Jannick Rolland
University of Rochester

Jannick Rolland Profile

Jannick Rolland is the Brian J. Thompson Professor in Optical Engineering at the University of Rochester. She earned an Optical Engineering diploma in 1984 from the Institut d'Optique, France, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona in 1987 and 1990, respectively, supervised by Prof. Harrison H. Barrett.

As a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Computer Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Rolland worked on optics and vision for augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) research, and in 1992, she joined the research faculty and led the Vision Group. In 1996, Rolland joined the faculty of the College of Optics and Photonics (CREOL) at the University of Central Florida as Assistant Professor. She received a promotion to Full Professor in 2007.  In 2009, she joined the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester and was awarded the Brian J. Thompson endowed chair Professorship in Optical Engineering.

Rolland is the director of the National Science Foundation Center for Freeform Optics (CeFO) headquartered at the University of Rochester. CeFO is a consortium for industry/university cooperative research. As the director, she has initiated collaborations among four universities, engaging 21 faculty members and more than 100 students working with two dozen corporate and government laboratories. She leads her research team on instrumentation optics spanning image science from microscopy to space optics. Seven years ago, she co-founded a start-up, LighTopTech, and currently serves as CTO focusing on noninvasive 3D volumetric imaging. 

Rolland has served OSA as an elected Director-at-Large of the Board of Directors, as well as a member of the Meetings Council and Chair of two topical meetings: Optical Fabrication and Testing, and Freeform Optics. She worked on the Optics Legislative Network, and the Women in OSA Rapid Action Committee. Rolland has been a member of the Board of Editors of the journals Presence (MIT Press), Optical Engineering, and the two editions of the Handbook of Visual Display Technology (2012 and 2014). She currently serves OSA as Topical Editor of Optics Letters.

Rolland is passionate about finding innovative solutions in optical engineering in a wide range of fields, including astronomy, augmented and virtual reality, and biomedical imaging enabled by emerging technologies, as demonstrated with freeform optics. Her passion for innovation has been a lifelong journey. She has been awarded 37 patents with licensing outcomes. Before moving to the United States, she designed the optics for SPOT4, a satellite in orbit for 15 years, that captured a new volcanic eruption in Chile. In Tucson as a Ph.D. student, she developed the mathematics to describe the “lumpy background” noise that plagues medical images. This advance gave rise to a widely-adopted method to assess image quality in diagnostic instruments. As a faculty member, first at CREOL and then at the Institute of Optics, she developed Gabor-domain optical coherence microscopy that has been commercialized by her company LighTopTech. For her contributions to augmented reality, she was named one of eight influential women pioneers by the Augmented World Expo (AWE).

Rolland is a Fellow of OSA and SPIE. She has been the recipient of the OSA David Richardson Medal, the University of Rochester Edmund A. Hajim Outstanding Faculty Award, the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences Alumna of the Year award, and OSA’s Joseph Fraunhofer Award /Robert M. Burley Prize in 2020.

Jannick Rolland Statement

My first time experiencing light-and-sound special effects, in a live theater, was so wondrous that it drove me to learn more about the underlying field of optics and photonics. I was 16. From that point forward, I pursued a diploma in optical engineering at the Institut d’Optique in France and an M.S. and Ph.D. in optical sciences at the University of Arizona, USA. I joined The Optical Society in 1985 as a graduate student and have benefited both as a member and as a contributor, having published continually in OSA journals since 1990.

After receiving my Ph.D., a first career opportunity was with the University of North Carolina, USA, creating head-worn displays for 3D visualization tailored for guided surgery. This challenge served to launch my academic calling at CREOL at the University of Central Florida, USA, from 1996 to 2008 and through the past decade at the University of Rochester.

It is an honor to be nominated as a candidate for OSA Vice President. I believe that growing as a community is our purpose. OSA plays a critical role in providing opportunities for professional and personal development, from networking to leadership. The Traveling Lecturer program is a fantastic means of life-transforming exchanges. While serving on the OSA Board of Directors beginning in 2013, I launched the Incubator Meetings that help us today see and seize the opening fields of optical science and technology.

Serving as topical editor of Optics Letters since 2013 deepened my appreciation for the efforts put forth in creating our shared base of community knowledge. Volunteering helps to build the community, and philanthropy supports the vision of the OSA Foundation to empower the next generation of leaders. Together, we accelerate the pace of knowledge, creativity, and evolution—OSA core actions I heartily endorse.

As we, as people, and OSA, as a society, continually transform, we shall hone in to realize the emergence of a fully inclusive society. I witnessed advances when serving on the Women in OSA Rapid Action Committee that identified substantial and measurable efforts to speed up progress. And I directly experienced it when serving in leadership roles for the International Optical Design Conference, the Optical Fabrication and Testing Conference and the Freeform Optics Conference. 

Thinking ahead, I envision actively assisting The Optical Society in pursuing opportunities that will help strengthen its strategic position, including actions to:

  • further advance OSA leadership in the excellence of publishing and global dissemination of technical information;
  • illuminate OSA’s vision, mission, and core values to encourage further engagement of corporate members;
  • speed the mentoring and inclusion of students around the globe into the OSA portfolio with active initiatives along career and leadership paths; and
  • lead OSA as a partner in advocacy for public policies to support the engagement of the optics and photonics community in addressing global issues.

When reflecting on the role of OSA President, I envision teaming up with all fellow members of the society to set clear goals and objectives, including tractable metrics to guide progress, with innovation and excellence as our polestar.