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Nancy Amato, Incoming Freshman Molly Graton Make Influential List of Key Chicago Tech Figures

7/19/2019 11:16:04 AM

Illinois Computer Science Head of Department Nancy Amato and incoming freshman Molly Graton are among seven University of Illinois faculty, students, and alumni named to this year’s Crain’s Tech 50 released this week by Crain’s Chicago Business.
Illinois Computer Science Head of Department Nancy Amato.
Illinois Computer Science Head of Department Nancy Amato.

In addition to Amato (PhD 1995, computer science) and Graton (enterring the CS program this fall), the annual list included David Awschalom (BS 1978, engineering physics), Lin Classon (MS theatre literature), Ron Guerrier (BS 1996, economics and finance), John Hoesley (BS 1993, chemistry), and Joe Jablonski (BS 1993, electrical engineering).

This is the ninth straight year that Crain’s Chicago Business has published this list of CEOs, entrepreneurs, technologists, dealmakers, researchers, and others at the forefront of the Chicago tech scene.

Amato, an Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering, became the first woman to lead Illinois’ computer science department in January. She earned her PhD from Illinois and comes back to Urbana-Champaign after a long tenure at Texas A&M University, where she served as Regents Professor and Unocal Professor of Computer Science and Engineering. She is a leading expert in robotics, parallel algorithms, and bio-informatics.

Graton is co-founder of GirlCon Chicago, an annual event in that helps connect girls with companies in STEM and learn from successful women from colleges and industry.

“It is such a unique honor to have us both on the list at the same time. GirlCon sounds like an awesome event --  I share Molly’s passion for broadening participation in computing and it is a strategic initiative for our department,” Amato said.

“I'm so excited to be attending UIUC and having the chance to work alongside Dr. Amato and the faculty," Graton added. "I’m really looking forward to this fall.”

The other University of Illinois representatives on the list include two others from The Grainger College of Engineering, Awschalom and Jablonski.

Incoming Computer Science student Molly Graton.
Incoming Computer Science student Molly Graton.
Awschalom is a professor at the University of Chicago and the director of the Chicago Quantum Exchange. A former researcher at IBM’s Watson Research Center, he is one of the world’s leading scientists in spintronics and quantum information engineering.

Jablonski is the co-founder and chief product officer and product marketing for Ocient, a data analytics software company in Chicago. A pioneer in the Internet of Things space, he has founded or co-founded five startups in the last 20 years – the consulting firm Visibility Systems (1997); Acumence (2002), a software product company that analyzes massive amounts of data for manufacturing companies; WeGather (2011), a fundraising platform for non-profits; Endstor (2014), a data storage service for Cleversafe clients; and Ocient.

Classon is the public head of product for Ensono, a company that provides hybrid IT solutions. She has provided marketing expertise in previous positions at United Airlines, ITA Software, and Google.

Guerrier is the Chief Information Officer and Secretary of Innovation and Technology for the State of Illinois. He has had a number of prominent roles, including Chief Information Officer for both Farmers Insurance and Toyota North America.

Hoesley is the Group Head for Technology Banking at CIBC Bank US. He has helped provide capital for many of Chicago’s tech companies. Previously, he has served as Managing Director for Midwest Marketing at Silicon Valley Bank and a partner for Prism Capital.

Go to the Full Crain's Tech 50 List