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The Optical Society Names Keith Nelson the 2021 William F. Meggers Award Recipient


The Optical Society is pleased to announce that Keith Nelson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, has been selected as the 2021 recipient of the William F. Meggers Award. Nelson is honored for expanding the horizons of impulsive stimulated Raman scattering (ISRS) to the generation of intense tunable terahertz pulses, thus establishing new transient-grating techniques for a more effective application of time-domain coherent nonlinear spectroscopy in the study of condensed phase molecular dynamics.

Keith Nelson earned his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University, USA. After a year of postdoctoral study at the University of California Los Angeles, USA, he joined MIT. There, he is currently the Haslam and Dewey Professor of Chemistry.

Nelson is a world-recognized pioneer in the development and application of ultrafast spectroscopy to the study of solids and liquids. Over several decades, Nelson has made advances in the study of condensed phase dynamics by developing new optical technologies, and his accomplishments include the development of femtosecond impulsive Raman spectroscopy, pulse-shaping technology, terahertz pulse generation for coherent control spectroscopy, and multidimensional optical spectroscopy of molecular solids. Nelson was also the first to commercialize femtosecond nonlinear spectroscopy. His transient grating technology was the foundation of a startup company, subsequently acquired by Phillips, which measured thin film thicknesses in semiconductor fabrication lines with Ångstrom resolution.

He has received OSA’s Ellis R. Lippincott Award, the Ahmed Zewail Award in Ultrafast Science & Technology, the Bomem-Michelson Award, Frank Isakson Prize, and the James Smith Prize. He is a Fellow of OSA, American Physical Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Japan Society for Promotion of Science. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Established in 1970, the Meggers Award is presented for outstanding work in spectroscopy. It honors William F. Meggers for his notable contributions to the field of spectroscopy and metrology, and was endowed by the family of William F. Meggers, several individuals and a number of optical manufacturers.

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