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Eustace Dereniak named 2013 Alumnus of Year at UA College of Optical Sciences

24 October 2013

SPIE Immediate Past President Eustace Dereniak, an international expert in infrared optical systems, will be honored next month as the 2013 University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences Alumnus of the Year.

photo of Eustace DereniakDereniak, an SPIE Fellow who received his PhD from Arizona in 1976 and has taught at the College of Optical Sciences for nearly 40 years, is receiving the award "in recognition of his cutting-edge research, professional leadership, and extensive contributions to optics and photonics education," says Thomas L. Koch, the college's dean.

"The College of Optical Sciences is globally known for its outstanding teaching and research programs," Koch said. "While this reputation stems from the brilliance of our students and the dedication and expertise of our faculty, it is also our alumni who have driven our success. Eustace is the perfect personification of these in all three dimensions, as a student, an alumnus, and as a valued faculty member. His extraordinary accomplishments and dedication to his career makes him most deserving of this prestigious honor."

Koch also announced that several of Dereniak's former students have joined the Dereniak family in establishing the Eustace Dereniak Friends and Family Scholarship in Optical Sciences. This permanent endowment will award a scholarship annually to a student whose interests are in IR systems and optical engineering.

SPIE Executive Director Eugene Arthurs congratulated Dereniak on his exceptional career accomplishments which include "his service to the optics and photonics community, his commitment to the University of Arizona, and his proven history of leadership experience."

In particular, Arthurs commended Dereniak's passion about his students. "He works tirelessly to enhance opportunities for them, always makes himself available to students from anywhere, takes a genuine interest in their growth, and has mentored many over the years.

"Eustace has maintained close relationships with SPIE and OSA student chapters and individuals," Arthurs said. "On a recent visit to Taiwan, I was struck by the warm welcome from former University of Arizona students who are now leaders of the community there, and by their respect and compliments to his formative role in their success."

Dereniak has provided some 33 years of service to SPIE, including service as president in 2012. He has also served on the SPIE Awards and Strategic Planning Committees and chaired SPIE conferences on IR detectors and focal plane arrays, IR photoelectronics, semiconductor photodetectors, imaging spectrometers, and IR technology.

photo of Eustace Dereniak receiving award

Dereniak (at center above, with Arthurs on left and Koch on right) has been an influential leader and educator in optics and photonics for nearly five decades, helping create "21st Century breakthroughs in medicine, military hardware, astronomy, and many other fields," Koch said.

Among Dereniak's previous awards are the 2006 Award of Distinction for Undergraduate Teaching at UA, the U.S. Army's Commander's Award for Public Service in 2009, and the 1999 Award for Outstanding Alumni from Michigan Technological University where he received his BS in 1963.

The UA College of Optical Sciences, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014, will present the award at a ceremony 8 November.

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