Sona Hosseini: The 2020 SPIE Early Career Achievement Award – Government/Industry Focus
An early-career planetary scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Sona Hosseini's innovative optical design work led her to invent a new generation of 100-gram, ultra-miniature spatial heterodyne spectrometers. As a graduate student, she developed a spatial heterodyne spectrometer (SHS) for the Lick Observatory. At JPL, she continues to develop the ultra-compact, high-sensitivity spectrometers that can obtain key measurements in far-UV to IR wavelengths from space exploration missions.
Today, her instruments are used in multiple NASA mission concept studies and robotic platforms. She leads and works with a team of more than 30 scientists, engineers, software developers, and students building a miniature SHS for NASA's lunar missions. Her instruments are an enabling technology for future Earth, Planetary, and Astrophysics missions to measure the fundamental spectral signatures such as the deuterium-to-hydrogen (D/H) ratio (308nm) for the Solar System, moons, and comets with the aim of discovering the origins of water on Earth.
Discovering SPIE as a graduate student through Photonics West, Hosseini revived the UC Davis student chapter and became its president, raising its activities profile substantially. Today, she is a member of the SPIE Scholarship and Publication Committees and has served as Chair of the SPIE Future Leaders Committee. She is also active in professional, industry, and educational outreach, giving presentations to students in schools and local community clubs.
"Dr. Hosseini is one of the most talented researchers I know," says 2019-2020 SPIE/OSA Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow and laser scientist Christina C. C. Willis. "She has already accomplished some amazing technical feats at this early point in her career: her work is enabling a leap forward in future space exploration, and its value and significance have been demonstrated by her results, publications, and advancement into a leadership role at JPL. In addition to her technical achievements, Hosseini has mentored more than 60 students: she is an inspirational role model to young women pursuing the technical-instrument world that bridges science and engineering."