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Charles Hard Townes Medal

Presented for outstanding experimental or theoretical work, discovery or invention in the field of quantum electronics.

View Past Winners.

Submit a nomination.


Nominations: 1 October

References: 10 October

Nominator Requirements

The nominator must be a current Optica member.

Nominee Requirements

1. Nominees do not need to be Optica members.

2. Joint nominees are permitted for the same project or for joint work completed over a long period of time.

3. An individual may not receive more than one society award in a year, nor may an individual receive more than one award for the same body of work.

4. Awards are not presented posthumously, except in the case that the recipient's death occurs after the Selection Committee decision has been made.

Important Note:  The nominee does not participate in the process. To maintain confidentiality, the necessary facts should be obtained from the nominee only if the complete and correct background information is not available elsewhere. Self-nomination is not permitted. We serve a diverse and inclusive community worldwide. Nominees that reflect and support this diversity across all areas including gender, race, educational/institutional background and geography are especially encouraged.

Nomination Requirements

All nomination materials are submitted online through BEAM. Any documents must be uploaded as PDF files. The following is needed for a nomination:

  1. Nominee’s name, affiliation and primary email address.*
  2. A concise (~30 word) citation that highlights the nominee’s contributions.*
  3. An original, one (1) page narrative/statement describing the nominee's outstanding experimental or theoretical work, discovery or invention in the field of quantum electronics.
  4.  Nominee's resume or CV, listing educational background, positions held, and highlighting key contributions to the field of quantum electronics, patents, awards, honors, activities, publications, reports or product releases and service to the society.
  5. Four (4) references.* Diversity of support is preferred; not all letters of recommendation should come from the nominee's institution/organization. The nominator may not serve as a reference. The name and email address is required for each reference. Important while staff will send reminders to references, it is the nominator's responsibility to ensure that all required references have been submitted by the deadline.
  6. Optional supporting documents could include: additional patents, activities, publications, reports, product releases, etc. Please remember that all materials should support the contributions and accomplishments outlined in the citation and narrative statement.

* This information is all entered directly into BEAM.

If you have any difficulty using BEAM, please contact us at

Nomination Do's and Don'ts


  1. Include the nominee in the submission process!
  2. Forget to check for spelling errors, typos and grammatical errors.
  3. Just cut & paste from the CV/resume. Write a narrative that describes the candidate and their unique and outstanding contributions.
  4. Include letters of support or references in the supporting materials. Any such documents will be removed during the Quality Check process.
  5. Assume that the reviewer knows your candidate well.
  6. Use generalizations.
  7. Just say your nominee is outstanding – prove it!
  1. Communicate with your references! Confirm that they are willing to be a reference and will be enthusiastic about your nominee before you add them to the system.
  2. Make the narrative clear and easy to read. Consider using bullet points and section headers.

  3. Give specific examples that explain the impact of the nominee’s work.

  4. Proofread your material for typos and mistakes.

  5. Include qualitative and quantitative facts, statistics, metrics, etc.

  6. Avoid providing an extended resume, job description or list of appointments/posts.

Selection Process

The Selection Committee reviews and discusses all eligible nominees. After careful consideration, they make a recommendation that is approved by the Awards Council and Board of Directors.

Please note that a minimum of four eligible nominations are required before the Selection Committee may select a recipient. If the minimum is not met, all nominations will be held for consideration the following year.

All nominations are automatically considered for up to three review cycles. After consideration by three Selection Committees, the nomination is retired but may be renominated.

Using BEAM

1. Log in to BEAM, our Awards and Honors system, with your Optica credentials.

2. Be sure you are on the "Nominators" tab.

3. Click the "Submit a New Nomination" button and select the appropriate award/medal from the drop-down menu.

4. Enter the name and email address of the nominee. You will have the option to add multiple nominees later in the process if needed.

5. Input the required supporting information and references. Note - references will automatically receive an email with a link to the reference form as soon as you select them as a reference, even if you have not completed/submitted the nomination.

6. Select "Additional Nominees" from the menu if needed.

7. Review and submit the nomination prior to the deadline.

8. After submitting the nomination you will receive a confirmation email.


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