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Headwall Photonics, Inc., Special Projects Team Named Recipient of OSA’s 2019 Paul F. Forman Team E

17 September 2019

Headwall Photonics, Inc., Special Projects Team Named Recipient of OSA’s 2019 Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award

Team develops state-of-the-art spectrometer to monitor croplands and forests across the planet

WASHINGTON — The Optical Society (OSA) is pleased to announce that the Special Projects Team of Headwall Photonics Inc., U.S.A., has received the 2019 Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award.

The team is recognized for “the successful development of a compact, rugged, and lightweight imaging spectrometer, optimized for cost-effective airborne retrieval of chlorophyll fluorescence emission signatures monitoring plant health in near-real-time at simultaneously high spectral and spatial resolutions.”Blair_and_Gibson_headwall_photonics_forman_award_350x250.jpg

The 2019 award was presented at last night’s FiO + LS Award Ceremony and Reception, which is part of the OSA’s Frontiers in Optics (FiO) + Laser Science (LS) conference in Washington, D.C., U.S.A. David Blair, Headwall’s director of strategic programs, accepted the award on behalf of the team. A list of all team members is below.

“OSA is proud to honor the teamwork and innovation that created this new technology to improve the way we monitor the health of our planet’s ecosystems and global agriculture,” said 2019 OSA President Ursula Gibson.

The engineers and scientists working on the project delivered a state-of-the-art spectrometer, known as the Headwall Chlorophyll Fluorescence Sensor, for imaging solar-induced fluorescence (SIF). The final design exceeds the original specifications and took just 13 months to develop after the initial project discussions.

The ability to take direct measurements of SIF can be used as an indicator of plant stress and crop health. It can also be used to provide more accurate estimates of species composition, seasonal variations, and physiological status.

Results from the preliminary prototype confirm near-theoretical instrument performance from the as-built hardware, and the ability to retrieve chlorophyll fluorescence signatures from altitudes ranging between 1000 – 3000 feet above sea level. Invaluable assistance was provided to the Headwall team by their science partners from NASA and Brown University, U.S.A.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award, which was established by OSA in 1989 and named in remembrance of Paul F. Forman, who helped raise visibility for the field of optical engineering, in 2007. The team award recognizes technical achievements such as product engineering, process, software and patent development, as well as contributions to society such as engineering education, publication and management, and public appreciation of optical engineering. For more information on the award or the nomination process, visit OSA Awards.

Above caption: David Blair, Headwall’s director of strategic programs, accepted the Forman Award on behalf of the team from 2019 OSA President Ursula Gibson

Headwall Photonics Special Projects Team Members

Peter Clemens, Team Leader

Bruce Cook, Science Partners

Larry Corp, Science Partners

Kevin Didona, Principal Design Engineer

James Kellner, Science Partners

Scott Milligan, Optical Design Engineer

Blair Simon, Senior Systems Engineer

About Headwall Photonics

Headwall Photonics is a leading designer and manufacturer of spectral instrumentation for remote sensing, advanced machine vision, medical/biotech, and government/defense markets. With a worldwide base of end-user and OEM customers, Headwall enjoys a market leadership position through the design and manufacture of spectral solutions that are customized for application-specific performance. The Company is based in Massachusetts where it has two locations (Bolton and Fitchburg). European operations (Headwall BVBA) are located near Brussels, Belgium. For more information, visit

About The Optical Society

The Optical Society (OSA) is dedicated to promoting the generation, application, archiving, and dissemination of knowledge in optics and photonics worldwide. Founded in 1916, it is the leading organization for scientists, engineers, business professionals, students, and others interested in the science of light. OSA’s renowned publications, meetings, online resources, and in-person activities fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate scientific, technical, and educational achievement.

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