Joseph A. Izatt
Duke University, USA

Awards & Distinctions


Joseph A. Izatt is the Michael J. Fitzpatrick Distinguished Professor of Engineering with appointments in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University. He completed the S.B. in Physics, Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering (with Michael Feld), and a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (with James Fujimoto), all at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before moving to Duke, he was Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University.

Izatt is recognized for advancing Biomedical Optics as a thriving discipline of Optics and Photonics through his research, mentorship, and professional service. His research has included contributions to coherence-based, confocal, and super-resolution imaging technologies. Many of his innovations have advanced optical coherence tomography (OCT), a major medical imaging modality that affects tens of thousands of patients worldwide every day. Together with his trainees and collaborators, Izatt’s laboratory played a leading role in the introduction and development of key OCT technologies and applications, including Fourier-domain imaging, which dominates current commercial systems, and the establishment of OCT as the worldwide clinical standard of care for diagnosis and treatment monitoring of ophthalmic disease. Izatt received the 2021 OSA/IS&T Edwin H. Land Medal in recognition of this work. He has co-authored over 230 peer-reviewed publications, more than 380 contributed and 130 invited lectures and presentations, and 80 issued patents. His publications to date have accumulated over 44,000 citations. He has mentored over 40 Ph.D. students and post-docs, many of whom now occupy leadership positions in optics and photonics in academia and industry. In 2010 he founded Biomedical Optics Express, OSA’s flagship journal for biomedical optics research, which is the leading venue for peer-reviewed research in this growing field.

Izatt has had extensive involvement with industry collaborations, technology transfer and entrepreneurship. More than 50% of Izatt’s 80 issued patents have been assigned or licensed to biomedical technology companies. He served as co-founder, Chairman, and Chief Scientific Advisor for Bioptigen, Inc., which was acquired by Leica Microsystems in 2015 and is now a leading provider of intrasurgical imaging technology.

Izatt is a Fellow of AIMBE, SPIE, OSA, and NAI. He devotes considerable effort to professional society service, including co-chairing the principal annual international conference on OCT for SPIE since 1998 and substantial involvement with OSA. Within OSA, Izatt has served on more than two dozen councils and committees since 1994, including service as Conference Chair (1998-9), Board of Editors (2006-2015), Editor in Chief (2010-2015), Strategic Planning Council (2015-2021), member and Chair of Publications Council (2016-2021), OSA Board of Directors (2016-2018, Ex-Officio, Executive Council), Optics Legislative Network (2018-2019), and Digital Technologies Rapid Action Committee (2019-2020). He currently serves as Chair of the Strategic Planning Council, which advises the Society on strategic and global issues, and as Advisory and Reviews Editor for Biomedical Optics Express.

Personal Statement

I am truly honored to stand as a candidate for OSA Vice President. OSA has been my principal professional home since I first joined as a graduate student at MIT in 1986. As a professor at two universities and founder/consultant to optical imaging companies, I have found OSA publications and meetings to be critical venues for the most important developments and interactions in my career.

Through volunteering on more than two dozen OSA councils and committees, my involvement with OSA has resulted in many of my closest professional associations and friendships. In 2010 I was honored to serve as founding editor-in-chief of Biomedical Optics Express, which has become the preeminent journal in this field. On OSA’s Board of Directors from 2016 to 2018, I strongly supported increasing gender equity across OSA leadership. As current chair of the OSA Strategic Planning Council, I work closely with OSA senior leadership and staff to anticipate long-term trends affecting all of OSA’s activities—resulting, for example, in recent expansion of the society’s professional staff presence internationally.

If elected, my priorities would be to:

Ensure that OSA remains a beacon of quality. OSA stands uniquely as the premier global forum for optics and photonics, and has pioneered innovations to improve accessibility through open-access journals and social-media presence. I believe that innovations such as transparent peer review will further enhance the quality and equity of OSA’s scientific content. Recognizing the tremendous effort of OSA reviewers, editors, conference committee members and chairs, and staff, I support innovations to attract, recognize and reward these individuals.

Increase globalization and inclusivity of OSA products and services. The opportunity to participate in in-person OSA activities such as conferences and workshops is challenging for many of our members. OSA’s remarkable effort to turn meetings virtual (and free) early in the pandemic led to a more than doubling of attendance at 2020 meetings, and to greatly increased participation from around the globe. I believe that the still-evolving pandemic experience highlights opportunities to build upon these advances in inclusion, such as new models for hybrid meetings that combine remote and local participation, and adoption of new technologies such as automated language translation and captioning.

Embrace new communities of professionals. Optics and photonics play an increasingly impactful role underpinning modern society, from enabling modern communications systems and solar energy, to emerging applications in autonomous vehicles, quantum computing, ubiquitous sensing and addressing global health disparities. With photonics becoming the new buzzword for opportunity and progress, OSA should welcome this expanding workforce with increased opportunities for (re)training, exchange of information and expertise, and professional recognition.

Enhance OSA’s value to all members. OSA has traditionally excelled at providing career enhancement opportunities for academic and research scientists. To increase the society’s appeal to younger professionals, I will emphasize inclusion of student and young professional members in planning and leadership activities. OSA should pioneer new programs for members in industry that are better suited to their incentives and schedules, including training and certification opportunities. We should increase representation of all of these categories of members in OSA leadership.