Optical Engineering • Open AccessMentorship
As I began my career at the Environmental Research Institute of Michigan (ERIM), I was surprised and a bit intimidated when I learned that I would be sharing an office with Juris Upatnieks, who I recognized from my Fourier optics education as one of the pioneers of off-axis holography (along with Emmitt Leith at the University of Michigan). He was a recognizable name in the optics field while I was just a young engineer right out of college, so I thought it was an odd pairing. Fortunately, Juris was a true gentleman with a pleasant and easy-going demeanor, and I quickly became very comfortable in his presence. He was also a skilled experimentalist with a knack for taking ideas sketched out on paper and actually making them work in the laboratory. As the first in a long line of professional colleagues that I consider to be my mentors, he was a positive influence on my laboratory skills while others shaped my analytical, technical writing, project management, and other competencies. Ultimately, I drew a little from each to make me the professional I am today.