Alex Vitkin: The 2022 SPIE G.G. Stokes Award in Optical Polarization
Alex Vitkin's current positions as a professor of medical biophysics and radiation oncology at the University of Toronto, senior scientist in biophysics and bioimaging at the Ontario Cancer Institute, and radiation physicist at Toronto's Princess Margaret Cancer Centre showcase his leading role in the field of biomedical engineering and medical physics in general, and in biophotonics in particular. A few of the highlights of his professional life include pioneering advanced high-SNR polarimetric system architectures using phase modulation and synchronous detection based on photo-elastic modulators; creating a computational modeling platform to properly account for various polarization effects of light propagation in complex turbid media such as biological tissues; building a robust, low-cost and objective polarization microscopy module for assessing tumor stroma in a digital pathology context; and innovating the coupling of polarimetric approaches with a complementary technology based on mass spectroscopy that enables a more powerful and accurate hybrid tool for breast-cancer assessment.
The SPIE Fellow's many contributions to the wider scientific community include serving as a grant reviewer and on research-grant panels across the globe, as well as engaging actively with student researchers worldwide through the SPIE Visiting Lecturer and Optica Travelling Lecturer programs. He is a sought-after keynote and plenary speaker and has held a role on the SPIE Photonics Europe organizing committee multiple times. He is also known for his active participation with a rich range of peer-reviewed journals, from guest editing to manuscript review. Vitkin is the recipient of many awards and honors including the 2020 Sustained Excellence in Research Award from the University of Toronto's department of radiation oncology.
"Dr. Vitkin actively leads community efforts locally and internationally," says University of Wisconsin Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Morgridge Institute for Research Investigator Melissa Skala. "He has traveled extensively through the SPIE International Visiting Lecturer Program, and I have heard fantastic accounts of his engagement with students in these visits. He has also chaired several conferences supported by SPIE, including the Topical Problems in Biophotonics that I recently attended and found to be the best conference of the year. I have served as an external thesis examiner for one of his PhD students, who performed phenomenally and was clearly well mentored. Dr. Vitkin has received graduate mentoring awards and I have personally benefitted from his advice over the past 15 years. He has been a generous community member who sincerely cares about the development of junior scientists, sharing ideas across international borders, rigorous insightful science, and moving innovation forward. Ultimately, he is the fantastic mix of colleague, scholar, and innovator who inspires everyone to work together for the greater good."