Pioneer computer scientist Michael Fellows visits the Michael Sars Centre
Curious to learn more about Georg Ossian Sars, with whom he shares a prestigious honor, Professor Fellows enjoyed a visit of our facilities with genuine curiosity and a visible sense of wonder.
Prof. Michael Fellows from the Department of Informatics at the University of Bergen is one of the founders of parametrized complexity, a relatively new field of computer science. By identifying underlying parameters within a problem that can be exploited to optimize its resolution, parametrized complexity researchers aim at creating better and faster algorithms. Thanks to his groundbreaking research, Prof. Fellows has received impressive awards and honors throughout his career. This includes Australia’s highest civilian honor, Companion of the Order of Australia, equivalent to a British Knighthood, and the International Gold Medal of Honour for Computer Science and Computer Science Education granted by the ETH University of Zurich.
In 2014, he became one of only 230 scientists since 1870 to receive the title of Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Previous recipients of the Fellowship, which Fellows playfully nicknames ‘The Hobbit list’, include the likes of Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, as well as famous Norwegian marine biologist Georg Ossian Sars. “When I looked at the list and saw that I was only the second member of the Society from Norway and that the first one was Sars, it was incredible!”, he recalls.
Group Leader Marios Chatzigeorgiou gave the group a hands-on visit of the Ciona facility.
Beyond excellence in scientific research, Fellows and G.O. Sars share a remarkable commitment for building connections with scientists and institutions all over the world. Prof. Fellows has taught in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and in several European Universities. Author of Computer Science Unplugged!, a book designed to explain computer science to children, he and his wife Professor Frances Rosamond – who is also a mathematician - have traveled extensively to present workshops to school children.
While Sars’ work was primarily conducted from Norway, he fostered collaborations with international researchers and obtained samples from around the globe that he studied in his Oslo laboratory. This includes mud samples from New Zealand from which he raised and described several species of freshwater crustaceans. His findings were published in a small volume that earned him his Royal Society Fellowship. Sars was the first Norwegian Professor to receive the honor, and Fellows the second and only other to date.
Prof. Fellows and Michael Sars Centre Director Lionel Christiaen in the ctenophore facility.
When Prof. Fellows learned of the existence in Bergen of a research Centre named after Michael Sars, father to fellow ‘Hobbit list’ member Georg Ossian, he was curious to learn more about the family’s scientific legacy. Growing up a surfer near the sea, his childhood memories include playing tag with friends in the laboratories of the Scripps Research Institute in California and visiting the Calypso, the oceanographic vessel of famous French oceanographer and explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Of his experience visiting the Michael Sars Centre, he says: “It was magical and wonderful. The best day I have had looking into microscopes since junior high school!”.