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15 May 2024

Hong Hua named the Jean M. Bennett Optica Endowed Chair in Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona

Hua is the first woman to be named to an Endowed Chair in the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences

Caption:  Hong Hua

Credit: University of Arizona

WASHINGTON—Optica, Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, and the University of Arizona are pleased to announce the first holder of the Jean M. Bennett Optica Endowed Chair: Hong Hua, Professor of Optical Sciences. Hua is the also first woman faculty member at the College to be awarded a chair. Hua, an Optica Fellow, first joined the University of Arizona in 2004 as an Assistant Professor. She became a full professor in 2015, and leads the 3-D Visualization and Imaging Systems laboratory at the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences.

The Wyant College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona is one of the primary institutions in the United States dedicated to training the next generation of optical scientists.  To support the Wyant College of Optical Sciences and their mission to offer high-quality optics education, Optica established the Jean M. Bennett Optica Endowed Chair.

“Jean Bennett left an extraordinary legacy as an educator and a scientist, and as a person who achieved many ‘firsts’—such as serving as Optica’s first woman president,” said Optica CEO Elizabeth Rogan. “Dr. Hua is a fitting recipient of the Jean Bennett Optica Endowed Chair as a similarly accomplished scientist and advocate for women in science. We congratulate her on receiving this honor.”

About Hong Hua

Hong Hua received her PhD in Optical Engineering from the Beijing Institute of Technology in 1999 before completing her postdoc at the at the University of Central Florida. She served as a Beckman Research Fellow from 2000 to 2002 at the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She then spent two years as an Assistant Professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa before coming to the University of Arizona in 2004.

Hua is an active volunteer for Optica, SPIE and IEEE. She is currently a member of Optica’s Board of Meetings and has served as a chair for a number of Optica meetings. She has also acted as a guest editor for Optics Express. In 2012, she was named an Optica Senior Member, and in 2019, an Optica Fellow. Hua was also named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) and SPIE, and a member of the IEEE VGTC VR Academy. Hua was named in the Inaugural class of UArizona Women of Impact in 2022.

Hua leads the 3-D Visualization and Imaging Systems laboratory, specializing in optical technologies for advanced 3D displays, immersive virtual environments and novel imaging systems for various applications. Her current research focuses on enabling advanced 3D displays, especially head-worn display technologies for virtual and augmented reality applications, human visual perception and microscopic and endoscopic imaging systems for medicine.

She holds over 50 US and foreign patents, including one for Augmented Reality (AR) technology that can assist the visually impaired using special glasses. Hua has also more than 100 peer-reviewed journal publications. While at UArizona, Hua has overseen the successful graduation of over 30 graduate students and postdoctoral candidates. She is also a regular guest speaker the University of Arizona Women in Optics (WiO) organization and is an avid advocate for women in science.

About Jean M. Bennett

Jean M. Bennett was the first woman to earn a PhD in physics from Pennsylvania State University in 1955. She spent much of her career at the Naval Weapons Center (now the Naval Air Warfare Center), earning such accolades as the Naval Weapons Center L.T.E. Thompson Award for scientific achievements in optics technology in 1988 and a Lifetime Achievement Award of Women Scientists & Engineers from the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in 1995. She was also one of a small group of women to be named a Distinguished Fellow of the Naval Weapons Center.

Dr. Bennett was an active supporter of scientific societies, including Optica, where she served as a journal editor for Applied Optics and Optics Express. She also held seats on the Optica Board of Directors and many other councils and committees. In 1986, she was the first woman to be elected President of the Society, and, years later, she was the first woman to be named Fellow Emeritus Member.

During her career, Bennett authored several books, wrote more than 100 articles, and held numerous patents. She also inspired students around the globe through her teaching, including visiting appointments in the United States with the University of Alabama and in Sweden at the Stockholm Institute of Optical Research.

In 2008, Dr. Bennett’s legacy was recognized with the Jean Bennett Memorial Student Travel Grant established by the Optica Foundation, their first travel grant to be named in remembrance of a woman. James C. Wyant was a founding contributor to the endowment that funds this grant.

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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