Technology Leaders Join SETI Institute Board

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - SETI Institute announces the addition of four high-tech leaders to its Board of Trustees: Lewis Platt, former Hewlett Packard Chairman and CEO; Linda Bernardi, founder and CEO of ConnecTerra, Inc.; Joel Birnbaum former HP Senior Vice President of Research and Director of HP Labs; and Alan Bagley, former HP executive.

"Every one of these people has made, or is making, a major difference in technology," said Thomas Pierson, SETI Institute CEO, "This Board expansion represents the next phase of strategic growth for the Institute. Each new member brings to our Board the kind of visionary leadership that has characterized our science team and led to bold initiatives like the Allen Telescope Array."

Founded in 1984, the SETI Institute is the international leader in research and education relevant to the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe, including the possibility of intelligent life. The Institute is home to more than 40 research projects, including Project Phoenix, which currently uses the large radiotelescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico to conduct the world's most comprehensive search for the possible radio signature of distant civilizations.

Future SETI Institute projects include the Allen Telescope Array, being developed in partnership with the University of California, Berkeley. Projected for completion in 2005, this innovative 10,000 square meter array of 20-foot antennae will conduct both full time SETI research and other radio astronomy projects. The current development phase of the Allen Telescope Array is privately funded by a combined $12.5 million gift from philanthropists Paul Allen and Nathan Myhrvold. This is the largest donation ever directed to a SETI project.

The appointment of three former Hewlett Packard executives reflects a long and close relationship with that company starting with the involvement of the late Bernard Oliver, former HP Vice President and Lab Director. In the early 1970s, Oliver took a short sabbatical from HP to lead a NASA study team that produced Project Cyclops, a comprehensive study that would become the foundation for modern SETI research. Oliver would later join the SETI Institute Board of Trustees and serve as senior technical advisor. In 1993, when Congressional funding for SETI research was eliminated, Oliver and other SETI leaders secured financial assistance from computer pioneers William Hewlett, David Packard, Gordon Moore and Paul Allen, thus enabling Project Phoenix to proceed. Today the SETI Institute/HP association continues through the Board appointments of HP alumni who share Oliver's interest in the scientific search for life beyond Earth.

Lewis Platt

Lew Platt served seven years as Chairman, CEO, and President of HP, retiring in 1999 to assume leadership of Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates (which he headed until 2001). Prior to becoming CEO, Platt served HP in various managerial capacities for 33 years. Named Corporate Top Manager by Business Week in 1995, Platt's distinguished career includes directorships of the Boeing Company, 7-Eleven and the David and Lucille Packard Foundation. Other honors include a presidential appointment during the Clinton years to the Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN), and chairmanship of the World Trade Organization Task Force. Platt is a member of Morgan Stanley Capital Partner's and Rein Capital Advisory Boards and serves on the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business Board of Overseers.

Platt holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University, an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, and an honorary doctorate in Engineering Science from Santa Clara University. Platt's many years as a venerable leader in the technology industry brings a valuable breadth of experience and knowledge to the Board.

Joel Birnbaum

Also retiring from Hewlett-Packard Company in 1999 (as Senior Vice President of Research and Development and Director of HP Labs), Joel Birnbaum maintains a key role at HP as senior technical advisor, reporting directly to Carly Fiorina, HP Chairman and CEO. At HP Labs, Birnbaum developed the precursor of HP's Precision Architecture, led research into new directions in computer architecture, hardware and software, and made personal contributions in the areas of distributed computer system architecture, real-time data acquisition, analysis and control, and RISC processor architecture. Today, Birnbaum continues to help the company shape its technology strategy and to communicate this strategy to the marketplace.

Birnbaum is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, a Foreign Member of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the California Council on Science and Technology, a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, and is a newly elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Widely recognized and respected by his peers for exceptional technological foresight, Birnbaum now brings this expertise to the SETI Institute. Birnbaum holds a B.S. in Engineering Physics from Cornell University, a Master's Degree and Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics from Yale University, and an Honorary Doctorate from the Technion University of Israel.

Alan Bagley

Al Bagley has been a long time SETI Institute supporter and volunteer. Bagley's HP service spanned 37 years including positions as General Manager of the Frequency and Time Division (which later became the Santa Clara Division) and Engineering Manager of HP's Electronic Instruments Group. Bagley's involvement with SETI dates back to the late 1980s when he served on a technical advisory panel for the NASA SETI program. He has remained actively interested in SETI research and has helped generate support for the Institute's research efforts. Bagley is a past member of Trimble Navigation's Scientific Advisory Board, and with this affiliation, helped to secure important in-kind support for the Allen Telescope Array. Bagley received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from California Institute of Technology, and his M.S in Engineering from Stanford University, where he was awarded an HP Fellowship.

Linda Bernardi

Linda Bernardi spent the first 12 years of her career at BBN Technologies of Cambridge, MA, (the company that that implemented and operated ARPANET), where her passion and vision for future possibilities of the Internet began.

Over the course of her career, Linda has been involved in the growth of innovative high technology companies in the US, Europe, and the Far East. She combines her strong technical background with global business development and executive management experience. Following BBN, Linda assumed the role of VP of Strategic Business Development at PPD (Pharmaceutical Product Development), of Raleigh, NC, where her work was strongly focused on issues and technologies relating to global distributed data and information access. Over the years, Linda has built critical alliances with leading hardware, software, consulting firms and application companies, with a strong international emphasis. Her interest in strategic development and introduction of new technologies to the market led her, in 1999, to start Bernardi and Co., a strategic consulting company. At this same time, she laid the groundwork for launching a new enterprise using breakthrough technology and leading the next evolution of the Internet to connect businesses with their devices. Linda founded ConnecTerra of Burlington, MA, in January 2001, where she serves as CEO and President, and is pioneering the creation of foundation technologies for the 'Internet of Devices'.

Her interests run deeper than the Creation of technology. Linda is profoundly concerned with the relationship between technology and society, with a focus upon education and diversity. Of note, she is a Trustee for the Institute for Women and Technology (IWT); and she has a strong passion for mentoring women entering and growing in corporations, as well as corporations acknowledging and promoting women in leadership positions. Bernardi received her B.A. in Biology from California State University, Northridge, and her M.S. in Applied Statistics from the University of California, Los Angeles.

The 2002 appointments of Platt, Bernardi, Birnbaum and Bagley bring the total SETI Institute Board membership to 15. Other members recently appointed include Herbert Stansbury, business executive and syndicated cartoonist; John Gertz, Founder of Zorro Productions; and David Liddle, General Partner, U.S. Venture Partners.

Research Thrust: 

About SETI Institute

Founded in 1984, the SETI Institute is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary research and education organization whose mission is to explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe. Our research encompasses the physical and biological sciences and leverages expertise in data analytics, machine learning and advanced signal detection technologies.  The Institute is a distinguished research partner for industry, academia and government agencies, including NASA and NSF.