As a graduate student, Jennifer Yates was the only optical-network researcher in her native Australia. In 1999 she took a job in the United States at AT&T, where she went about rethinking the conventional method for managing optical networks, which required expensive hardware; Yates created an architecture, based on the common Internet Protocol, that uses software employed at each network node to do the same job. Previously, manual processes and centralized management computers set up each network connection and switch individually, slowing communications and introducing bottlenecks. Instead, Yates’s software is deployed across the network. Because the software can establish new connections and restore broken ones quickly, it lowers capacity demands and eliminates congestion. This network management methods is now being adopted by the telecommunications industry as the General Multi-Protocol Label Switching standard, embraced today by behemoths such as Lucent Technologies and Tellium.