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In memoriam: H. John Caulfield, holography author and imaging researcher

Specialized in holography, metrology, coherent optics

02 February 2012

H. John Caulfield, retired Chief Scientist at Alabama A&M University Research Institute and a past editor of the SPIE journal Optical Engineering, passed away after an illness on 31 January 2012.

Born 25 March 1936, Caulfield received his BA in Physics from Rice University, and his PhD in Physics from Iowa State University. His ensuing career in holography, metrology, and coherent optics took him to Texas Instruments, Raytheon, Fisk University, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville, among others.

Caulfield authored 14 books, 41 book chapters, 252 refereed journal papers, and numerous popular articles, including the most popular of them all: the 1984 National Geographic cover story on holography in 1984, "The Wonder of Holography," read by more than 25 million people.

Caulfield served SPIE in numerous ways; becoming an SPIE Fellow in 1977, and Secretary of the Society 1978-1979. He chaired many SPIE conferences and served on committees, edited five SPIE press books, and authored over 100 papers. He most recently co-chaired the conference, "Tribute to Joseph W. Goodman," along with Henri Arsenault, at 2011 SPIE Optics + Photonics.

He won the Gold Medal of the Society, the highest honor the Society bestows, in 2005, in recognition of his numerous contributions to holography, imaging, optical computing, optical logic and his numerous inventions including, but not limited to local reference beam holography, coherence gated imaging, generalized matched filters, optical linear algebra, fuzzy optical metrology, artificial color, and passive conservative interferometric logic gates.

In addition to the Gold Medal, Caulfield received many awards from SPIE including the Dennis Gabor Award, President's Award, and Governors' Award. He was editor of SPIE's flagship journal, Optical Engineering, from July/August 1979 through May/June 1985.

"Not only shall I remember John as a distinguished and experienced member of the holography and optical information processing community, but in over 30 years of interaction with him I have always been fascinated by his capacity to generate excitement through daring new associations of scientific concepts," said Pierre Chavel, Laboratoire Charles Fabry, Institut d'Optique. "He did this in particular through his activity as a book editor and even more as conference organizer. Wise crosslinking of apparently disjoint concepts is what research is all about, after all!"

You can read more about Caulfield in this 2005 article from oeMagazine.