James Wynne

Profile Updated: December 22, 2013
Updated since your last visit
Residing In:
Mount Kisco, NY USA
Spouse/Partner:
Barbara J. (Silverberg) Wynne: wed in 1964
Homepage:
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Occupation:
Scientist, Program Manager

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James Wynne Dec 22 at 8:59AM

We have a third grandchild, Oliver McMahon Wynne, born 12/18/13

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James Wynne updated profile.
Dec 22 at 8:58AM
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Questions & Answers

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Attending Reunion

Yes

Family:

Wife: Barbara J. (Silverberg) Wynne, wed in 1964
Barbara is from Rochester, NY. She went to college at Boston University, where she majored in Psychology and Education. Her first day at B.U. in 1961, she met Susan Diamond, a "gem" of a girl who knew me from the previous year and who made the match. On our first date, I was smitten. But it took me some time to propose marriage. We were married on August 22, 1964. The ensuing 49+ years have been fabulous.

Barbara taught 2nd grade in the Boston area while I was going through graduate school. After our second child started college in 1994, Barbara worked as an office manager at a Temple and later at a Music School. She is now retired.

Son: Keith A. Wynne, born 1974
Keith attended University of Delaware, where he majored in Early Childhood Education and Family Studies. After college, he taught English in Japan for two years, the second year as a kindergarten teacher to Japanese children in an all-English language school. Since returning from Japan, he has taught all grades of elementary school. He is in the middle of his 7th year as an elementary science specialist in the NY City Public Schools. He has a Masters in International Education from Columbia Teachers College and recently earned a Masters in School Administration from Baruch College.

In 2012, Keith wed Theresa. She just had a baby on December 18, 2013. Keith's parents know that he will be a great father.

Daughter: Alexis E. (Wynne) Mogul, born 1976
Alexis attended Vassar College, where she majored in Physics (a "chip of the old block"). After college, she worked at Lawrence Livermore Lab, east of San Francisco. Then she attended Cornell University, where she earned a Masters in Applied and Engineering Physics.

In 2004, she married Douglas Mogul, who had been pursuing her since 1992 in high school. Subsequently, she has been working as a copy/production editor for Science magazine and PLOS Biology. They moved to San Francisco in 2006, where Doug was trained in Pediatrics at Stanford University Medical Center. They now live to Baltimore, where Doug is on the staff of Johns Hopkins Children's Center . Alexis is working for as the Managing Editor of PLoS One, a web-based, peer-reviewed journal.

Grandchildren: Amelia and Jonah Mogul, twins, born 2006
They are terrific (and delicious) children (and I'm not the least bit biased). Barbara and I love to spend time with them, and Baltimore brings them closer to us than San Francisco. (Check out their pictures below)

Oliver McMahon Wynne, born 12/18/2013!!!!!!

Education:

Harvard College, B.A. - 1964
Harvard University, Ph. D., Applied Physics - 1969

Career:

Lewis Love, my high school physics teacher, turned me on to physics as a possible career. During the summer of 1963, I took a job on Long Island working with lasers, which had been invented in May, 1960, just before we graduated from high school. At the end of the summer, I decided to go for a doctorate in physics and also propose to Barbara, both without first asking my parents permission. So I finally "grew up" at that summer.

My Ph. D. thesis at Harvard was in the area of nonlinear optics, a field that emerged with the invention of the laser. My thesis advisor, Nicolaas Bloembergen, later was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for being the "father" of nonlinear optics.

Fresh with my doctorate, I joined IBM Research, where I have been employed for ~43 years. For my first assignment, I worked at the IBM Zurich Research Lab in Ruschlikon, Switzerland, a suburb of Zurich. There I continued to investigate nonlinear optics.

Life in Europe was fantastic. Things cost ~1/4 of what they cost in the United States. We could eat at fine restaurants for $2/person. We could ski all day for $4/person. In Austria, we could stay in a chalet/hotel for $4/night, with a private bath and breakfast. Those were the "good old days."

During the week, I worked at IBM and Barbara planned our weekend trip. We traveled to Spain, Italy, France, Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, England, and everywhere in Switzerland. I estimate that I skiied on 50 different days during my two winters in Switzerland.

Upon returning to the US in January, 1971, I joined the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY, where I have worked ever since. We moved to our home in Mt. Kisco in 1973, and are still there.

At IBM, I continued to work in laser physics research through the early 1990s. Since then, I have had an administrative job with the office of the Director of Research. I spend a major part of my time recruiting IBMers to volunteer for technical education outreach, i.e., visiting local schools to get kids aware of and interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), with the goal being to stock the pipeline of future engineers and scientists.

As for my work in laser physics, my highest impact achievement was to co-invent excimer laser surgery, the foundation for laser refractive surgery (LASIK, PRK) -
National Inventors Hall of Fame profile . My IBM colleagues and I have received many awards for this discovery, including the National Medal of Technology and Innovation (presented to me by President Obama at the White House on February 1, 2013) and the National Academy of Engineering's (NAE) Russ Prize (presented to me at the NAE Awards Dinner and Ceremony on February 19,2013) , but the best personal reward was that my son, who was myopic and astigmatic, had the PRK procedure in 2006 and now sees 20/15 in each eye.

2010 marked the 50th anniversary, not only of our high school class' graduation, but the invention of the laser. Several professional science societies organized a celebration: LaserFest . See my LaserFest Profile as one of the "Important People in Laser Science."

In Jan. 2011, I was interviewed during a laser science and engineering conference in San Francisco.
8-minute-long video of that interview

One more thing: In 2005, Les Paul was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his invention of the solid body electric guitar. For the occasion, I composed lyrics about the 2005 inductees, to the melody of Les and Mary Ford's hit song "How High the Moon." At the induction event, Les joined the combo providing background music for the event, and they played "How High the Moon" while I and many of the other attendees sang my lyrics - see the picture below. (Les, 94 years old, passed away on August 13, 2009. His influence on modern music is staggering.)

Lifelong Hobbies:

Tennis - since 1952; my hand-to-eye coordination and my serve have never been better; my speed afoot leaves a lot to be desired; but I now bend my knees, the failure to do so being the "Achilles Heel" of my tennis youth
Squash rackets (until ~8 years ago) - I was a member of our varsity team that was the national champion in 1963-64. But I can't really brag too much, because my roommate, Vic Niederhoffer, who played #1 on the varsity for three years, was the intercollegiate champion, won the U.S. Nationals on 6 different occasions, and even won the North American Open in 1975. To learn more about Vic, see
Victor Niederhoffer
Reading:
My favorite book of fiction is The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, even though I mostly disagree with her philosophy, i.e., I am a democrat, NOT a libertarian.
I recently reread The Crash of '79, by Paul Erdman, a fictional account of massive misbehavior, i.e. bad loans by big banks, compounded by a misguided war to take over the middle eastern oil fields. It is a great read, with an eerie foresight about the worldwide financial crisis of the past 4+ years.
Travel - lived in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Zurich; honeymooned in Bar Harbor, Maine; visited our grandchildren in San Francisco many times, and now visit them in Baltimore; visited our son while he lived in Japan; love to visit Sedona, AZ; visited Istanbul in May, 2011; will visit Berlin, Prague, and Paris in May, 2013; most memorable short vacation trip: Florence, Italy.
Listening to music - Beethoven, Saint-Saens, Tchiakovsky, especially his violin concerto performed by Jascha Heifetz with Fritz Reiner conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Favorite movies - Lady and the Tramp & Fantasia, especially the
"Dance of the Hours" ballet featuring dancing hippos, ostriches, elephants, and alligators.

Community Activities:

In the past, I served on the Board of Directors of the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America. the National Inventors Hall of Fame. and as an alternate (for the IBM Director of Research) on the Board of the New York Hall of Science, a hands-on science museum in Flushing Meadows Park, built during the 1964-65 World Fair.

Comments:

Thoughts on the completed 50th Reunion:
I enjoyed the Reunion more than any one else. I feel like I was in labor for the past 5 years and was gratified to "give birth" to a very exceptional "baby" named "50th Reunion." Being there made me feel 50 years younger. All of you who attended were part of my "Fountain of Youth!"

Check out my playlist of favorite songs:
You can turn off the music by clicking on the "pause" button ( !! ) and changing into a "play" button


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Did You Graduate From North Or South?

North

Elementary School Info:

Kensington School - last part of 1st grade, 2nd grade - Mrs. White
Saddle Rock School - 3rd grade, 4th grade - Miss Jansen, 5th grade - Mrs. Colvin, 6th grade, Ms. Watkins

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How I looked in 1958, in Havana, Cuba, where I spent most of 11th grade. We returned to Great Neck soon after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, and I completed 11th grade (and all of 12 grade) at GN North HS.
With my sister Judy (GNHS '57) in 1953, at the boat dock in GN Estates Park
My ticket to our 50th Reunion
Left to right:
My father, Richard Wynne; my mother, Beatrice Wynne; my future wife, Barbara Silverberg; yours truly - at the Club Caribe, Caribe Hilton, San Juan, Puerto Rico, February 1964. Don't we look happy?

Barbara and I were married that August, and I was even happier, and still am!!
Photo of me (in the middle) and 3 IBM colleagues being inducted as Commandeurs d'Honneur. Man on the right is the Grand-Maitre presiding over the induction ceremony
Decree inducting me as a Commandeur d'Honneur of the Wine Society of the Medoc and Graves regions of Bordeaux, France - Sept. 1983
National Inventors Hall of Fame event, May 2005, when Les Paul, inventor of the electric guitar, was inducted.

I'm standing in the middle, holding up lyrics I wrote to "How High The Moon". Les is to the far right, playing a Les Paul/Gibson electric guitar. The women to the left is Joel Schmiegel, the wife of the inventor of Prozac.
Electron micrograph of human hair, etched by pulses of ultraviolet light from an excimer laser. The discovery of this technique, by me and my IBM colleagues, laid the foundation for the laser refractive surgery procedures, LASIK and PRK.
My wife, Barbara; Our son, Keith; Our daughter, Alexis; myself - at Alexis' wedding, 10/3/2004 (Doug, the groom, is not in the picture)
Here I am with my two grandchildren, Amelia and Jonah, 3 weeks old, on Christmas Day, 2006
Doug and Alexis
Happy parents of Amelia and Jonah
Jonah and Amelia at Yosemite National Park, April 2009
My wife, Barbara, and I in Chappaqua, August 1, 2009
Barbara and I in Sedona, Arizona, on 12/8/09. This is a view from the Sedona airport. No matter which way one looks, the view is "drop-dead" gorgeous. Should we hold our 55th Reunion in Sedona?
My Christmas 2009 present from my children: A jigsaw puzzle of a Geological Survey map, with my house right in the center.
The Wynnes with Ron and Laurie Moss, at a restaurant in Portobello Road, London, UK - Feb. 6, 2010.
The Wynnes with Arthur and Jacquie Levi at Chez Julien in Paris, France - Feb. 12, 2010,
I finally found a place to relax after the unrelenting pressure of pulling together all the pieces of our 50th Reunion
We're on vacation in Europe. Here, we're in a shop in the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey, May 2011
We traveled to Munich, Germany, where we posed with some friends, May 2011
Barbara and me between a tree, with Sedona's red rocks in the background - December, 2011
My son, Keith, and his bride, Theresa, at their wedding on May 25, 2012. They are in the middle. My daughter, Alexis, and her husband, Doug, are to the left. Their children, Jonah and Amelia, are in front. Barbara and I are to the right. We're one happy family.
National Medal of Technology and Innovation ceremony at the White House, Feb. 1, 2013
President Obama contratulating me on my discovery of excimer laser surgery. His wife, Michelle, had laser refractive surgery.
Pergamon Museum in Berlin, one stop on our 2013 European vacation
Hotel Aria in Prague, another stop on our 2013 European vacation