James J. (Jim) Wynne  James J. (Jim) Wynne photo       

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Program Manager - Local Education Outreach
Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY USA




I serve on the staff of Research Headquarters, where I manage the T. J. Watson Research Center's Local Education Outreach (LEO) program and serve as a member of the annual Research Technical Accomplishments assessment team. I also pursue a research program in bioengineering, exploring novel applications of lasers to medicine and surgery.

Brief Biography

Before joining IBM Research in 1969, I earned a Ph. D. in Applied Physics at Harvard University. After spending 1 1/2 years at the IBM Zurich Research Laboratory, I moved to the Watson Research Center, where I have spent my entire career. Most of my years as a researcher were spent in the areas of nonlinear optics, laser spectroscopy of atomic and molecular species, cluster science, and applications of lasers to medicine and surgery. My current assignment to the staff of Research Headquarters commenced in Sept. 1997. As Program Manager of LEO since 1990, I serve as a leader, originator, communicator, catalyst, matchmaker, organizer, and facilitor, opening up pathways of communication between the employees of our laboratory and the local educational community.

Laser Surgery

In 1981, Samuel Blum, Rangaswamy Srinivasan and I were all members of the Laser Physics and Chemistry group (which I managed) at the Research Center, when we discovered that excimer laser light could etch biological tissue, with no apparent damage to the tissue underlying the etched volume. This discovery yielded an invention disclosure that was completed on New Year's Eve in 1981. In 1983, we collaborated with an ophthalmologist who brought ennuceated calf eyes to the Watson Research Center, where we used the excimer laser to create ultraclean, precise incisions. This experiment laid the foundation for the modern laser refractive surgical techniques known as LASIK and PRK.

For our discovery and work in this area, we have received many external awards, including the 2002 Induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, the 2004 Wood Prize of the Optical Society of America, the 2010 Rank Prize for Opto-electronics, the 2011 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and the 2013 Russ Prize of the National Academy of Engineering. In 2015 I was elected a Member of the National Academy of Engineering. I am the American Physical Society 2015 Distinguished Lectureship Award on the Applications of Physics Recipient.

I continue research to validate my concept that the excimer laser can serve as a "smart scalpel" to remove necrotic lesions of the skin without creating collateral damage to the underlying and adjacent viable tissue.


Electron micrograph of human hair photoetched by light from an excimer laser

 Human hair etched by excimer laser


Photograph of human skin, in vitro, photoetched by light from an excimer laserPhotograph of human skin, in vitro, photoetched by excimer laser

Local Education Outreach

As Program Manager, Local Education Outreach (LEO), I establish pathways of communication between IBM and local schools and keep traffic flowing in both directions along these pathways. Our programs include Family Science Saturdays for elementary school students and their parents and DiscoverE, for which I also serve as IBM's global coordinator. 



Projects and Groups