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Photonics people mattered in 2011, says Nature

06 January 2012

SPIE members, authors and friends were among Nature Magazine's list of "scientists who mattered" in 2011. Their photonics-based contributions are part of what the magazine calls "the fascinating fabric of scientific research."

Nature highlighted SPIE member John Rogers for work on flexible electronics. One of his spinoff companies produced a product to measure an athlete's kinetic health and well-being that will be launched by Reebok in 2012. He is also researching ways to provide doctors with improved diagnostic maps by producing membranes studded with electrodes that wrap around the brain. Rogers started producing commercial products with the InSite 300 -- designed to shine laser light on thin films and listen for an acoustic echo -- sold to a California firm in 1996.

A professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Rogers is a frequent participant in SPIE symposia, and has published more than 15 papers in the SPIE Digital Library. His most recent research, "Bio-integrated electronics," will be presented at SPIE Smart Structures where he will also be a session chair for "EAP as Emerging Actuators."

Sara Seager, MIT astronomer and plenary speaker at SPIE Astronomical Instrumentation 2010, was singled out by Nature for her work with the Kepler Space Telescope at NASA. She looks toward finding Earth-like planets close enough to study their atmospheres. The Kepler can determine a planet's size and orbital radius, but she wants to search for planets with biological activity or oxygen, which she hopes to accomplish with a fleet of "ExoplanetSats."

Seager has also published numerous papers with SPIE, including 19 presented at SPIE Astronomical Instrumentation and SPIE Optics + Photonics.

Looking ahead, Nature mentioned NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Paul Mahaffy as someone to watch in 2012 for his work on a Mars Science Rover instrument to detect methane gas. Mahaffy has authored seven papers published in the SPIE Digital Library and presented at SPIE conferences.

The article also highlighted Lisa Jackson (US Environmental Protection Agency) for her leadership of the EPA, resisting attempts to dilute environmental regulations and issuing a scientific assessment declaring that greenhouse gases pose a threat to human health and welfare. Another honoree was Mike Lamont of CERN for his work coordinating the Large Hadron Collider operations group.

Read the full Nature article.