Lyndsay Meyer
The Optical Society

Stephen E. Harris Named Honorary Member of The Optical Society

Harris honored for his influence in the science of light

Stephen HarrisWASHINGTON, October 22, 2013–The Board of Directors of The Optical Society (OSA) announced today that Stephen E. Harris has been elected as the Society’s newest Honorary Member. Harris was chosen for his “pioneering and profoundly influential contributions to the science of light, including optical parametric emission, lasing without inversion, electromagnetically induced transparency, and single cycle optical pulse generation.” Honorary Membership is OSA’s most distinguished membership status. Harris joins a group of only 45 OSA Honorary Members elected since the Society was founded in 1916.

“Steve’s ground-breaking research in nonlinear optics set the tone for his career of impressive ‘firsts’,” said OSA President Donna Strickland. “Steve never hesitated to be of service to the optical community, both locally at Stanford and internationally to peers around the globe. He shared his vision and his passion for science in many ways–through his students, his publications, his presentations, so that the path he paved can be extended by others.  We are delighted to add his name to the remarkable group of Honorary Members.”

Harris received his B.S. in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an M.A. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University.  After receiving his doctorate in 1963 Harris was appointed Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford. In later years, he directed the Stanford’s Edward L. Ginzton Laboratory (1983-1988) and was chair of the Applied Physics Department (1993-1996). He is currently Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics (Emeritus).

Harris is known for his work in the fields of lasers, quantum electronics, nonlinear optics, and atomic physics. Examples of his early contributions include the observation of parametric down conversion, the invention of the tunable acousto-optic filter, phase matched third harmonic generation in metal vapors, and laser induced collisions. In the late 1980s he suggested a technique for making lasers that could operate without requiring a population inversion (now termed LWI), an idea that contradicted the opening paragraphs of all books on lasers. Within several years this led to the first observation of Electromagnetically Induced Transparency (EIT), and its use for nonlinear optics and slow light. Harris holds 16 U.S. patents and has 230 journal publications.  Harris has received numerous prestigious awards, including the Frederic Ives Medal, the highest award given by OSA, the Schawlow Prize of the APS, the David Sarnoff Award of the IEEE and the 2007 Harvey Prize. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Honorary membership at OSA is given to those who have made unique, seminal contributions to the field of optics. The number of Honorary Members cannot exceed two-thousandths (2/1,000) of the total OSA membership. Election requires the unanimous vote of the Board of Directors. For a complete listing of OSA's honorary members, visit OSA's website.
About OSA
Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional society for scientists, engineers, students and business leaders who fuel discoveries, shape real-world applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light.  Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership programs, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of professionals in optics and photonics. For more information, visit