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29 August 2023

James C. Wyant Named Optica Honorary Member

Wyant is recognized for his exceptional contributions to the global optics and photonics community

James Wyant

James C. Wyant

WASHINGTON — James C. Wyant, Emeritus Professor and Founding Dean at the University of Arizona, Wyant College of Optical Sciences, USA, has been a leader in the classroom, lab and boardroom for over 30 years. His technical innovation and entrepreneurship changed the field of optical metrology and developed tools that enabled many disciplines of precision manufacturing. Optica (formerly OSA), Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, announces that Wyant has been named an Optica Honorary Member.

Wyant is recognized for his pioneering contributions to advancing the science and technology of quantitative interferometric metrology, his leadership as an educator and entrepreneur, and his visionary service to the global optics and photonics community.

"Jim has made extraordinary contributions to our society and field through his scientific and technical work, mentorship, leadership and philanthropy," said Michal Lipson, Optica's 2023 President. "It is with great pleasure that I welcome him into the esteemed group of Optica Honorary Members."

His pioneering work in the field of adaptive optics played a vital role in the development of the first adaptive optical system, and his holographic techniques, which provided a means of testing aspheric surfaces, have been a standard procedure for decades. He is also well-known for his role in creating the optical testing technique used on the James Webb Space Telescope and most, if not all, of the giant telescopes around the world.

Honorary Member is the most distinguished of all Optica Member categories. It is awarded by a unanimous vote of the Optica Board of Directors to individuals who have made seminal contributions to the field of optics. Their number is limited to two-thousandths (2/1000) of the total membership of the Society.

Wyant earned his MS and PhD degrees from The Institute of Optics, University of Rochester, USA, and his BS in Physics from the Case Institute of Technology (now Case Western Reserve University), USA. After receiving his PhD, Wyant joined Itek, in Burlington, MA, USA, and worked at the interface of holography and rapidly developing computer technology. He later returned to academia with a faculty appointment at the Optical Sciences Center (OSC), University of Arizona. He went on to become the Director of the OSC and the Founding Dean of the University's College of Optical Sciences. In 2019, the College of Optical Sciences was renamed the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences in his honor. Wyant also co-founded WYKO Corporation and 4D Technology Corporation and has been a Board member for several other companies including Veeco Instruments, DMetrix, Optics 1 and ILX Lightwave.

Over the course of his career, Wyant has been widely recognized for his ground-breaking work in optics and photonics, publishing 300+ scientific articles and giving numerous invited talks on interferometry, holography and optical testing. He is a member of the National Academy of Inventors, the National Academy of Engineering, and the International Order of the Knights of Holography. He is also a Fellow of Optica, SPIE and a Lifetime Fellow of the Optical Society of India. The numerous awards he has received for his technical, entrepreneurial and academic achievements include Optica's Fredric Ives Medal/Jarus W. Quinn Prize and Joseph Fraunhofer Award/Robert M. Burley Prize, SPIE's Gold Medal, SPIE Visionary Award, Wolfram (Mathematica) Innovator Award, Photonics Circle of Excellence Awards and R&D 100 Awards.

His service to the optics community, and in particular, Optica, has been extensive. Wyant was the Society's President in 2010 and served on the Board of Directors and its Executive Committee. He held the roles of Editor-in-Chief of Applied Optics and Associate Editor for a number of the Society's other journals. He was Chair of the Long-Range Planning Committee and Chair of the Joseph Fraunhofer Award/Robert M. Burley Prize selection committee, among numerous other positions within Optica.

About Optica

Optica, Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, is the society dedicated to promoting the generation, application, archiving and dissemination of knowledge in the field. Founded in 1916, it is the leading organization for scientists, engineers, business professionals, students and others interested in the science of light. Optica's renowned publications, meetings, online resources and in-person activities fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate scientific, technical and educational achievement. Discover more at:

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