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July 14, 2003
The Georgia Institute of Technology announced today that it has named Ralph Merkle, an inventor of the encryption technology that allows secure transactions over the Internet, as director of the Georgia Tech Information Security Center (GTISC). Merkle is known for his seminal contributions to information security and nanotechnology.
Merkle will be joining the College of Computing faculty as Professor of Computing and director of GTISC, reporting to the Office of the Provost, effective September 8. Merkle fills the position currently held on an interim basis by Richard A. DeMillo, the Imlay Dean of the nationally ranked College of Computing.
"Ralph brings his undisputable expertise and worldwide name recognition in the field of information security, an important area of focus for Georgia Tech," said Jean-Lou Chameau, provost and vice-president for academic affairs. "His extensive research experience, credibility, and leadership will enhance GTISC's successes."
Merkle is widely recognized for his award-winning work in the field of cryptography as one of the co-founders of public-key cryptography. The New York Times said, "Dr. Ralph C. Merkle is celebrated as an inventor of the encryption technology that allows secure transactions over the Internet." More recently, he has focused in theemerging area of nanotechnology, also called molecular manufacturing, gaining a reputation for achievement in that field as well.
"Ralph Merkle, together with Martin Hellman and Whitfield Diffie, invented modern cryptography," said DeMillo. "Today there are millions of ordinary people -- internet users, cell phone subscribers, bank customers, soldiers in the battlefield -- who depend on Ralph's inventions for security and trust in cyberspace. He really provided the key insight that led to the explosion of security innovation that we see today. We are, needless to say, very excited that Ralph will be joining our community and leading information security research here at Georgia Tech."
"Ralph's selection is great news," said Christopher W. Klaus, founder and chief technology officer of Internet Security Systems. "It'll be a good time for him to bring leadership to GTISC and be a part of the next big security wave. I look forward to working with him."
Computers have exploded into every facet of our lives as never before. They shape what we know, what we can do, and what is done to us - and yet we cannot and do not trust them. That must change, and the time for that change has now come, said Merkle. "It is both an honor and a pleasure for me to return to my first loves of computer security and cryptography to help Georgia Tech play a pivotal role in this coming transformation."
Merkle comes to Georgia Tech from Zyvex LLC, a nanotechnology start-up company headquartered near Dallas, where as principal fellow he led the company's nanotechnology research efforts since 1999. During this time he kept up his interests in security by consulting with, among others, Xerox PARC, Securify, and various confidential clients.
From 1988 - 1999, Merkle pursued research in both computer security and computational nanotechnology as a research scientist at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). From 1980 - 1988, he was manager of compiler development at Elxsi Corporation, a Silicon Valley start-up company.
Merkle has published and spoken extensively and holds 11 patents. He holds the fundamental patents on many of the major technologies in cryptography and cryptographic protocols. Notable are his patents with Martin Hellman and Whitfield Diffie on public key distribution and public key cryptosystems.
Merkle has published extensively in such leading journals as IEEE Spectrum, MIT Technology Review, Nanotechnology, Journal of Cryptology, and Crypto. His influential books include "Secrecy, Authentication, and Public Key Systems," UMI Research Press (1982).
He was co-recipient of the 1998 Feynman Prize for Nanotechnology for Theory. For his security work he received the Association for Computing Machinery's (ACM) Kanellakis Award for Theory and Practice, the 2000 RSA Award in Mathematics and the Kobayashi Award of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
He served for many years as the executive editor of the journal Nanotechnology. He is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the American Chemical Society, the American Physical Society, and the IEEE. He sits on the Board of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation and serves as vice president for technology assessment at the Foresight Institute, a Palo Alto based non-profit focused on nanotechnology.
Dr. Merkle received his B.A. and M.S. degrees in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University.
The Georgia Tech Information Security Center, a National Security Agency (NSA) Center of Excellence in Information Assurance Education, conducts interdisciplinary research and development on all aspects of information security, including systems-vulnerability assessment, theory development, and public and organizational security policies. GTISC's three-pronged mission includes: conducting research that will lay the foundations for a discipline of information security and that contributes to the development and testing of systems, devices, strategies, policies, practical concepts, and techniques; educating and training information security professionals through degree and continuing-education programs, and to insure that information security awareness is instilled in all Georgia Tech students; and assisting industry, non-profit organizations, government, and individuals to solve information security problems through outreach programs and support of groups devoted to information security.
The interdisciplinary center is housed in the College of Computing and involves faculty from Computing, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, and the School of Public Policy.