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NYSTAR director calls University research key to economic resurgence

New York can best fuel its economic resurgence in the 21st century by encouraging the use of research and technology to solve real-world problems, including pressing national security concerns arising from the ashes of September 11, said Dr. Russell W. Bessette, executive director the New York Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research.

“This is an environment of opportunity as well as uncertainty,” Bessette said.

Bessette was on campus December 4 to deliver the fourth annual Patrick A. Toole lecture to a crowd of about 150 in the Watters Theater. The Patrick A. Toole lecture was established in 1998 by IBM Corp. in Endicott to recognize the career of Toole, who led IBM’s efforts to become an independent supplier of technology products until his retirement in 1997.

Toole, who was on hand to introduce Bessette, said he is always optimistic about partnerships between higher education and government.

“Great things happen when academe—the university—and the government get together,” he said.

During his talk, Bessette cited several examples of such partnerships at Binghamton University, including what he termed the “highly successful” Integrated Electronics Engineering Center, which is a state designated Center for Advanced Technology. He said the state’s economic development efforts rely heavily on research at Binghamton and others of the state’s more than 300 public and private research universities and colleges.

NYSTAR was created by Governor Pataki to harness the economic development engine of university research by investing in the job-creating technologies of tomorrow. Since 1995 the state has invested more than $730 million in the technology business sector and in research laboratories and academic centers, Bessette said.

Digital technology could well be the economic catalyst that allows New York to assume a leadership role in the new century, he added. That technology represents the confluence of communications and life sciences and is manifested in the arts and sciences, medicine, education, and various aspects of everyday life.

Bessette said work like that of Binghamton research professor Jessica Fridrich, who has already helped to spur major strides in the security of digital communications, will be key to the nation’s economic, social and political future.

“Clearly information is power, and the control and processing of information is vital to any society’s survival,” Bessette said.

A former clinical professor in the Department of Surgery at the State University of New York at Buffalo’s School of Medicine, Bessette has worked in academic research for more  than 30 years.


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