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In Memoriam: Paul L. Kelley, 1934-2023

Mar 13, 2023

Optica is deeply saddened by the passing of Paul L. Kelley, an Optica Fellow and Emeritus Member and a distinguished scientist who made significant contributions to the field of optics. Kelley passed away on 13 March at the age of 88, leaving behind a legacy of outstanding service and dedication to Optica and the scientific community.

Kelley's remarkable 35-year volunteer service to Optica was evident with his willingness to serve in numerous leadership positions. These roles included Editor of Optics Letters, Chair of the Board of Editors, Optica's Publication Council Chair, and a member of the Optica Board of Directors. He also served on the Finance Council, Executive Council, and Strategic Planning Council. Kelley's commitment and expertise have been invaluable to the Society, and his contributions have helped shape the course of Optica.

Kelley earned his bachelor's degree in physics from Rutgers University and his master's degree from Cornell University in 1959. In 1962, he received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Kelley served as an associate group leader of the Quantum Electronics Group at MIT for several years. Until 1992, he was a staff member at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, where he was a colleague of Charles Townes. Kelley was also a visiting lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, between 1968-69. He later became a retired Professor of Electrical Engineering at Tufts University, where he served as the Director of the Electro-Optics Technology Center. His research interests included nonlinear optics, tunable infrared lasers, laser spectroscopy, laser remote sensing, stimulated light scattering, and multiphoton processes.

Kelley's contributions to the field of optics were recognized with several prestigious awards and honors. He was elected a Fellow of the Optical Society of America in 1977 and was a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He received the Stephen D. Fantone Distinguished Service Award in 1998 in recognition of his three decades of service to the optics community. Kelley was also the Chairman of the Lasers and ElectroOptics Technical Group and co-chairman of the 1979 CLEA conference.

In addition to his service to Optica and the scientific community, Kelley supported the Optica Foundation. He contributed to the Optica Foundation General Fund, the Thomas F. Deutch Memorial Fellowship, and the Siegman fund. In his later years, he actively preserved the history of Optica (formerly OSA), through his participation in the History Advisory Group, and was a lead contributor to the "OSA Century of Optics" book commemorating the Society's 100th anniversary.

Paul L. Kelley's passing is a significant loss for Optica and the scientific community, and his friends and colleagues will deeply miss him. His legacy of dedication, expertise, and service will continue to inspire and influence generations of scientists and engineers to come.

Paul is survived by his son Matthew and wife Melinda, and their son Nicholas and daughter Gwen; Paul’s daughter Diana Kelley and her husband Ed Moyle;  Paul’s brother Michael Kelley. The family will hold a private ceremony in their hometown of Boston, MA, US at a future date. Matt can be contacted at .

Awards & Distinctions

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