25 January 2022
Optica and the University of Arizona Wyant College of Optical Sciences Honor Jean M. Bennett with Endowed Chair
WASHINGTON —Optica, the society advancing optics and photonics worldwide, and the University of Arizona James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences today announced the establishment of The Jean M. Bennett Optica Endowed Chair. Through the endowment of a chair, Optica has partnered with James C. Wyant to support the faculty at the Wyant College of Optical Sciences. The announcement marks the first time a chair at the Wyant College of Optical Sciences has been named in honor of a woman scientist.
“Dr. Bennett was an exceptional scientist, scholar and educator who made many contributions to the field of optics and our organization. Her impactful legacy will continue in our community through The Jean M. Bennett Optica Endowed Chair.”
CEO of Optica, Elizabeth Rogan
“With Optica’s donation and the contribution from the Distinguished Endowed Chair in Optical Sciences Fund, the Wyant College of Optical Sciences will provide tomorrow’s optics students with amazing research leaders and mentors. We are especially excited to establish a chair in honor of an exceptional woman in optics.”
Dean of Wyant College, Thomas L. Koch
“Early in my undergraduate studies, I read the story about the research of Jean and Hal Bennett. I was fascinated by their research of optical surfaces. Their research helped to inform my decision to pursue a graduate degree in optics. How lucky I was.”
College of Optical Sciences Founding Dean and Professor Emeritus, James C. Wyant
About Jean M. Bennett
Jean M. Bennett was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. 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 the University of Arizona James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences
The University of Arizona James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences (OSC) has been lighting the future since 1964 by providing an internationally pre-eminent program in all aspects of the study of light. OSC offers a diverse student body, challenging courses, pioneering research programs with award-winning faculty, and close relationships with the optics industry. For more information, please visit www.optics.arizona.edu.
Optica (formerly OSA), the society advancing optics and photonics worldwide, is 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.