Michal Lipson
Columbia University

OSA Awards & Distinctions



Michal Lipson Profile

Professor Michal Lipson is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering and Professor of Applied Physics at Columbia University. She received her Ph.D. in Physics at the Technion in 1998. Following a Postdoctoral position in MIT in the Material Science department from 1998 to 2001, she joined the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University and was named the Given Foundation Professor of Engineering at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2012. In 2015, she joined Columbia University, where she is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering.

Lipson pioneered critical building blocks in the field of Silicon Photonics, which today is recognized as one of the most promising directions for solving the major bottlenecks in microelectronics.  In 2004, she showed the ability to tailor the electro-optic properties of silicon, which led to the explosion of silicon photonics research and development. The number of publications related to silicon photonic devices and systems is now more than 50,000 a year. A large fraction of these publications is based on Lipson’s original papers published since 2001. Today, more than one thousand papers published yearly involve devices and circuits based on Lipson’s original modulators, or based on other silicon photonics devices demonstrated by her group, including slot waveguides and inverse tapers.  Her papers (over 250 refereed journal publications) have been cited more than 40,000 times. She is also the inventor on over 45 issued patents. Lipson has delivered hundreds of invited, keynote and plenary lectures in all the major conferences in optics and related fields.

In recognition of her work in silicon photonics she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and to the American Academy of Arts Sciences (AAAS), and was awarded the NAS Comstock Prize in Physics, the MacArthur Fellowship, the Blavatnik Award, the OSA R. W. Wood Prize and the IEEE Photonics Award. She also received an honorary degree from Trinity College, University of Dublin. Since 2014, she has been named every year by Thomson Reuters as a top 1% highly cited researcher in the field of Physics.

Lipson was elected an OSA Fellow in 2006. She has held several leadership positions in the scientific community, including an elected Director at Large on the OSA Board of Directors (2016-2018).  She has co-organized numerous symposia and sessions in OSA conferences and was the general co-chair of CLEO (Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics) in 2019. She currently serves on the board of directors for two international photonics centers, three start-up companies, and is a member of the external evaluation board for two academic institutions. She is a co-founder of PicoLuz, a company specializing in nonlinear silicon photonic components and of Voyant, a company developing next generation Lidar technology based on silicon photonics.

Michal Lipson Statement

OSA has been extremely successful in fostering the rapid progress of optics and photonics, through its advocacy efforts and its effective research dissemination. In the past decade alone, 11 Nobel Prizes have been awarded for work involving optics. Photonics is now being utilized in technologies including autonomous vehicles, neuroscience, and “green” data centers. As one of the founders of the field of silicon photonics, I have seen that field transition from pure academic research to mature industrial products in less than 10 years.

Since becoming an OSA member 20 years ago, I have familiarized myself with the challenges and opportunities of OSA’s different engines. I have been fortunate to serve the society as an elected member of the OSA Board of Directors, as a journal editor and as chair of numerous technical subcommittees and conferences. Recently through my service, I have been able to contribute to the society’s bold and rapid actions to minimize the gender gap and ensure diversity in our community. OSA’s actions—ranging from creating implicit-bias training to providing child care at conferences—set an example for other technical societies to follow.

OSA now faces rapidly emerging challenges. We live in an era in which scientific evidence is becoming less trusted, citation metrics can make or break careers, and conference attendance is restricted due to both pandemic and carbon-emission concerns. If elected, I will devote my efforts to addressing these challenges while ensuring the society’s health and sustainability.

I will cultivate OSA’s creative and visionary nature by developing the society’s next-generation science communication and networking platforms. These might consist, for example, of novel mechanisms to exchange ideas, to work on projects, to learn from each other and to develop new collaborations. My goals are to expand the impact of OSA on the scientific community and beyond, and to serve the interests of our broad spectrum of members from academic institutions to small businesses, large companies, startups, national laboratories and government.