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In memoriam: Nikiforos 'Nik' Kollias, biophysicist and distinguished researcher

04 December 2016

Nik Kollias
Nikiforos 'Nik' Kollias

SPIE Member Nikiforos "Nik" Kollias, 75, a retired adjunct professor in the Department of Dermatology at the University of British Columbia, and a Johnson & Johnson Distinguished Research Fellow, died 23 November in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Dr. Kollias received his Ph.D. in 1971 in Low Temperature Solid State Physics, from the University of Wyoming. In 1975 he was appointed Lecturer in Physics in the University of Kuwait where he developed a human photobiology laboratory in the Department of Dermatology of Al-Sabah Hospital.

In 1989 he joined the staff at Wellman Laboratories of Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School where ultimately, he developed optical methods for the assessment of trauma, both in-vivo and ex-vivo, in the office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Massachusetts.

At Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products in 1999, Kollias lead a group developing methods and systems for both multimodal and spectral clinical imaging. He retired from Johnson & Johnson in 2011 and was appointed Adjunct Professor of Dermatology at the University of British Columbia to participate in the research program in photobiology and phototherapy and the program on non-invasive diagnostics.

Kollias steadily contributed to the SPIE community. He published articles in the Journal of Biomedical Optics, and in 2015 reviewed articles for the publication. Starting in 1993, he presented regularly at SPIE events. For the past 16 years he served as a Conference Chair, most recently for Photonics in Dermatology and Plastic Surgery at Photonics West.

"Nik was an absolute pleasure to work with. Not only was he an outstanding scholar, but more importantly, he was a kind-hearted, passionate individual who shared without reservation his enthusiasm, wit, and wisdom with all participants of the Photonics in Dermatology and Plastic Surgery conference at Photonics West," said SPIE Member Bernard Choi, who has served with Kollias as co-chair of the conference committee for several years. He added, "I view Nik as a wonderful, generous mentor and colleague, and I know that there are many researchers in the field who share this sentiment. He will be dearly missed."

In keeping with Choi, SPIE Member Haishan Zeng, who also serves as co-chair said, "I am so fortunate to have known Nik and worked with him. I still remember his enthusiasm and smiles when I first met him and showed my skin spectroscopy project during his visit to our laboratory 25 years ago. His passion on skin research, his wisdom and optimism greatly influenced my career and life. At the Photonics in Dermatology and Plastic Surgery conference Nik was always generously sharing his knowledge and wisdom with everyone, and providing friendly advice to young researchers. We all miss his warm smiles and thought-provoking conversations. Nik will be remembered as a caring friend and mentor for many of us."

A Tribute to Nik Kollias is scheduled for 29 January 2017 at Photonics West.