Forbes, Andrew

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Prof. Andrew Forbes

Distinguished Professor
Univ. of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Fellow Member

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Area of Expertise: Laser resonators, orbital angular momentum, Laser beam shaping, quantum entanglement, vortex and non-diffracting beams
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Andrew studied Physics at the University of Natal and received his PhD in 1998 in lasers/optics while working at the Atomic Energy Corporation on laser-based Uranium Enrichment. From 1999 he spent several years working in a start-up, where he helped build a private laser company from humble beginnings of just a few friends, to an enterprise employing more than 70 staff. The products are now in use at blue chip institutes around the world, including Lockheed Martin (USA), BAE (UK), ENEA (Italy), NASA (USA) and Dassault (France). The company won many technology awards, attracted significant local and foreign investment, and in 2011 was purchased outright by the USA enterprise Par Systems Inc.

In 2005 Andrew decided to return to more research orientated activities and joined the CSIR National Laser Centre where he started two new research groups: first the User Facility – a set of laboratories for advancing photonics in South Africa through engagement with local universities, and later in 2007 the Mathematical Optics group. During this time Andrew pioneered the use of digital holography for the creation and detection of optical modes, resulting in many high profile journal papers, patents and commercialisation projects. In 2015 Andrew joined the University of the Witwatersrand on the Distinguished Professor programme and has started a new laboratory that focuses on Structured Light and its applications.

Andrew has served on several international conference committees and leadership panels (SPIE, OSA, IEEE), and serves on the editorial board of Optics Express and J. Optics. Andrew is an elected member of the Academy of Science of South Africa, a founding member of the Photonics Initiative of South Africa, and a Fellow of both SPIE and the OSA. Andrew and his students have won over 70 awards for outstanding contributions to science. In 2015 Andrew won the special NSTF Photonics award for his contribution to the field over the past decade.
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