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21 January 2021

Erich Ippen Named Honorary Member of The Optical Society

WASHINGTON—The Optical Society (OSA) has named Dr. Erich Ippen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, an OSA Honorary Member. Honorary Membership is the most distinguished of all OSA Member categories and is awarded to individuals who have made seminal contributions to the field of optics.

Ippen is being recognized “for laying the foundations of ultrafast science and engineering, as well as providing inspiring leadership to the optics community.

"Erich Ippen's longstanding dedication to enriching OSA and his seminal contributions to the global optics community are emblematic of the Honorary Member designation," said 2021 OSA President Connie Chang-Hasnain, Whinnery Chair Professor Emerita of EECS at University of California, Berkeley, USA. "OSA celebrates his innovation and leadership that will greatly impact the future of our field." 

Honorary Members are elected by unanimous vote of the OSA Board of Directors upon nomination by the OSA Presidential Advisory Committee and a unanimous vote by the OSA Awards Council.

Erich Ippen received his S.B. in Electrical Engineering from MIT and M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, USA. He was a member of the technical staff at Bell Laboratories, where he was one of the founders of the field of femtosecond optics, before joining the MIT faculty in 1980. He is currently a principal investigator in the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) at the MIT and holds appointments as the Elihu Thomson Professor of Electrical Engineering Emeritus and Professor of Physics Emeritus. He is one of the leaders of RLE’s Optics and Quantum Electronics Group.

He was the OSA 2000 President, and has a long history of service to OSA through his work on numerous committees and councils including the Nonlinear Optics Program Committee, Ultrafast Electronics and Optoelectronics Program Committee, CLEO Steering Committee, Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus W. Quinn Prize Selection Committee, Finance Committee, Awards Council and Presidential Advisory Committee.

Ippen is a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, and is a Fellow of OSA and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His many honors include MIT’s James R. Killian, Jr. Faculty Achievement Award and OSA’s Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus W. Quinn Prize, Charles Hard Townes Medal, and R. W. Wood Prize.

About The Optical Society

Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and business leaders who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. For more information, visit

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