The Up and Coming Stars of Tomorrow

These 12 early-career professionals represent the broad spectrum and reach of photonics.

01 April 2019

Now in its third year, the SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing Rising Researcher program recognizes early-career professionals who are conducting outstanding work in product development or research in the areas of defense, commercial, and scientific sensing, imaging, optics, or related fields.

The honor of being identified as a Rising Researcher is hard won: these individuals must show a record of service and leadership, demonstrate how their work advances science or product development, and be able to communicate how their work fits into the broader story of science.

SPIE Fellow Tom George is CEO of SaraniaSat Inc. and was a member of the 2019 selection committee. "I believe that there are very few incentives to recognize young talent before they have accumulated a career's worth of experience," he says. "The Rising Researcher program is an excellent way to identify the up and coming stars of tomorrow and encourage them to continue their record of excellence in research."

The 2019 Rising Researchers will be acknowledged at DCS in Baltimore, Maryland, in April, where they will all present papers.

"DCS is a unique symposium that covers the entire technology readiness level (TRL) scale, from low-TRL research concepts to high-TRL systems," says George. "DCS is an excellent forum to showcase Rising Researchers because on the one hand, the low-TRL researchers can envision the new and exciting systems of tomorrow that will be enabled by their work, while the high-TRL researchers can get a glimpse of the new concepts that are "coming down the pike" for them to work on in the future. DCS is a one-of-a-kind forum hosting the entire technology development ecosystem under one roof."

These individuals are to be congratulated for making an early impact on the optics and photonics field.

Meet the 2019 DCS Rising Researchers:

2019 Rising ResearchersGiulia Acconcia, Politecnico di Milano (Italy)

Paper: "Fast fully integrated active quenching circuit for single photon counting up
to 160 Mcounts/s"

Giulia Acconcia received her MA in electronics engineering, and her PhD, with honors, in information technology, electronics area, both from Politecnico di Milano. She is currently a postdoc researcher at Politecnico di Milano. Her main research interests concern the design and development of integrated circuits for read-out,
signal routing, and timing to achieve high-performance with single-photon
avalanche diodes.

Darryl Boyd, US Naval Research Laboratory (USA)

Paper: "Fabrication of high refractive index, infrared transmitting organically modified chalcogenide (ORMOCHALC) polymers"

Darryl A. Boyd is a research chemist in the Optical Sciences Division at the US Naval Research Laboratory. His research focuses on the development of novel chalcogenide-based optical polymers for use in defense sensing and detection. Boyd received his BS in chemistry from the University of Michigan, and his MS and PhD degrees from Purdue University. Away from the lab, he runs the website, where he posts simple science videos geared toward inspiring young people to pursue careers in science.

Stephen Andrew Gadsden, University of Guelph (Canada)

Paper: "An adaptive smooth variable structure filter"

Stephen Andrew Gadsden is an assistant professor in mechanical engineering at the University of Guelph, where he is also the director of the Intelligent Control and Estimation (ICE) Laboratory. His team is targeting the development of new control methods that enable robustness to disturbances and uncertainties, while providing accurate and stable system control; creating and testing novel estimation strategies that provide improved performance in the presence of system and measurement nonlinearities; and developing autonomy in the area of cognitive systems by utilizing machine-learning techniques.

Stefan Heist, Friedrich Schiller University (Germany)

Paper: "Pattern projection in the short-wave infrared (SWIR): accurate, eye-safe 3D shape measurement"

Stefan Heist is the leader of a junior research group at the Institute of Applied Physics at the Friedrich Schiller University, and a research associate at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering. He received his diploma and PhD degrees in physics from the Friedrich Schiller University in 2011 and 2017, respectively. His research interests focus on the application of new wavelengths for optical 3D shape measurement, the development of high-speed pattern projectors, and the simulation-based optimization of structured-light techniques.

Juejun Hu, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA)

Paper: "Reshaping light: reconfigurable photonics enabled by broadband low-loss optical phase change materials"

SPIE Member Juejun Hu received his BS from Tsinghua University in 2004 and his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2009, both in materials science and engineering. He is currently an associate professor in MIT's Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Prior to joining MIT, he was an assistant professor at the University of Delaware from 2010 to 2014. He has authored and coauthored more than 90 refereed journal publications.

April Jewell, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (USA)

Paper: "Advanced technology enabling CubeSat and Flagship missions"

April Jewell is a technologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory where she focuses on design, development, and implementation of surface-passivation techniques and thin-film coatings for silicon-based imagers that meet project/mission specific objectives. She holds a PhD from Tufts University and a BS from George Washington University, both in chemistry. Jewell has spent the majority of her career endeavoring to understand how atoms and electrons get from point A to point B, and how photons interact with matter. Her work has resulted in more than 60 publications, including three book chapters and multiple patents.

Yong Lin Kong, University of Utah (USA)

Paper: "Multiscale additive manufacturing of electronics and biomedical devices"

Yong Lin Kong is an assistant professor at the University of Utah's Department of Mechanical Engineering. He received a BEng in mechanical engineering from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (2010), an MA in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton (2012), and a PhD in mechanical engineering and materials science (2016), also from Princeton. His research focuses on the fabrication of biomedical devices and the printing of nanomaterial-based functional devices. He is a recipient of the MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 Asia Pacific Award, Materials Research Society Graduate Student Award, and the Daniel & Florence Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.

Laura Na Liu, University of Heidelberg (Germany)

Paper: "A dynamic plasmonic system that responds to thermal and aptamer-target regulations"

Laura Na Liu is a full professor at the Kirchhoff Institute for Physics at University of Heidelberg. She works at the interface between nanoplasmonics, biology, and chemistry. Her group focuses on developing sophisticated and smart plasmonic nanosystems for addressing structural biology questions, as well as catalytic chemistry questions in local environments.

Uttam Majumder, Air Force Research Laboratory (USA)

Paper: "Deep learning for radio frequency civilian vehicles classification"

SPIE Member Uttam K. Majumder is a senior electronics engineer at Air Force Research Laboratory. He earned his PhD in electrical engineering from Purdue University. His research interests include machine learning for object recognition, high-performance computing, radar waveforms and systems design, and digital image processing. He has served as adjunct faculty and taught short courses at the SPIE DCS Symposium, the IEEE Radar conference, and at other IEEE events.

Andrés Marrugo, Universidad Tecnologica de Bolivar (Colombia)

Paper: "Wide-field 3D imaging with an LED pattern projector for accurate skin feature measurements via Fourier transform profilometry"

SPIE Member Andrés Marrugo is an associate professor in the Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar's Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, where he did his BEng in mechatronics engineering. He received his PhD in optical engineering and his MSc in photonics from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, and was the recipient of the Honours Diploma for Young Researchers from the Spanish Optical Society. His team innovates in optical technologies and develops methods for 2D and 3D image acquisition/analysis for biomedical and industrial applications.

Thanh Duc Nguyen, University of Connecticut (USA)

Paper: "Biodegradable piezoelectric force sensor"

Thanh Duc Nguyen is an assistant professor in the University of Connecticut's Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. His research is focused on the manufacturing and transformation of biodegradable surgical-suture polymers into special structures with "smart" functions for medical applications. Recently, he invented a platform technology to create 3D microstructures of medical polymers for single-administration vaccines, and developed a novel biodegradable piezoelectric device that can monitor intra-organ pressures and stimulate tissue growth. His work has been published in journals (Science, PNAS) and highlighted in media such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and BBC News.

Jamie Ramsey, Rochester Precision Optics (USA)

Paper: "Experimental verification of a MWIR/LWIR 3× continuous zoom lens"

SPIE Member Jamie Ramsey is an optical designer for Rochester Precision Optics. Her current interests lie in multispectral optics with a focus on achromatization and athermalization, and an emphasis on SWAP-c. Her design experience covers a broad range of commercial and military optical systems in the visible, MWIR, and LWIR wavelength regions. She holds a PhD from Strathclyde University in electrical and electronics engineering specializing in diffractive optics, and an MSc in condensed matter and materials physics from the University of Ottawa. She supports STEM-related education, and volunteers as a reviewer for the Regeneron Science Talent Search.


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