William H. Carter

In Memoriam: William H. Carter

March 20, 2009

In Memoriam: William H. Carter, 1938-2009William H. Carter

William Harold Carter, an OSA Fellow Emeritus known for his work in coherence theory, died on March 20, 2009 in Bethesda, MD, USA. He was 70.

Dr. Carter was a research physicist and electrical engineer who conducted independent basic research in optics, concentrating on the statistical properties of light.

Carter received his BSEE (1961), MSEE (1963) and Ph.D. (1966) from the University of Texas at Austin. He began his career in the Office of Research and Development of the US Central Intelligence Agency, McLean, VA (1967-69), while also fulfilling his military obligation and teaching at George Washington University. He then moved to the University of Rochester as a Research Associate in Physics with Professor Emil Wolf, with whom he later co-authored many articles. In 1971, Carter joined the US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC, where he served as a research physicist until 1993. Building on his graduate work, in which he designed and built the first laser in the state of Texas, Carter pioneered research in coherence theory, holography, lasers, digital image processing and analysis and inverse scattering. Upon his retirement from the Naval Research Laboratory, he joined the National Science Foundation, where he served as Program Director, Quantum Electronics, Waves and Beams (1993-1994). In that role, he evaluated academic research proposals and made award recommendations in the areas of optics, E&M, plasma and general applied physics.

During his career, Carter held a number of academic positions: assistant and associate professorial lecturer in electrical engineering at the George Washington University, Washington, DC, (1967-1969 and 1971-76); visiting research fellow at the University of Reading, England (1976-1977); professor of electrical engineering and graduate school fellow at the University of Nebraska , Lincoln (1981-1982); lecturer in electrical engineering at Johns Hopkins University, Columbia, MD (1989-1995); and visiting scientist at the Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University (1991-1992).

Carter contributed over 80 refereed articles to professional journals, was a frequent speaker at and convener of professional conferences, and edited four books of invited research papers. He was a co-discoverer of the quasi-homogeneous source model, together with Emil Wolf. A seminal paper on the quasi-homogeneous source resulted in his being one of the most-cited authors at the NRL. He also worked on special projects for the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

An OSA member since 1966, Carter served as Associate Editor of JOSA from 1980-83 and as Topical Editor of JOSA A from 2001-2003. He was elected as an OSA Fellow in 1982. Carter was also a fellow of SPIE, a three-time recipient of the Alan Berman Research Publication Award (1982, 1983 and 1986) and a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

An accomplished cellist, Carter played with the Alexandria (Virginia) Symphony, Mt. Vernon Chamber Orchestra, Georgetown Symphony, and various chamber groups. He had a pilot’s license and was a member of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club for many years. He was also a member of the Cosmos Club, Washington, DC.

Carter is survived by two children, two grandchildren, a brother and his long-time companion, Linda Demlo.

A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 23, 2009 at the Cosmos Club, 2121 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington DC.

If you would like to make a memorial contribution to the OSA Foundation in honor of William H. Carter, please visit www.osa-foundation.org/give.