Shouleh Nikzad: The 2021 SPIE Aden and Marjorie Meinel Technology Achievement Award
SPIE Fellow Shouleh Nikzad is known internationally for her contributions to ultraviolet, optical, and near-infrared technologies, particularly detectors. Her leadership in inventions and developments of high-performance detectors through surface and interface nano-engineering such as 2D-doped silicon detectors as well as advanced coatings for optics and filter technologies, is transforming UV instrumentation and having a significant scientific impact on UV astrophysics and planetary science. Her development of high-performance detectors has enabled UV astrophysics in CubeSat platforms, such as the Star-Planet Activity Research CubeSat (SPARCS) and the Gravitational-wave UV Counterpart Imager (GUCI).
An active member of SPIE since 1994, Nikzad sits on the Society's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) committee as well as on its Senior Member committee. She also served on the SPIE Engineering, Science & Technology Policy committee. She has led special sections in two SPIE journals, Neurophotonics and the Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems (JATIS), and is currently an associate editor for JATIS. She has served as a co-chair for the SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation Symposium and was instrumental in forming an active partnership between SPIE and the Society for Brain Mapping and Therapeutics (SBMT). In 2020, she was honored with NASA's Outstanding Leadership Medal.
"I started graduate school in astrophysics with the idea that it would be fun to work on instruments, but I didn't have a lot of direction," says Erika Hamden, an associate professor at the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory. "Mostly by chance, I started a project in 2008 which involved developing UV anti-reflection coatings for detectors with a team at JPL, led by Dr. Nikzad. She welcomed me and provided me with enough information to start doing self-directed research. This by itself is a great skill; Dr. Nikzad is able to provide students with a problem that is important, commensurate with their level of understanding, and achievable on a short timeline. My work on this AR-coating project was the beginning of a working partnership that now spans more than a decade. Yes, Dr. Nikzad has revolutionized the fields of space and stratospheric UV science, with significant contributions in detector, mirror, and instrument technology. Her work spans disciplines, providing enabling technology in astrophysics, planetary science, and beyond. She is an innovative thinker, a highly skilled manager of teams, and a lovely person."