SPIE President’s Corner

2017 SPIE President Glenn Boreman discusses optics careers and education.

01 January 2017

SPIE Fellow Glenn Boreman, the 2017 SPIE president, is chair of the Department of Physics and Optical Science and director of the Center for Optoelectronics & Optical Communications at University of North Carolina at Charlotte (USA). Boreman is also a cofounder and board chairman of Plasmonics Inc. in Orlando, FL (USA).

He served from 1984 to 2011 on the faculty at University of Central Florida (USA) and was named emeritus professor of optics at the College of Optics & Photonics (CREOL) there in 2014.

His research interests include infrared antenna-coupled sensors, infrared metamaterials, modulation transfer function, and optics of random media. He is author of Basic Electro-Optics for Electrical Engineers (SPIE Press, 1998), Fundamentos de Electro-Optica para Ingenieros (SPIE Press, 1999), Modulation Transfer Function in Optical & Electro-Optical Systems (SPIE Press, 2001) and coauthor (with SPIE 2012 President Eustace Dereniak) of Infrared Detectors and Systems, (Wiley, 1996).

Boreman began teaching courses for SPIE in 1987 and has served on the SPIE Board of Directors as well as the SPIE Education and Publications committees. He has served for 22 years in various editorial positions for the Optical Society of America (Applied Optics and Optics Express).

Boreman holds a BS from the Institute of Optics at University of Rochester (USA) and received his PhD from the Optical Sciences Center at University of Arizona (USA).

He is a registered professional engineer and has held visiting research positions with IT&T, Texas Instruments, US Army Night Vision Lab, US Army Redstone Arsenal, and McDonnell Douglas Astronautics.

He has been a visiting scholar at Imperial College in London, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich, Universidad Complutense in Madrid (Spain), the Defense Research Agency (FOI) in Sweden, and University of New Mexico (USA).

We asked Boreman to discuss his career path, education, and other interests with the members of SPIE.

Tell us a little bit about where you grew up, your family, hobbies, and interests.

I grew up about an hour east of Rochester, NY, and became interested in optics when I visited University of Rochester (UR) as a high-school senior. I was immediately hooked. For me, it has been the year of light ever since. My first job in optics was in the summer of my junior year at UR, at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics in Rochester, where I conducted interferometric testing of mirrors for the glass development laser (GDL). After graduation, I worked in fiber optics for a year at IT&T in Roanoke, VA, and then went to graduate school in Tucson.

My wife and I presently live on a farm about halfway between Charlotte and Greensboro, NC, where we breed and train Arabian horses. The Emerald Rose Farm is my favorite place in the whole world: a quiet, beautiful sanctuary. It takes me about an hour to drive to work at UNC Charlotte, but the drive is worth it.

What interested you in teaching and research?

I have always wanted to be a teacher, and classroom teaching is still very close to my heart. My teaching has included geometrical optics, physical optics, radiometry, and detectors, and most recently a course on research ethics. In research, my team has investigated how electron-beam lithography can be used to demonstrate in the infrared a variety of radio-frequency concepts such as antennas, transmission lines, frequency-selective surfaces, reflectarrays, and meander-line wave plates. Making the transition from a primarily research position at UCF to more of an administrative role at UNC Charlotte has been an interesting challenge. I particularly enjoy helping our faculty members make connections to colleagues in the larger optics community. We have some very strong research activities here in freeform optics fabrication, metrology, bio-optics, and photonics; and we have a vigorous graduate program with more than 50 PhD students. I am particularly happy to note that about one-third of our PhD students are women.

Tell us about the founding of Plasmonics in Florida.

Plasmonics Inc. is an outgrowth of my lab at UCF and was intended to commercialize some of the technologies we developed over the years. Two of my PhD graduates and I founded the firm in 2010, and we have developed some unique antenna-coupled diodes that are useful as high-speed, uncooled IR sensors, along with some specialty IR metamaterial solutions.

How and when did you first get involved with SPIE?

I was a student member of SPIE in graduate school in Arizona. I stayed involved with SPIE after going to Florida, and I became involved in teaching short courses at SPIE meetings early on. The SPIE community has always felt like home to me, and I can look back on a number of friends and colleagues whom I first met through our conferences. I am happy and honored to have the opportunity to serve as our 2017 president.

What are your priorities for your year as president of SPIE?

I very much enjoy outreach to our student chapters. Meeting with the students is always energizing and fun. One of my priorities this year is outreach to our optics colleagues in Latin America. I have traveled there quite a bit over the years, and my Spanish is getting better with each visit.

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