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Optical Design & Engineering

In memoriam: Jean M. Bennett

Jean M. Bennett, an authority on optical surfaces, roughness, and characterization, died on July 18, 2008 in Ridgecrest, CA after a long illness. She was 78.

Bennett received her PhD in phyiscs from Pennsylvania State University in 1955, and spent most of her career at the Naval Weapons Center (now the Naval Air Warfare Center) at China Lake, CA.

She received the SPIE Technology Achievement Award in 1983 for "the development of practical instrumentation for optical surface quality metrology, and for dedicated service and guidance to the optics industry." She received the David Richardson Medal from the Optical Society of America (OSA) in 1990, after serving as OSA president in 1986. In 1994 she was named a Distinguished Fellow of the Naval Weapons Center. In 1988 the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology established the Jean Bennett Award, given annually to a senior for excellence in optics.

M. J. Soileau, Vice President for Research & Commercialization at the University of Central Florida and SPIE Past President, was a former colleague of Bennett's at the Naval Weapons Center.

"She was such a wonderful person, dedicated to science, and most specifically, optics," Soileau said. "I have many fond memories working with her during my time at the Navy Michelson Lab at China Lake. Among her many interest was the works of the Lab’s namesake, Albert Michelson. Like him, Jean was devoted to precision measurements using optics."

Bennett was an avid outdoorswoman, said Soileau, whose family accompanied her on many trips. "Jean was as meticulous in her hobbies as her science. Back in the days of Super-8 movies, she would document her many wilderness hikes and float trips. The final product of a trip was an expertly edited film of the adventure."

In 2003 and 2005 Bennett presented invited papers at SPIE symposia on cleaning optical surfaces:

At her request, no services will be held.