In Memoriam: James Harrington, 1942-2018
June 20, 2018
James Harrington, OSA Fellow and renowned expert in fiber optics and optical materials, passed away on 20 June 2018 at the age of 76. Harrington was known for his work in specialty fiber optics, including all aspects of infrared fibers fabrication, characterization, and applications. His recent research included the development of specialty fiber optics for use in the delivery of laser power in surgical and industrial applications. One of the most successful specialty fibers invented by Dr. Harrington and his students at Rutgers University is the hollow glass waveguide. Harrington had been an OSA Member since 1976.
Harrington received his undergraduate degree in physics from Grinnell College and pursued a master’s degree and doctorate in physics at Northwestern University (1970). Following graduation, Harrington worked as a Research Physicist at the Naval Research Laboratories in Washington, DC, and then became an assistant professor of physics at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), Alabama. After three years at UAH, Harrington moved to California to become the Senior Staff Physicist at Hughes Research Laboratory from 1977-1984, before transitioning into a commercial setting as the Director of Infrared Fiber Operations at Heraeues LaserSonics. While at Heraeues LaserSonics, Harrington was in charge of the research and development of fiber optics for delivering infrared laser power in surgical applications. In 1989, Harrington accepted a position at Rutgers University in the Materials Science and Engineering Department, where he would go on to become a Distinguished Professor during his 29-year career at the University.
In 2005, Harrington was selected to be a Jefferson Science Fellow at the U.S. Department of State. In that role, he served as a science advisor within the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation and assisted staff with the establishment of controls for dual-use high technology goods.
Harrington received numerous awards and recognitions during his career including the SPIE Gold Medal (2014) for 30 years of pioneering R&D in specialty fiber optics and IR optical materials. He was a Fellow of OSA and of SPIE and served as SPIE President in 2002. Harrington was an active volunteer within the optics and photonics community, serving SPIE in numerous roles including as President, Board Member, and Student Chapter Advisor. He was also the Treasurer for the International Commission for Optics (2008-2017), and an OSA member for 42 years.
OSA and the scientific community mourns the loss of James Harrington.