Distinguished Alumni Awards

Brand I. Fortner

Brand I. Fortner
To Brand I. Fortner for the development of imaginative software and powerful scientific visualization tools that have revolutionized communication in science and engineering.

Chief Scientist, Information Exploitation Group, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland

  • BS 1977, Engineering Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • MS 1982, Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • PhD 1993, Astrophysics, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

 Brand I. Fortner is a visionary developer of computer software who has revolutionized communication in science and engineering. He was a founder and director of research and development for Spyglass, Inc., which helped usher in the World Wide Web in 1994. Spyglass produced the first commercial Web browser, Mosaic, whose underlying technology it subsequently licensed to more than 80 companies, including Netscape and Microsoft. Spyglass was listed by NASDAQ as one of the ten most successful initial public offerings in 1995.

After Mosaic was launched, Fortner left Spyglass for Space Applications Corporation, where he designed the HDF-EOS (hierarchical data format-earth observing system) data format and led the software library and tools implementation and documentation team. These products are currently being used by NASA’s EOS project and many earth science enterprise databases.

In 1996, he founded Fortner Software LLC in Sterling, Virginia, which quickly became the leading provider of data visualization tools to the science and engineering community. Fortner was the designer of Noesys® and Plot®, two extremely powerful integrated visualization programs. In 2000, he sold the company to Research Systems, Inc.

Since then, Fortner has been a chief scientist of the information exploitation group at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, where he works on visualization and imaging projects for the intelligence community. He is also the author of two books on scientific data: The Data Handbook, and Number by Colors.

He endowed the Fortner Chair of Theoretical Astrophyics in 1996, and has served as a charter member of the Department of Physics Advisory Board since 1997. He also serves on the North Carolina State University graduate department advisory board, and on numerous corporate boards.

Current as of 2005.