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In memoriam: Wolfgang-Martin Boerner, renowned researcher in remote sensing and polarimetric imaging radar

27 June 2018

Wolfgang-Martin Boerner
 Wolfgang-Martin Boerner

SPIE Fellow Wolfgang-Martin Boerner, professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), passed away 25 May in Northbrook, Illinois (USA). He was 80 years old.

Born in 1937 in Finschhafen, Papua New Guinea to Lutheran missionaries, Boerner and his family returned to their homeland of Germany after the war. He graduated from the Technical University of Munich in 1963 and in that same year moved to the United States on a Fulbright Scholarship. He earned his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and in 1978 joined the UIC faculty in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, where he remained until his death, as Professor Emeritus.

Boerner was an eminent researcher in the general area of electromagnetics, especially in remote sensing and polarimetric imaging radar. His work propelled the development of polarimetric synthetic aperture radars, research, and applications.

In a news release issued by UIC, Jon A. Solworth, associate professor of computer science said, “For many years, decades, in fact, Wolfgang Boerner occupied the lab next to mine. He was a remarkable man, and I’m greatly saddened to hear of our loss. Wolfgang was always fighting the good fight and was widely respected and active in his work on sensing. I would always see him, even deep into his retirement, either coming from or going on another international trip, often for environmental studies. He will be greatly missed.”

Boerner was a highly honored scientist, a Fellow of IEEE, IEICE, and OSA. He became an SPIE Fellow in 1999. In addition to his research contributions, he was also recognized for his involvement with SPIE serving as conference and session chairs at SPIE events, editing SPIE proceedings, and presenting and publishing his work with SPIE dozens of times.

Boerner is survived by his wife of 50 years, Eileen, three children, and two grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother and family in Germany. As stated in his obituary, "Wolfgang was loved by many people around the world and leaves behind many friends."