Brown University School of Engineering

Mary Lou Jepsen to Receive Honorary Degree

April 18, 2014

At its 246th Commencement Sunday, May 25, 2014, Brown University will confer honorary doctorates on nine distinguished alumni. Included among the recipients is engineering alumna and innovator Mary Lou Jepsen '87, Ph.D. '97, who will receive a Doctor of Science (Sc.D.). Jepsen will also present a Commencement Forum on Saturday, May, 24.

Jepsen is among the world’s most productive innovators of graphic displays for computer-generated images and information. She is a 1987 graduate of Brown, with a double concentration in electrical engineering and studio art (Sc.B., 1987), and returned to Brown to earn a Ph.D. in optical sciences in 1997. She is the founder or co-founder of four start-ups in computer display hardware with more than $1 billion in total revenue.

Jepsen is the co-founder of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), a nonprofit effort to bring computing and transformative educational opportunities to children around the world, particularly in developing countries. She was the chief architect of the $100 laptop, inventing its breakthrough screen technology and co-inventing its low-power management system. As the first chief technology officer for OLPC, she negotiated production of the $100 laptop with large manufacturers and helped design large-volume mass production. After 10 years, OLPC has shipped more than 5 million units, and the laptop is still in production.

As founder and CEO of Pixel Qi, Jepsen invented new screen architectures for mass production in Asia and led creation of new displays with sunlight readability and color video with dramatically reduced power requirements. As co-founder and first CTO of MicroDisplay Corp, she was involved in rear-production HDTV and the first commercial liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) displays to ship in volume. Her resume lists projects ranging from radio rooms in the Trident submarine to antiglare illumination systems for the Space Shuttle, to large-scale holography (city-block size, in Cologne, Germany), and to a project, shown to be feasible, for projecting video onto the surface of the Moon “for all humanity to see.”

Jepson has authored more than 100 scientific papers and has more than 50 worldwide patents. She has been ranked among the top 50 female computer scientists of all time, and Time Magazine has included her in its “Time 100” list as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. She is currently head of the Display Division at Google [x].

A member of Brown's Engineering Advisory Committee, Jepsen has received the Brown Engineering Alumni Medal, given to engineering alumni with exceptional records of achievement in their careers. She has also received Brown University’s Horace Mann Medal that is given annually to a Brown Graduate School alumnus or alumna who has made significant contributions in his or her field, inside or outside of academia.