Jefferson Project Director Awarded High Honor from IBM

This story appeared in The Lake George Mirror.

Dr. Harry Kolar, the IBM engineer who serves as one of three directors of the Jefferson Project, is now among the select few to have been named an IBM Fellow.

This year’s class, consisting of eight high-achievers working in a range of fields, from Artificial Intelligence to semiconductor research, was announced in April.

According to IBM, the title “is the company’s pre-eminent technical distinction, granted in recognition of outstanding and sustained technical achievements and leadership in engineering, programming, services, science, design and technology.”

IBM Fellows have included a Kyoto Prize winner, a U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom winner, five Turing Award winners and five Nobel Prize winners.

Collectively, they have fostered some of the company’s most stunning technical breakthroughs—from the Fortran computing language to the systems that helped put the first man on the moon to the Scanning Tunneling Microscope, the first instrument to image atoms,” IBM stated.

To be named an IBM Fellow “is a very great honor, obviously,” said Kolar. 

While the honor recognizes the achievements of a career, Kolar was named an IBM Fellow in no small part because of his work on the Jefferson Project, the collaborative effort of IBM, RPI and The Fund for Lake George to use technology, science and science-based policy to help preserve Lake George.

The honor is for a body of work, but that body of work culminated in the Jefferson Project here on Lake George,” said Kolar. “I’ve worked on many projects, from the Hudson River to Ireland’s Galway Bay, but none of them were of this size, scale and sophistication.”

Five years into the project, Kolar and his team of computer scientists, engineers and atmospheric physicists (and a mathematician, a marine biologist and a limnologist as well) are “making significant progress” in acquiring actionable intelligence about such things as the spread of invasives and contaminants through the lake, nutrients and their impacts on the food web and the sources of salt and runoff, among other things.

Lake George is a living laboratory for us,” said Kolar, explaining that the Jefferson Project’s technological advances are not only helping protect Lake George, they’re poised to contribute to the solution of environmental problems around the world.

For instance, we feel we have a lot to offer right here, helping New York State address Harmful Algal Blooms, a $60 million initiative that includes Lake George. Unlike Lake George, most lakes have not been monitored well or consistently, and with our sensor networks, we can transfer that capability to other fresh water lakes. But the sensor network is just one piece. Another piece is computer modeling. It’s one thing to identify a Harmful Algal Bloom, it’s another thing to understand the conditions that led to it. That’s complex. But we can take a lake and show how it will react to nutrients over time and across temperatures in order to understand how Harmful Algal Blooms might originate,” said Kolar.

Kolar will discuss the Jefferson Project’s latest technological advances at The Fund for Lake George’s annual meeting, which will be held this year on July 7 at the Sagamore. 

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