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Robert D. Allen

Robert Allen

Robert D. Allen, of San Jose, California, earned a doctorate in chemistry from Virginia Tech in 1985. Prior to this, he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Gannon College. Allen completed a postdoctoral fellowship at IBM Almaden, which ultimately led to a highly successful career at IBM Research, where he has held numerous positions ranging from laboratory chemist to project lead, along with various management roles.

Allen is currently a distinguished research staff member and the senior research manager of the polymer science and technology department at IBM Almaden Research Center. In his current role, Allen leads a team of innovative chemists and material scientists that focuses primarily on designing, building, and understanding materials (mostly polymers) for high-performance applications, using an approach that combines experimentation with computation. His team works on enabling IBM’s core technology through materials innovation, as typified by their research on lithography materials and low-k dielectric materials and processes.

A pioneer in the field, Allen recognized years ago that the skills gained through these pursuits could be leveraged to build materials for applications that extend well beyond electronics. With this in mind, his team began to focus on IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative, emphasizing the areas of water, the environment, healthcare, and energy. Current research projects include membranes for improved separations, antimicrobial surfaces to battle against infectious diseases, new catalytic processes for the creation and/or recycling of high-performance materials, and materials for encapsulation and delivery of medicine.

A recipient of numerous honors and awards, Allen was elected in 2012 to the National Academy of Engineering. He is a Fellow of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and the polymer division of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Allen was honored with the division’s Industrial Polymer Scientist Award in 2014, and received the distinction of Master Inventor at IBM. In addition, he holds more than 50 U.S. patents, has published extensively, and has been a major contributor to national and international conferences on polymers.