Charles M. Vest is the inaugural winner of the Chandra S. Vikram Award in Optical Metrology.
Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering (USA), is receiving the award for his significant contributions to the mathematical analysis of holographic interferometry taken through flames and other 3D objects. He is also honored for major contributions to technology and engineering as president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the NAE and his service on numerous government advisory boards.
"I was surprised and honored," Vest said after learning he had received the award.
Vest's career in holographic interferometry was all about finding the right niche. In 1968, Vest accepted an appointment as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan where he earned his PhD. There, Vest decided to pursue research outside his original focus of heat transfer and fluid dynamics and hydrodynamic stability.
At the time, Emmett Leith and Juris Upatnieks were conducting their groundbreaking work in off-axis holography. Vest asked Leith and his team if he could do research in their laboratory to explore possible mechanical engineering applications of holography, and specifically holographic interferometry. They agreed, and Vest's work in the field began.
"Interestingly, I never had a course in optics at any time," Vest explains. "But one of the really attractive things about optics as a field is that it is full of scientists and engineers who come from diverse backgrounds in many different disciplines."
One of Vest's favorite projects was the determination of three-dimensional fields from interferograms and that the underlying mathematics was the Radon transform. "I enjoyed working out all the essentials of the field, including the apparent localization of fringes through very simple analysis with a minimum of complicated mathematics," Vest says.
The bulk of his career has been spent working as an administrator, in academia and government, to promote science and engineering. Vest, a former dean of Engineering at Michigan, was vice chair of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness for eight years and served on the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology during the Clinton and Bush administrations as well as several other security and higher education committees. Vest was awarded the 2006 National Medal of Technology by President Bush.
During his 14 years at MIT, Vest placed special emphasis on exploring new organizational forms to meet emerging directions in research and education, building a stronger international dimension into education and research programs, developing stronger relations with industry, and enhancing racial and cultural diversity.
He also has devoted considerable energy to bringing education and research issues to broader public attention and to strengthening national policy on science, engineering and education.
Vest is most proud of serving on the committee that produced a comprehensive agenda for American science, technology, education, and innovation policies. The committee's 2007 report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, was a blueprint for the America COMPETES Act.
Vest says the report "greatly impacted the last Bush research budget and resonates in the plans of the Obama administration."
Vest believes strongly in enhancing higher education and promoting science and math education.
"They are the absolute basis of the nation's ability to have a vibrant economy, good health, and security," Vest says. "Their impact has been huge, and they will be needed more than ever before as we transform to new economic models and compete in the knowledge-based global markets of this new century."
"This is a very exciting period in science and engineering," he adds. "Our expertise is needed more than ever."
Vest has authored a book on holographic interferometry and two books on higher education. He has 10 honorary doctoral degrees.
The Chandra S. Vikram Award in Optical Metrology recognizes exceptional contributions to the field and comes with a $2000 honorarium. It may be presented for a specific achievement, development, or invention of importance to optical metrology or may be given for lifetime achievement.
It is named for the research professor and expert in speckle metrology, holography, interferometry, and optical logic who died in 2007.
Other Award Winners
A.E. Conrady Award
Roland Winston, a professor at the University of California, Merced (USA), is the 2009 recipient of the A.E. Conrady Award in recognition of his prodigious achievements in non-imaging optics and his advancements in solar and illumination technology applications, including his Winston Series CPC Collector. This award recognizes exceptional contributions in design, construction, and testing of optical systems and instrumentation, without which the technology would not have progressed to its present state.
Dennis Gabor Award
Rajpal Sirohi, vice chancellor of Amity University Rajasthan (India), is the 2009 winner of the Dennis Gabor award in recognition of outstanding accomplishments in the science and technology of numerous aspects of holography, speckle metrology, interferometry, and confocal microscopy. The award is presented annually for outstanding accomplishments in diffractive wavefront technologies, especially those which further the development of holography and metrology applications.
George W. Goddard Award
Neil Gehrels, chief of the Astroparticle Physics Laboratory at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (USA), is this year's winner of the George W. Goddard award. Gehrels opened the new field of gamma-ray astronomy through his leadership of the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory and the Swift Mission. The Goddard Award is presented annually in recognition of exceptional achievement in optical or photonic instrumentation for aerospace, atmospheric science, or astronomy. The award is also for the invention and development of a new technique, photonic instrumentation, instrument, or system.
Frits Zernike Award In Microlithography
Chris Mack, developer of the Prolith suite of lithography simulation software, is the 2009 recipient of the Frits Zernike Award for Microlithography. Mack was recognized for the software development, for his contributions to the underlying principles upon which it is based, and for his dedication and success as a teacher and author. This award is given for outstanding accomplishments in microlithographic technology, especially those furthering the development of semiconductor lithographic imaging solutions.
SPIE Early Career Achievement Award
Marc Kuchner, an astronomer with the Laboratory for Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (USA), is the 2009 recipient of the SPIE Early Career Achievement award for his outstanding achievements in facilitating the detection and characterization of extra-solar planets. His invention and refinement of new telescope coronagraph masks provide astronomers with innovative tools needed to detect planets directly around bright stars. The Early Career Achievement Award, given for the first time in 2008, recognizes significant and innovative technical contributions to any of the engineering or scientific fields of interest to SPIE.
SPIE Educator Award
Fenna Hanes, senior director at the New England Board of Higher Education (USA), is the 2009 SPIE Educator Award winner in recognition of her leadership in several NSF-ATE programs. Her unfailing enthusiasm for optics/photonics technology has fostered the growth of optics education in secondary schools and colleges throughout the United States. The annual award honors outstanding contributions to optics education by an SPIE instructor or other educator.
SPIE Technology Achievement Award
James G. Grote, an SPIE Board Member and principal electronics research engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (USA), is the 2009 recipient of the SPIE Technology Achievement award in recognition of his outstanding contributions in the new field of biotronics- and biopolymer-based photonic and electronic materials and devices engineering. The annual Technology Achievement award is to recognize outstanding technical accomplishment in optics, electro-optics, photonic engineering, or imaging.
Späth Gets SPIE Visionary Award
h. c. Lothar Späth has been awarded the SPIE Visionary Award. The award recognizes his crucial support for photonics in the optical centre of Jena.
Späth was chairman of Jenoptik AG when it was established in 1991 as the legal successor to the previously publicly owned (VEB) Carl Zeiss Jena.
Späth was Chairman of Jenoptik AG when it was established in 1991 as the legal successor to the previously publicly owned (VEB) Carl Zeiss Jena. He had been charged with closing down the historic operation, but saw the industry's potential in the area, and instead reorganized and expanded the optical engineering company, transforming it into a public company listed in 1998.
Jenoptik's success and the restructuring of today's Carl Zeiss Jena helped revitalize the optics industry throughout the region. As a result, Jena, once the cradle of optical technology where Zeiss, Schott, and Abbe established a science- and technology-based industry from what had been essentially a craft, has since reclaimed its role as an innovative centre for optics.
Späth previously served as Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg, and later as the Royal Norwegian Consul General for Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt as well as President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of East Thuringia.
Read more about Späth's achievements and varied career.
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Nominations may be made through 1 October and will be considered active for three years from the submission date.
Award winner Charles Vest will discuss Why Science and Engineering Matter in the 21st Century at the SPIE Optics+Photonics awards banquet 5 August.