Agrawal, Standish Awarded Top SPIE Scholarships

01 July 2007
Erin M. Schadt
D. J. Lovell Scholarship Goes to Amit Agrawal

Amit Agrawal, PhD student at the University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT), is the 2007 recipient of the D. J. Lovell Scholarship. This $11,000 scholarship is the Society’s most prestigious scholarship.

Agrawal is a member of SPIE, the OSA, and IEEE Lasers and Electro-Optics Society.

He earned his bachelor’s of engineering from Bhilai Institute of Technology in India, then completed his MS at the University of Utah in 2005. His most recent research is focused on terahertz characterization and applications of artificial resonant structures.

“In particular, my current research is focused on fabricating and understanding plasmonic metamaterials and coming up with unique and useful applications based on these structures,” explains Agrawal, who’s authored more than three dozen papers.

“I have recently demonstrated the ability to arbitrarily alter the spectral and temporal properties of terahertz pulses using structured metal films. This was only possible after our work on developing a complete time-domain model to explain the phenomenon of enhanced optical transmission through a periodic array of subwavelength apertures, as originally demonstrated by [Thomas] Ebbesen and coworkers. Based on these results, I am currently working on extending these concepts toward development of surface-plasmon-based waveguide devices that can be used in real-world terahertz applications.”

Agrawal has been a teaching assistant for the entirety of his graduate studies and now wants to increase his research time. “This scholarship will help offset the necessity of obtaining a teaching assistantship and allow me to focus more on my research,” he says. Agrawal also cites the need to travel to conferences to present his work, which the scholarship will help fund.

He describes his professional aspirations as two-pronged: he wants to work on developing application-oriented technologies and also on education. “I chose these two bases to guide my career because they are the most direct ways in which I can use my scientific and technical abilities to contribute to the greater society.”

Read more about Agrawal's recent research in the SPIE Newsroom article "Aperiodic aperture arrays as terahertz plasmonic metamaterials." 

Beau Standish Awarded $10,000 SPIE Scholarship

The recipient of the 2007 $10,000 SPIE Scholarship in Optical Science and Engineering is Beau Standish, a medical biophysics PhD student at the University of Toronto, Canada.

He earned a bachelors of engineering in physics from McMaster University (Hamilton, Canada), and then spent two years in the optoelectronics industry.

Standish is now at the University of Toronto studying photodynamic therapy (PDT) effects in tissue through the use of Doppler optical coherence tomography (DOCT). PDT is an emerging treatment for prostate cancer, but measuring an individual’s response to PDT is difficult because results can vary so widely.

“The goal of this PhD research is to develop a 3D interstitial (IS)-DOCT imaging system capable of quantifying the response of PDT with blood flow metrics such as rate of vascular response, volumetric blood flow, flow velocity, and vessel architecture. My overall career objectives include bringing my 3D IS-DOCT system from the lab environment into the clinical setting.”

He will use the scholarship to cover graduate school tuition costs and to travel beyond regional conferences. “Feedback obtained from presenting and discussing my research with the scientific community will result in an iterative design process yielding an optical system that may play an important role in pre-treatment planning, feedback control for treatment optimization, and post treatment assessment of PDT in prostate cancer.”

Standish actively shares his love of science with the community. “I have always enjoyed teaching and promoting science to elementary school students,” he says. “I share this excitement about my own research and take every opportunity to present my research to the public in settings such as student seminars.” He’s traveled as part of a student group to local elementary schools to teach basic principles of science, worked at a science and engineering camp, and currently volunteers time at two local schools as a guest speaker and science fair judge.

Erin M. Schadt
SPIE Professional Managing Editor

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