Larry B. Stotts
Stotts Consulting, USA
For outstanding technical leadership in optical and photonic systems.
Larry Stotts knew from a young age that he wanted to work in science and technology. His biggest challenge starting out was deciding where to focus. He remembers his early career as a time of many exciting projects, and being lucky enough to work in many different technical areas and not needing to choose one track. He frequently took “gig work to pay the rent,” which had positives and negatives. Larry sometimes took jobs that were outside his expertise, which presented the challenge of teaching himself outside of paid hours on the job. However, he comments “putting in that extra effort led to my being able to successfully complete my various assignments and make a living. It also gave me a good reputation as one who got things done.” This unique experience of working in many fields followed him in later years of his career as well. During his time at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), USA, he recalls being a “kid in the candy store,” with the opportunity to work on many different things without the need to self-educate as much.
Over the years, Larry has been involved in numerous collaborations, which have led to a variety of products and technologies. Some fully realized products include the Precision Lightweight Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, the embedded GPS/Inertial Navigation System (EGI), and the automated train system within the Bay Area Rapid Transit District in San Francisco. One of his favorite projects resulted in a solution that had previously only been partially solved. He and a colleague were able to provide a “complete closed-form solution to the resolved target detection problem with Gaussian statistics of arbitrary means and variances…The ability to pre-condition many target detection problems to quasi-Gaussian statistics may provide the means to apply this theory to real applications and improve future performance.” This problem-solving solution is a great example of Larry’s favorite part of the research process. He enjoys “providing clarity of phenomena or experimental data that is yet to be understood” more than anything else.
Today, the collaborations continue. Larry’s current work has been developing and validating “analytical expressions for predicting filamentation characteristics from the optical Kerr Effect in real atmospheres.” The atmospheres include particulate and aerosol absorption and scattering, and turbulence effects. The team has published some papers with more to come, and reflecting on the experience so far, Larry comments “it is nice to see experimental validation of proposed theories.”
Larry draws his inspiration from two important figures in science. First was Fellow Dr. Adolf Lohmann who was highly influential, not only encouraging Larry’s education but also helping to start his career. Larry implements the advice he received from Dr. Lohmann in his career everyday: “if you understand the mathematics of the underlying phenomena or physics, you could manipulate it to yield insights that will lead to inventions and/or experimental explanations.” Larry was also influenced by Albert Einstein, his favorite scientist. Einstein’s words, “imagination is more important than knowledge,” resonate with Larry in all of his work. Now, Larry offers his own advice to young scientists: “Never let the nay-sayers stop you from doing what is right! Perseverance and tenacity may be necessary to achieve your goal.” He also reminds people that “you may not get rich working in science and technology, but you will have a lot of fun investigating the unknown, making things happen, and working with…special people.”
The society has been an important part of Larry’s career providing him the opportunity to educate himself “in a state-of-the-art, timely, and efficient manner.” He comments, “OSA has been a key part in my success over the years.” Since the early days of his education and career, Larry has attended conferences and seminars, which enabled him to expand his knowledge and network of colleagues.
Photo Credit: Larry Stotts
Profile written by Samantha Hornback