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Optica Names Joseph Mait the 2024 Stephen D. Fantone Distinguished Service Award Recipient

Optica is pleased to announce that Joseph Mait, USA, has been selected as the 2024 recipient of the Stephen D. Fantone Distinguished Service Award. Mait is being honored for decades of dedicated service and leadership across multiple Optica programs, including introducing innovative programs that support diversity, equity, and inclusion awareness processes for Optica publications and conferences.

Mait currently works part-time for the University of Delaware, USA and teaches optics as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland and the University of Rochester, both in the USA.  His research includes surface optical elements, such as diffractive and metamaterial-based elements, graded-index optics, and computational imaging, a field he helped define in the 1990s. 

An active and thoughtful leader, Mait has worked tirelessly to help Optica meet the needs of its diverse community. His work on the Member and Education Services Council introduced a new, more accessible dues structure for Society members in developing nations. He helped expand the awards portfolio with the establishment of the Emmett Leith Medal. He has made significant contributions to Optica’s meetings, including the founding of Computational Optical Sensing and Imaging. Among his many roles within the Optica Publication Group, he is a former Editor-in-Chief of Applied Optics, a former Chair of the Publication Council and he chaired the Board of Editors for an unprecedented five years.

He retired in 2018 from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory after 30 years of federal service. As ARL’s Chief Scientist in his last five years, he was responsible for the laboratory’s technical forecasting and strategic vision.  He has held visiting positions at the Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany, the National Defense University in Washington DC, and the Leibniz Institute for Photonic Technologies in Jena, Germany.  He is a Fellow of Optica and SPIE, and a life senior member of IEEE. 

Established in 1973, the Distinguished Service Award is presented to individuals who, over an extended period of time, have served the Society in an outstanding way, especially through volunteer participation in its management, operation, or planning in such ways as editorship of a periodical, organization of meetings, or other service to the Society. The award was created in memory of Stephen M. MacNeille and was named in honor of Stephen D. Fantone in 2013. It is endowed by the American Optical Corporation and contributions from individual members.

About Optica

Optica, 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.

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