After receiving a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Delaware and a PhD in electrical engineering from Cornell University, David F. Welch went on to Spectra Diode Labs (SDL) where he worked as a research scientist and eventually vice president of research. He went on to become the chief technology officer and vice president for corporate development, where he was responsible for the development of laser and optical technologies, as well as successfully executing six corporate acquisitions and merging SDL and JDS Uniphase. After instituting the largest technology acquisition of its time, Welch co-founded Infinera, an optical networking company that is the leading supplier of fiber optic transmission systems using PIC technology. He is now Chief Innovation Officer there.
Welch has made numerous contributions to the field of optical communication systems—including more than 250 published articles and 130 patents—and has been recognized for this work throughout the course of his career. He received the Adolph Lomb Award from OSA in 1992, the Engineering Achievement Award from the IEEE Photonics Society (then LEOS) in 1998, and the Joseph Fraunhofer/Robert M. Burley Award in 1999. He is also a Fellow of the Society and IEEE and served on the board of directors of OSA. Most recently, in 2011 he received the John Tyndall Award.