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In memoriam: David Casasent, SPIE Past President, researcher, mentor

22 January 2016

David Casasent
David Casasent, professor
emeritus at
Carnegie Mellon
University and 1993
SPIE President,
is mourned by colleagues,
and family following his death
November; above, a photo from

his presidential year.

David Casasent, SPIE Past President and professor emeritus at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), is mourned by SPIE colleagues and friends. A prolific and accomplished researcher and author in optical image processing and a valued, friend, mentor, and teacher, Dr. Casasent died on 16 November near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was 72.

With a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois, Casasent began a 40-year career at CMU in 1969. He was named George Westinghouse Chair in 1980 and served as president of SPIE in 1993. He served as president of the International Neural Network Society in 1999, was awarded the SPIE President's Award in 1996, and was a Fellow of SPIE, the IEEE, and the Optical Society of America.

"Dave was president during my first term on the SPIE Board of Directors," said Brian Culshaw, SPIE President himself in 2007 and emeritus professor at the University of Strathclyde. "He made we rather apprehensive newcomers very welcome indeed and smoothed the path wonderfully well.  He was a great character to have had around and contributed much to his community. It is a great pleasure to have known him."

Other SPIE Past Presidents also recalled Casasent's contributions to the society, his university, the optics and photonics community, and his field.

"I first knew David from his very valuable papers and research in optical image processing," said María Yzuel, emeritus professor at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and president of the society in 2009. "I met him for the first time at an SPIE conference. His talks were always very lively and very inspiring. Following him as a member of the SPIE board, I could see his important contributions."

Andrew Tescher, SPIE President in 1982, recalled many collaborations with Casasent.

"David was an old friend," Dr. Tescher said. "His output was truly phenomenal both in quality and quantity. He could write an outstanding paper at the airport while waiting for a delayed flight. Our several collaborative efforts were rewarding, though sometimes frustrating. I will never forget working with him on a special issue of Optical Engineering, when he severely criticized me for not being familiar with a Japanese publication, which was published only in Japanese!"

Casasent is survived by his wife, Paula; daughters Candace MacPherson, Erin Glancey, and Maurine Klein; sons Todd Casasent and Jon Casasent; and their families.

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