In Memoriam: Adolf F. Fercher, 1939-2017
March 10, 2017
Adolf Friedrich Fercher, former OSA Emeritus Member and recipient of the 2017 Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize, passed away on 10 March 2017 at the age of 77. Fercher, a noted pioneer in the field of ophthalmic laser interferometry, served as the Head of the Institute of Medical Physics at the University of Vienna (and subsequently the Medical University of Vienna) from 1986 to 2007.
Fercher was a brilliant visionary and internationally recognized expert in biophotonics and the medical application of lasers. He was considered the father of the first Low-Coherence Interferometry (LCI) devices and his groundbreaking research laid the foundation for the development of optical coherence tomography (OCT). OCT, a contactless optical analogue to ultrasound with a much higher resolution, has become indispensable as a diagnostic tool in many areas of medicine and particularly in ophthalmology.
In recognition of his significant role in the development of OCT, Fercher was awarded the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize by the United States National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in January 2017. The Russ Prize is awarded by the NAE for technological developments that have had a significant impact on society and have helped to improve human well-being. Along with the Gordon Prize and the Draper Prize, the Russ Prize is also known as the “Nobel prize for engineering sciences.”
Fercher had a robust research career with numerous patents and published articles to his credit. In addition to his research accomplishments, Fercher was also a mentor to both students and colleagues, encouraging them to pursue their ideas and inspiring future leaders in the field of OCT. OSA and the scientific community mourns the loss of Adolf Fercher.