Tom Baur receives SPIE 2018 G. G. Stokes Award

The founder and chairman of Meadowlark Optics was honored at the Annual Awards Banquet at SPIE 2018 Optics + Photonics in San Diego

23 August 2018

Tom Baur wins SPIE 2018 G.G. Stokes Award

SPIE President-Elect Jim Oschmann with SPIE 2018 G.G. Stokes Award winner Tom Baur

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA and CARDIFF, UK - Tom Baur, chairman of Meadowlark Optics received the 2018 SPIE G.G. Stokes Award yesterday evening at a ceremony during SPIE 2018 Optics + Photonics in San Diego. The founder of Meadowlark Optics was honored for a lifetime of leadership in polarization optical components, and for revolutionizing the polarization field through commercialization of liquid crystal variable retarders (LCVRs).

"LCVRs represent a revolutionary technology that was brought to the commercial market by Tom Baur and Meadowlark Optics," says SPIE Fellow Joseph Shaw, director of the Optical Technology Center at Montana State University. "LCVRs have dramatically improved measurements across a wide range of research fields ranging from solar physics to biology. Tom is a superb example of scientist-turned-entrepreneur, and I strongly believe we need to recognize his accomplishments and thereby excite the next generations of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs."

In 1979, Baur was working as a researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, he lead a project in measuring the magnetic fields in the sun's spots. Out of necessity - that much-lauded mother of invention - he developed a Pockel's Cell for his own work and to meet the project demands of other astronomers. Based on the success of this optical device, Baur launched Meadowlark Optics as an afterhours venture in a spare bedroom of his Colorado home; Meadowlark has since expanded into a large manufacturing facility known for innovative, ultrahigh-quality polarization optics.

As SPIE Fellow, University of Central Florida Pegasus Professor and 2008 G.G. Stokes Award winner Shin-Tson Wu has noted, under Baur's leadership, Meadowlark has been recognized with multiple industry awards over, including being a five‐time awardee of the Photonics Spectra Circle of Excellence Award. In 2005, Meadowlark was recognized as the Northern Colorado Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2012, R&D Magazine issued a R&D 100 Award jointly to Meadowlark and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for a device utilized in the US National Ignition Facility. And In 2016, the Colorado Photonics Industry Association honored Meadowlark as The Photonics Company of the Year.

"Tom Baur has advanced technology applied to polarization optics for nearly five decades," said David Elmore, astronomer emeritus at the National Solar Observatory. "Without Tom, our understanding of solar magnetic fields through the use state-of-the-art polarization measurement techniques would be nowhere near where it is now."

The SPIE G.G. Stokes Award is given annually for exceptional contributions to the field of optical polarization.

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