In Memoriam: Les Allen, 1936-2016
Les Allen, an OSA Fellow and an internationally renowned expert on the properties of laser light, passed away on 16 June 2016. Allen was known as a pioneer of laser physics and spent a significant portion of his career researching laser physics and quantum optics at the University of Sussex, where he was a founding member of the department. He was 80.
Allen received four degrees from Imperial College culminating in a PhD in physics in 1960. In 1973, he was awarded a higher doctorate, a DSc, for his contributions to physics. Even as early as 1962, Allen was at the forefront of laser physics creating with a colleague a ruby laser which was only the second one in the UK, only months after the first was made in the USA. Over the course of his career, Allen published 85 original research papers and four books, garnering him an international reputation. He gave more than 50 invited research lecturers all over the world and was a guest of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, the Polish Academy, and the Indian Academy. Allen was a distinguished visitor at the University of Rochester, NY (1968-69), University of Colorado Boulder (1995-96), Leiden, Netherlands, (1991-92) and University of Utrecht (1994). In addition, he also served as the deputy rector of the University of East London for five years and completed a research fellowship in the physics department of the University of Leiden, in the Netherlands. He also served as a visiting professor at Strathclyde and visiting honorary senior research fellow at the University of Glasgow.
In 2009, he received the prestigious Young Medal and Prize from the Institute of Physics in London with colleague Professor Miles Padgett of Glasgow University for their pioneering work on optical angular momentum. The Young Medal and Prize recognizes work in optical and quantum-optical physics and is international in stature. Allen became an OSA Fellow in 2016 for his distinguished service in the advancement of optics.
Outside of his research, Allen enjoyed spending time with his wife Polly and his children and grandchildren. He was a noted artist of abstract painting and lifelong fan of Millwall FC. His other interests included reading, archaeology, politics and being a member of the Penrith Ramblers.