Jean M. Bennett

Jean Bennett received her B.A. in physics from Mount Holyoke College in 1951. She spent four years doing graduate work at Pennsylvania State University, becoming the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in physics at the institution. Shortly after graduation in 1955, Bennett joined Michelson Laboratory, China Lake, California as a research physicist.

In 1956 she joined the Naval Weapons Center (now the Naval Air Warfare Center) at China Lake where she remained throughout her career, leaving briefly for visiting appointments at the University of Alabama, Huntsville and Stockholm’s Institute of Optical Research. Bennett’s research interests included interferometry, micro-roughness analysis, optical surface scattering and surface roughness.

Bennett was the author of several book chapters and books, including Introduction to Surface Roughness and Scattering, 2nd edition, published by OSA in 1999. She was also the author or co-author of well over 100 articles in scientific journals and held several patents.

As an active OSA member Bennett served in a variety of positions. She was on the OSA Board of Directors, served as an editor forApplied Optics and Optics Express and also served on the Esther Hoffman Geller Award, David Richardson Medal and CEK Mees Medal committees. She was also OSA’s first female president.

Bennett was the recipient of numerous other awards and honors, including the SPIE Technology Achievement Award and the Naval Weapons Center L.T.E. Thompson Award for scientific achievements in optics technology. She was recognized as a Senior Fellow of the Naval Weapons Center and was named a Distinguished Fellow, an honor limited to .025% of the Naval Weapons Center‘s technical population. Bennett was also an OSA fellow and received OSA’s David Richardson Medal.

In 1988 the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (formerly the Rose Polytechnic Institute) Terre Haute, Ind. created the Jean Bennett Award, given annually to a senior who has demonstrated excellence in optics.

Bennett was recognized for her achievements as a woman scientist in an era where women in optics were few and far between. She received the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division [NAWCSD] Lifetime Achievement Award of Women Scientists & Engineers in 1993 and was awarded a National Science Foundation grant for visiting professorships for women.

Bennett died in 2008.

OSA Awards Won

David Richardson Medal
Fellow