Although SUNY Potsdam has many accomplished alumni, very few have achieved the high level of distinction that Dr. Mary Helander, 1983, has earned in her 30 year career. The daughter of Dick and Peg Scheffler of Phoenix and of James H. Charles of Wolcott, and a graduate of Phoenix High School (Mary Elizabeth Charles), she was recently awarded the prestigious Minerva Award by the College’s Alumni Association.
As a Math Research Scientist with the Mathematical Sciences department at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center, most of her research has involved the development of network based algorithms to solve business problems across a number of domains and industries. She has more than 25 years of combined industry and academic experience in operations research, optimal network and transportation planning, software engineering and supply chain management.
In 2010, in recognition of her mastery of the patent process - she and her teammates are credited with 15 United States patents -
Dr. Helander was one of only 38 IBM employees worldwide (out of 368,00) to receive the prestigious honor of being named an IBM Master Inventor.
This elite group of researchers is charged with assisting in the identification of new inventions, mentoring others in the use of the patent process, and serving as a resource to IBM’s Intellectual Property Legal office.
Helander is also widely published in a number of international journals on computer science, and she has delivered lectures on ther work at a number of distinguished universities.
In addition to her bachelor’s degree in computer science and mathematics from SUNY Potsdam, she also holds a master’s degree (M.S.) from Syracuse University, a Ph. D. from the University at Buffalo, and a docent in quality technology and software engineering from Linkoping University in Sweden (Docent is a research distincton beyond Ph. D. given by Scandinavian institutions.)
Dr. Helander is also incredibly generous to her alma mater. She was among the first donors to commit a major leadership gift to the college’s Take the Lead Campaign. She also serves as a trustee on the Potsdam College Foundation Board and was an important member of the Board’s Campaign Planning Committee.
In recognition of her outstanding professional achievement and exceptional generosity to her alma mater, the SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association is proud to present the 2013 Minerva Award, the highest honor that can be bestowed on an alum, to Dr. Mary Helander, Class of 1983.