Daniel Malacara-Hernández obtained his PhD in Optics in 1965 from the University of Rochester, making him the first Mexican to achieve this level of degree in optics.
In 1972, Malacara-Hernández was named technical director and professor at the Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica Optica y Electrónica (INAOE) in Tonantzintla, Puebla. In this position, he developed an MS degree in optics, which was the first in Mexico. He also designed and constructed the optics for a 2.1-meter-diameter astronomical telescope, at the time the largest in Latin America. He also wrote Optical Shop Testing, which has been translated into seven languages and used as a textbook worldwide.
He founded the Center for Research in Optics (CIO) in León in 1980 of which he was director until 1989. CIO became a leader in Mexican technological development under his direction. In 1989, he was granted the Rudolf and Hilda Kingslake Chair in Optical Engineering, at the Institute of Optics of the University of Rochester. After one year, he returned to CIO, where he remains today.
He has published more than 130 refereed papers in optics journals. He is a Fellow of the Society and SPIE. In 1987, he was elected a Vice-president of SPIE. He has served as a Topical Editor for Applied Optics from 1989 to 1992. He also has served SPIE as a member of the Board of Governors from 1900 to 1991.
He has been awarded the A. E. Conrady Award for Scientific Achievement, the Galileo Galilei Award, the Gold Medal Award, and the Joseph Fraunhofer Award/Robert M. Burley Prize.