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Awards and Medals

Recognize Your Colleagues - Submit a Nomination for an Award/Medal

Our Awards Program spans all areas of optics and photonics, as well as contributions made to the community.  Use the award category guide to find the most appropriate recognition.

Unless noted, the nomination deadline for an award/medal is 1 October. Learn more about the nomination process.

Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus W. Quinn Prize

- the highest award of the Society, recognizes overall distinction in optics.

Esther Hoffman Beller Medal

- recognizes outstanding contributions to education in optical science and engineering.

Max Born Award

- recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to physical optics, theoretical or experimental.

Stephen D. Fantone Distinguished Service Award

- recognizes service to Optica. Nomination Deadline: 30 June

Michael S. Feld Biophotonics Award

- recognizes individuals for their innovative and influential contributions to the field of biophotonics, regardless of their career stage.

Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award

- recognizes team technical achievements in optical engineering. This award will not be presented in 2024.

Joseph Fraunhofer Award/Robert M. Burley Prize

- recognizes research accomplishments in the field of optical engineering.

The Joseph W. Goodman Book Writing Award

- recognizes authorship of an outstanding book in the field of optics and photonics, published in the last six years, that has contributed significantly to research, teaching, or the optics and photonics industry (co-presented with SPIE and presented in even-numbered years only). Nominations for the 2026 award should be submitted to Optica.

Nick Holonyak Jr. Award

- recognizes contributions to optics based on semiconductor-based devices and optical materials, including basic science and technological applications.

Robert E. Hopkins Leadership Award

- recognizes an individual or group who has had a significant impact on the global optics and photonics community or on society as a whole stemming from non-research oriented activities.

Edwin H. Land Medal

- recognizes pioneering work empowered by scientific research to create inventions, technologies, and products (co-presented with the Society for Imaging Science and Technology). 

Sang Soo Lee Award

- recognizes outstanding leadership in founding or growing the optics and photonics community locally (co-presented with the Optical Society of Korea in even-numbered years only).

Emmett N. Leith Medal

- recognizes seminal contributions to the field of optical information processing.

Ellis R. Lippincott Award

- recognizes contributions to vibrational spectroscopy (co-presented with the Coblentz Society and the Society for Applied Spectroscopy).

Adolph Lomb Medal

- recognizes noteworthy contributions made to optics at an early career stage.*

Leonard Mandel Quantum Optics Award

- recognizes distinguished contributions to the foundations of statistical and quantum optics, and/or applications in advanced technologies.

C.E.K. Mees Medal

- recognizes an original use of optics across multiple fields.

William F. Meggers Award

- recognizes outstanding work in spectroscopy.

David Richardson Medal

- recognizes contributions to optical engineering, primarily in the commercial and industrial sector.

Kevin P. Thompson Optical Design Innovator Award

- recognizes contributions to lens design, optical engineering, or metrology at an early career stage.* 

Edgar D. Tillyer Award

- recognizes distinguished work in the field of vision. 

Charles Hard Townes Medal

- recognizes contributions to quantum electronics.

Optica Treasurer's Award

- recognizes an Optica employee who contributes significantly to organizational excellence, promotes and enacts innovative solutions, or exemplifies inspirational leadership.

John Tyndall Award

- recognizes contributions to fiber optic technology (co-presented with the IEEE/Photonics Society). Nomination Deadline: 10 August. Nominations should be submitted to IEEE Photonics Society.

Herbert Walther Award

- recognizes distinguished contributions in quantum optics and atomic physics as well as leadership in the international scientific community (co-presented with Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft).  Nomination Deadline: 30 June.

R. W. Wood Prize

- recognizes an outstanding discovery, scientific or technological achievement or invention.


*Candidates must be within ten (10) years of the completion of their highest degree earned in the year the medal is presented, excluding career breaks (e.g., eldercare, maternity or paternity leave, adoption).

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