. “Under my leadership I hope to advance that goal.” 

Additional information about the Marconi Society and the Marconi Fellows can be found at 

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