Dr. Solomon Assefa is the Director of IBM Research | Africa. He is responsible for IBM’s research labs in Kenya and South Africa, and heads IBM’s research strategy and partnership across the African continent. IBM Research | Africa is developing technologies that transform key industries and address Africa’s grand challenges; promoting Africa’s leadership in science and technology; and fostering local innovation ecosystems to enable Africa’s international competitiveness.
Previously, he was the Director of Research Strategy & Growth Initiatives for Africa. In that role, he developed research strategies by identifying emerging trends, creating talent pipeline, and exploring partnerships. He has also served as a Program Manager in the office of Science and Technology, with responsibilities for evaluating science and technology roadmaps for IBM’s worldwide research laboratories.
As a Research Scientist, Solomon has worked on IBM’s nanophotonics technology with responsibilities spanning research, development, and technology transfer to commercial foundry. His research contributions include high-speed optical detectors, nano-structured platforms for bio-sensing, and quantum information processing. He has co-authored over 150 publications in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, has over 50 patents, and has appeared as a guest speaker at numerous conferences worldwide. His work has been featured in Nature magazine, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, Forbes, Technology Review, EE Times, and IEEE Spectrum, among many others.
Solomon is a member of the Optical Society of America (OSA), the American Physical Society (APS), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He has served as committee chair and workshop organizer for various conferences including the Optical Fibers Conference (OFC) and Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO). He is a member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the Next Einstein Forum, an initiative launched in 2015 by the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS). He is also a Fellow of the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, and an Honorary Professor at University of Witwatersrand in South Africa.
Solomon is a recipient of several awards including the Technical Accomplishment Award, Corporate Recognition Award, and Invention Achievement Awards from IBM. He is a frequent speaker at business events, international conferences, universities, and research institutions. He was named one of the World’s Top Young Innovators under 35 and received the TR35 awarded by MIT’s Technology Review (2011). Solomon was honored by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader in 2013. He received a B.S. in Physics (2001), a B.S. in EECS (2001), a M.S. in EECS (2001) and a Ph.D. (2004) all from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).