Interview with Alex Bliss

Alex joined the team in 2010 as IPI's Software Architect. He's our resident geek who maintains all of the web applications and provides technical support when the need arises. He is the man behind the curtain who built eClimateNotebook and continues to maintain and enhance it, among all of the other sites. He is continuously working on new initiatives for us and we can't imagine the tech corner here without him.

Alex BlissName:
Alex Bliss

Quick Overview
I graduated from Oswego State University in 2006 with a degree in Computer Science. I was then hired as a software systems developer for Paychex, a US-based payroll and human resource services company based in Rochester, NY. I worked there until 2010 when I joined IPI. I have always had an interest in data analysis, processing and heuristics.

Where were you born?
Syracuse, NY in the sleepy village of Geddes near the Great New York State Fair. It was the perfect blend of small town next to a small city in Syracuse. Also home to one of the United States few natural salt lakes as well as one of the most polluted lakes, Onondaga Lake.

What was your professional training?
I was trained formally in Computer Science with a focus on the practice of planning, implementing and managing large-scale software engineering projects. I also have a very strong interest in concurrency, or solving complex problems using many computers working together at the same time.

What was your very first job?
My first job was a computer technician and furniture sales associate at the office supplies store Staples. It gave me an appreciation for all the tasks that everyone I meet throughout my day does as well those you don’t see that make your day and life easier.

What would your dream job be?
My dream job would likely be building robots. I don’t have as strong of a background in electrical engineering needed to do it as an actual profession, but the fields of artificial intelligence, robotics, and computer vision have always intrigued me. Also, having a pet robot sounds like it would be great.

How did your partnership with IPI begin?
In 2010, I was evaluating my professional goals and the opening at IPI was brought to my attention. As I did some more research, I realized that the research setting that IPI cultivates was more in line with my software development interests and decided to take a chance in applying for the position. After my first few projects at IPI, I knew I had found a fit. The atmosphere and the environment were really rewarding to me professionally and I only hope to give back more as time goes on.

Why does the preservation of museum and library collections matter to you?
It is very important in the context of society, learning, and intelligence in general to preserve our art, knowledge, and history. Without it we would have no window into the past or ourselves. Even though there is so much I have learned and felt through art, I feel like there is so much more for myself and everyone to do as well. It is our duty to protect it to the best of our ability so people of all times can be enriched in such a way.

What is your favorite work of art or your favorite artist?
Roy Lichtenstein is one of my favorite artists. I love most pop art from the 60’s however being a child of comic books, his especially resonates with me.

What other hobbies or significant interests do you have?
I am an aspiring amateur photographer. I find a sense of peace and accomplishment in trying to catch photographs of scenes, objects, and people. Sometimes even looking back on my own images, I am surprised at what I can feel by looking at them.

What book (or books) would you take with you to a desert island?
If I was marooned on a desert island, I would hope to have HP Lovecraft handy. I might as well be scared of the ocean so that I stay out of it.

What is your most treasured possession?
A few water colors done by my great uncle and grandmother. They are not anything remarkable from an artistic standpoint, but they are of areas that my family vacationed at in the Thousand Island region when I was younger. It is a fond memory of family times past.

What is your greatest indulgence?
Cannoli. A pretty cliché answer but I usually cannot resist the siren call of a cannoli from a pastry case, dessert menu, or even the grocery store.

What was the most surprising thing to you about IPI?
The thing that surprised me when I first started, and still does to this day is just the amount of research and work being done at IPI. There are a lot of different avenues being pursued and a lot of knowledge being compiled. It’s always exciting to come to work and be a part of it every day.