Ralph Merkle is known as the co-inventor of public key cryptography and as a pioneer of molecular manufacturing, commonly known as nanotechnology. Before coming to the Foresight Institute, a nonprofit formed to help prepare society for anticipated advanced technologies, he pursued research in computational nanotechnology for 11 years at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). He continues to do research in nanotechnology and security, and maintains an interest in cryonics.
Dr. Merkle chaired the Fourth and Fifth Foresight Conferences on Nanotechnology and has received many awards. He was co-recipient of the 1998 Feynman Prize for Nanotechnology for Theoretical Work and of the ACM's Kanellakis Award for Theory and Practice, and received the 2000 RSA Award in Mathematics and the Kobayashi Award of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He has published and spoken extensively and holds ten patents. He served for many years as the executive editor of the journal Nanotechnology and has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Science Subcommittee on Basic Research.
He is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the American Chemical Society, the American Physical Society, and the IEEE. He sits on the scientific advisory board of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation.
Dr. Merkle received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University.