Past president accepts SPIE's highest honour

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SPIE's highest award, the Gold Medal of the Society, was presented to MJ Soileau, vice president of the University of Central Florida (UCF) Office of Research and Commercialization and founding director of CREOL - The College of Optics and Photonics at UCF.

The award was among several presented by SPIE President Kevin Harding, GE Global Research senior engineer, at an awards banquet during the SPIE Defense and Security Symposium in Orlando, FL.

The Gold Medal recognises Soileau’s dedication and service to optics education, research, and administration, along with his scientific contributions in the areas of laser-induced damage and sensor protecting devices.

Soileau’s career has been distinguished by ‘great leadership and service in both research and education, as well as to SPIE members’ said Judy Fennelly, system engineer for the Air Force Research Labs and chair of the SPIE Awards Committee. Soileau was president of SPIE in 1997, and became an SPIE Fellow in 1998.

‘It was my privilege some years ago to work with MJ on the National Alliance for Photonics Education in Manufacturing project, an NSF-funded effort that helped SPIE reach out more to the industrial community and understand better the needs of our colleagues applying optics and photonics to manufacturing,’ Harding said. ‘The knowledge gained from those activities continues to help us today, and like many activities MJ has spearheaded will continue to have an impact to our technical community for many years to come.’

 Harding commended all the award recipients and new Fellows, and noted that the evening saw the first presentation of an award new to the Society.

‘The Early Career Professional Award recognises that we have many new people coming into the area of optics and photonics and making valuable contributions,’ he said. ‘These are the people who will be the leaders of our community in the future.’ 

Award winners named at DSS08 included:

Shin-Tson Wu, provost-distinguished professor of optics at the UCF College of Optics and Photonics, who received the GG Stokes award for his exceptional contribution to the field of optical polarisation. Wu’s liquid crystal lens technology has been licensed for use in commercial and military applications and, most recently, medical applications. He was named SPIE Fellow in 2007.

Leon Glebov, a senior research scientist at the UCF College of Optics and Photonics, was awarded the Dennis Gabor Award for outstanding accomplishments in technologies relating to the bending of lightwaves.

Bahram Javidi, distinguished professor at the University of Connecticut, was awarded the Technology Achievement Award in recognition of his outstanding technical contributions in optical security systems, 3D image recognition, 3D display, 3D visualisation, and recognition of biological micro-organisms using 3D imaging systems. He became an SPIE Fellow in 1993.

Sanjay Krishna, associate professor at the University of New Mexico, was given the Early Career Achievement Award winner in recognition of his tremendous contributions to the development of midinfrared focal plane arrays using self-assembled quantum dots in a well (DWELL) design.

SPIE is recognising the election of 72 new Fellows throughout the year, with announcements for each made at the SPIE meeting chosen by each individual. Eight new SPIE Fellows were recognised at the DSS08 awards banquet:

  • Erik Blasch, Air Force Research Laboratory
  • Howard Brandt, Army Research Laboratory
  • David Chenault, Polaris Sensor Technologies
  • Keith Krapels, Office of Naval Research
  • Mubarek Shah, University of Central Florida
  • Joseph Shaw, Montana State University
  • Meimei Tidrow, Missile Defense Agency
  • Scott Tyo, University of Arizona.

Fellows are members of distinction who have made significant scientific and technical contributions in the multidisciplinary fields of optics, photonics, and imaging. They are honoured for their technical achievement and for their service to the general optics community and to SPIE in particular.