Members in the News

Members Make Discover Magazine List

Each year Discover magazine chooses their "Top 100 Science Stories" of the previous year. Of course a plethora of the 2006 science breakthroughs involved optics and photonics, and undoubtedly many participants in the breakthroughs were SPIE members, but this year three SPIE members were called out by name.

A team of researchers from Intel Corp. (Santa Clara, CA) and the University of California, Santa Barbara, demonstrated the world's first electrically pumped hybrid silicon laser, earning Number 89 on the magazine's list. The device successfully integrates the light-emitting capabilities of indium phosphide with silicon. The hybrid silicon laser is a key enabler for silicon photonics, and will be integrated into silicon photonic chips that could facilitate the creation of optical "data pipes" carrying terabits of information. The Discover article called out SPIE Member John Bowers, of UC Santa Barbara, as the co-inventor. Other SPIE members on the team are Mario Paniccia and Oded Cohen, both of Intel.

Number 87-slowing light so far to send it backwards-is credited to SPIE Member Robert Boyd and his team at the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY). Boyd designed the experiment that sent a pulse of light through a single optical fiber doped with erbium, and before its peak even entered the fiber, it was exiting the other end. Through experiments he was able to see that the pulse inside the fiber was actually moving backward, linking the input and output pulses.

Coming in at 83 was the creation of a microscopic device that can create an electrical connection to an individual neuron, which could possibly lead to synthetic substitutes for damaged nerve cells. SPIE Member Charles M. Lieber, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA), led the research to create the 20-nm-wide device, which can record, stimulate, and modulate signals from individual dendrites to axons on a neuron. This creates a natural interface between biological systems and nanoelectronic systems, mimicking the way brain cells communicate.

Read the rest of the "Top 100 Science Stories of 2006" at

Boppart Named Mills Breast Cancer Institute Director

Stephen A. Boppart, an SPIE member and associate professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been named director of the Mills Breast Cancer Institute. Set to open in spring 2008, the institute will include clinical services provided by Carle Clinic Association physicians and research conducted in partnership with the University of Illinois.

Boppart, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, bioengineering, and medicine, is currently conducting research at Carle Foundation Hospital. He and his team of scientists have developed a new approach to imaging that, using optical coherence tomography, could help doctors find tumors in the operating room or during biopsy procedures.

While director of the new institute, Boppart will continue his role as associate professor at the University of Illinois as well as his research into new imaging techniques.

SPIE Members Team Up for Optics DVD

A dozen SPIE members have joined together on a DVD for children produced by SPIE with support from the OSA. "Optics: Light at Work" is a DVD aimed at children ages 12 and 13 to generate awareness of, and interest in, the field of optics and the career opportunities it offers.

The 15-min. video features comments from members Richard Hoover, Nkorni Katte, Elka Koehler, Tanya Kosc, Carlos López-Mariscal, Ducan Moore, Marc Nantel, Gloria Putnam, Yana Williams, Kateryna Yablochkova, Rich Youngworth, and Maria Yzuel, interspersed with footage of real-world applications. The goal for this DVD is to provide a very general overview of what can be done with optics and to encourage kids to explore the possibilities.

The DVDs are available free from SPIE. If you are interested in receiving a copy, email Pascale Barnett at

John Mather Wins Nobel Prize in Physics

SPIE member John C. Mather of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center won the 2006 Nobel Prize for physics, awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Mather shares the prize with George F. Smoot of the University of California for their collaborative work on understanding the Big Bang.

Mather and Smoot analyzed data from NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE), which studied the pattern of radiation from the first few instants after the universe was formed. In 1992, the COBE team announced that they had mapped the primordial hot and cold spots in the cosmic microwave background radiation. These spots are related to the gravitational field in the early universe, only instants after the Big Bang, and are the seeds for the giant clusters of galaxies that stretch hundreds of millions of light years across the universe.

Mather joined the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, to head the COBE mission as project scientist. He has been a Goddard Fellow since 1994 and currently serves as senior project scientist and chair of the Science Working Group of the James Webb Space Telescope Mission.

He received the George W. Goddard Award from SPIE in 2005. The award recognizes exceptional achievement in optical or photonic instrumentation for aerospace, atmospheric science, or astronomy. Mather has received numerous awards and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read an interview with John Mather on the SPIE Newsroom at

Giancarlo Righini Heads New CNR Department

Following a recent restructuring of the National Research Council of Italy (CNR), which created 11 national departments, SPIE Board of Directors member Giancarlo Righini was appointed director of the CNR Department of Materials and Devices (DMD). In his role, he responds directly to CNR president, Fabio Pistella.

The mission of DMD is to coordinate and establish priorities for the research activities carried out at 13 CNR institutes located in various Italian cities.

Before assuming his new position, Righini was research director at the Nello Carrara Institute of Applied Physics in Florence, another CNR institute that is part of the DMD Department.

Pisart Vision Award Goes to Eli Peli

SPIE member Eli Peli has received the Lighthouse International 2006 Pisart Vision Award. The juried award and $10,000 grant was established in 1981 in memory of Madame Georgette Pisart, and recognizes individuals who have made noteworthy contributions to the prevention, cure, or amelioration of severe vision impairment or blindness.

Peli is senior scientist and the Moakley Scholar in Aging Eye Research at the Schepens Eye Research Institute (Boston, MA), and professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School (Cambridge, MA). He was recognized for applying biomedical engineering and clinical vision care to eradicating low vision problems. In particular he was acknowledged for his discovery of a preferred retinal locus, which has become integral to rehabilitation of patients with age-related macular degeneration, and for creating image enhancement techniques and vision multiplexing.

Hall Wins Microsoft Challenge Grand Prize

Ernie Hall, SPIE Fellow and director of the University of Cincinnati Center for Robotics (Cincinnati, OH), won the grand prize in Microsoft's "Made in Express" contest. The $10,000 prize was awarded to Hall for creating an autonomous robot using Microsoft products such as Visual Studio Express and SQL Server Express.

The contest consisted of two parts; in the first, participants pitched their project ideas, and then 12 finalists were selected by judges to complete their projects. Hall's winning project consists of a robotic vehicle that autonomously navigates terrain using cameras, 3-D stereo vision, laser scanner, digital compass, GPS, and artificial intelligence.

Yoseph Bar-Cohen Receives NASA Honor Award Medal

Yoseph Bar-Cohen of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL; Pasadena, CA) recently received the NASA Honor Award Medal for Exceptional Technology Achievement for his work and contributions to the field of electroactive polymer actuators, or artificial muscles.

Two notable discoveries of Bar-Cohen are leaky Lamb waves and polar backscattering phenomena in composite materials.

SPIE Fellow Bar-Cohen is the editor of two SPIE Press books: Electroactive Polymer (EAP) Actuators as Artificial Muscles: Reality, Potential, and Challenges and Biologically Inspired Intelligent Robots. He has also received two SPIE Smart Structures & Materials/NDE Symposium Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Vo-Dinh Named Director of Fitzpatrick Institute for Photonics

Tuan Vo-Dinh has been appointed director of the Fitzpatrick Institute of Photonics at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering (Durham, NC).

SPIE Fellow Vo-Dinh says he plans to build on the Fitzpatrick Institute faculty's strengthsbiophotonics, optical materials, and quantum information technologyas well as expand into new areas like nanophotonics. One of the institute's goals is to emphasize translational research activities that put technology into the service of society.

"Photonics has been at the heart of the information technology revolution, and it can have similar impact in many critical areas such as medicine at the point-of-care, molecular manufacturing, national defense and global health," says Vo-Dinh.

"We are very fortunate to have Tuan join us at Duke," says dean of the Pratt School of Engineering and SPIE board of directors member Kristina Johnson. "He cares very deeply about people and in making a difference."

Vo-Dinh was previously the director of the Center for Advanced Biomedical Photonics at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge, TN).

Vo-Dinh has won seven R&D 100 Awards, and holds more than 30 patents. He will chair this year's SPIE Optics East Symposium.

Townes Awarded 2006 Vannevar Bush Award

The National Science Board has awarded Charles H. Townes a Vannevar Bush Award for his lifetime contributions to science and his long-standing statesmanship in science on behalf of the nation.

Townes is considered the father of quantum electronics, and shares a Nobel Prize in physics with Alexander M. Prokhorov and Nikolai Basov. Among many accomplishments, he invented the maser, was vice president and director of research of The Institute for Defense Analysis (1959-61), vice-chair of the Science Advisory Committee to the President of the United States, and chaired the Advisory Committee for the first human landing on the moon. Still active in his 90s, he has spent the past 39 years at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Science Board is a 24-member body of policy advisors to the president and Congress on matters of science and engineering research, and is the policy making and oversight body for the National Science Foundation.

Shoop Named U.S. Science Advisor

Colonel Barry L. Shoop was recently named science advisor to retired Army General Montgomery Meigs, director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) in Arlington, VA.

SPIE Fellow Shoop is currently the director of the Electrical Engineering Program at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY, and will serve in the capacity of science advisor for one year.

The organization was originally established as a task force in 2003 but as U.S. service members have continued to fall to the simple but deadly devices, this has become a top Pentagon priority. The newly renamed Joint IED Defeat Organization now has over 300 employees and in excess of a $3 billion budget.

Shoop has served as chair of the Conference on Education and Training in Optics and Photonics.

Shoop would like the input of the technical community with IED detection and defeat. To volunteer, contact Shoop at

Fujimoto Elected to National Academy of Sciences

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has elected James G. Fujimoto (Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Cambridge, MA) as part of its newest class of 72 members for his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

"Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors in American science and engineering," says Ralph Cicerone, president of the Academy.

The total number of active members is now 2,013. The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare.

Woodward Awarded for Her UK Work

Ruth Woodward was honored during the 2006 British Female Inventors & Innovators Awards with a Gold Award for her PhD research on imaging skin cancer.

Nominated in the category of Information Technology Electronics & Commerce (ITEC) Innovators, she was given the award for her endurance and determination while working on her PhD and turning this work into her own company, HT Consultants Ltd.

"Ruth Woodward sets a great example and role model," says Elizabeth Pollitzer of ITSynergy (London, UK). "She has been promoting UK technology in a challenging and demanding environment, representing the UK industry at an international level, and has succeeded in doing so globally."

Woodward was a session chair on Terahertz Spectroscopy at this year's Photonics West, and is chair of the SPIE Standards Committee.

Chu New CAS Academician

SPIE Member JunHao Chu, Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics, China, has been elected a Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Academician. In this most recent induction of academicians, 51 scientists and researchers were given this honor.

The CAS reviewed the research achievements and ethics performance of 295 candidates. The ceiling for the inductions, every two years, is 60 new academicians.

Lu Yongxiang, CAS president and chair of the governing body for CAS academicians, says, "The newly elected need to continue their research as well as provide advice to policy-makers on scientific research development and social advancement."

Pessa Elected to the NEA

The U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has elected SPIE member Markus V. Pessa, professor and research director at the Optoelectronics Research Centre at Tampere University of Technology in Finland, as a foreign associate.

This year the NAE elected nine new foreign associates, which brings the total number of foreign associates to 186. Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer.

Pessa was elected for outstanding contributions to optoelectronic devices, and for exceptional leadership in establishing new semiconductor industries in Finland.

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