October 19, 2007 11:14 ET

IBM Creates Ph.D. Fellowship Award in Honor of First Female Turing Award Winner Fran Allen

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY--(Marketwire - October 19, 2007) - IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced it has created a new Ph.D. Fellowship Award to honor Fran Allen, a pioneer in computer science.

Fran Allen is a leader in simplifying programming for high performance computing, making complex computer languages more accessible to the masses. She is the first female to receive the coveted A.M. Turing Award, which is considered the Nobel Prize of computer science. She is also the first female to earn IBM's highest technical honor -- IBM Fellow -- and has made mentoring students and colleagues in science and engineering a priority throughout her career.

"Fran is a tremendous inspiration to all scientists, engineers and mathematicians around the world," said Nick Donofrio, Executive Vice President, Innovation and Technology, IBM. "Her dedication to developing the next generation of technology leaders, and in particular to serving as a role model for female students, sets a new standard for mentors. We can all learn from her experience and her actions."

The first recipient of the Fran Allen Ph.D. Fellowship Award is Shawna Thomas, a student in Computer Science from Texas A&M University, who is studying robotic motion planning algorithms and their application to biology problems such as protein and RNA folding.

Ms. Thomas's selection for this award recognizes her outstanding technical accomplishments, as well as her commitment to mentoring and community-building.

The IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Award program is an intensely competitive program which honors exceptional Ph.D. students in many academic disciplines and areas of study, for example: computer science and engineering, electrical and mechanical engineering, physical sciences (including chemistry, material sciences, and physics), mathematical sciences (including optimization), business sciences (including financial services, communication, and learning/knowledge), and service sciences, management, and engineering.

"One thing I really enjoy about computer science is the ability to work with other fields like biology or chemistry. I really like learning about different areas of science and either model it or provide different tools to do their research," said Shawna Thomas, Fran Allen Ph.D. Fellowship Award winner. "In high school, I had an amazing computer science teacher who showed me that computer engineering wasn't just for boys."

The award was announced at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2007 on Thursday evening, October 18, in Orlando, Florida. The conference was chosen as the venue for the announcement because of their commitment to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. More than 1,400 technical women and men from 22 countries attended the event.

The prestigious award will be presented annually to a female Ph.D. student in conjunction with the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Award program and the student's university will receive an award to encourage female participation in computer science and engineering. The student will also receive a trip to the annual Grace Hopper Conference where she will be recognized.

Each year, the student will be assigned a "career mentor" from IBM and for the inaugural year it will be Fran Allen herself. The career mentor will also visit, and speak at, the student's campus. The student will be invited to present their research at an IBM Research site, and to interact with researchers in their discipline.

In February 2007, Fran Allen was named the recipient of the 2006 A.M. Turing Award for contributions that fundamentally improved the performance of computer programs in solving problems, and accelerated the use of high performance computing. The award marked the first time that a woman had received the honor.

Allen, an IBM Fellow Emerita at the T.J. Watson Research Center, made fundamental contributions to the theory and practice of program optimization, which translates the users' problem-solving language statements into more efficient sequences of computer instructions. Her work contributed to advances in the use of high performance computers for solving problems such as weather forecasting, DNA matching, and national security functions.

Her contributions also greatly extended earlier work in automatic program parallelization, which enables programs to use multiple processors simultaneously in order to obtain faster results. These techniques have made it possible to achieve high performance from computers while programming them in languages suitable to applications.

For more information about IBM's Ph.D. Fellowship Award program, please visit:

Contact Information

  • Press Contacts:

    Steven Tomasco
    IBM Media Relations
    Office: 914.945.1655
    Cell: 917.687.4588

    Pasha Ray Dahncke
    IBM Academic Innovation Initiatives
    Technology & Intellectual Property
    Office: 914-766-3389
    Cell: 646-342-4013