OSA Fellows represent a diverse group of members who have served with distinction in the advancement of optics and photonics.  In 2017, OSA started interviewing a number of Fellow members in order to share their unique stories, advice, and experience with the OSA community. 
Please take a moment to get to know an OSA Fellow.  If you are interested in participating, please contact the OSA Awards Office (

    • RPaschotta

      Rüdiger Paschotta

      RP Photonics, Germany

      Citation: For the creation of an online encyclopedia on optics and photonics and for important contributions to the understanding and optimization of ultrafast lasers.

      • RHorng

        Ray-Hua Horng

        National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan

        Citation: For contributions to Green Photonics, and in particular for developing high brightness Light Emitting Diodes and high efficiency Solar Cells.

        • MKafesaki

          Maria Kafesaki

          University of Crete and Forth-IESL, Greece

          Citation: For the ground-breaking numerical demonstration of large gaps for optical and acoustic materials and for seminal contributions to photonic crystals, metamaterials science and nanophotonics.

          Maria’s Profile

          Maria Kafesaki always wanted to learn new things but did not initially connect that drive with a career as a scientist. In her childhood, she wanted to be a high school teacher. She grew up in a small town in Greece where a woman scientist, especially in natural sciences or engineering, was not common. However, by the time she reached her third year of undergraduate studies, she knew she wanted to spend her life in the scientific field. She could not abandon science for a “regular” job.

          Although there were times when she wanted to give up, she realized that she did not want to let go of the excitement of science. Maria feels lucky that the obstacles she faced could be overcome with hard work, determination, and the support of her colleagues.

          Currently, Maria is working for the Department of Materials Science and Technology of the University of Crete and for the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH), Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser (IESL), in Greece. She is member of the Photonic, Phononic and Meta-Materials (PPM) group. She finds her field a very exciting field of research because there is still “space for basic research, for finding novel physical phenomena and associated possibilities” which is rare in scientific fields with a longer research history.

          Finding something interesting, novel and highly unexpected is her biggest research challenge. She focuses on electromagnetic metamaterials, i.e. artificially structured materials with unusual and novel electromagnetic properties, and performs analytical calculations or computer simulations to discover novel phenomena. In these materials the material properties depend on the geometry of their subwavelength in scale building blocks and, thus, can be engineered, in many cases, at will, to create novel and exciting macroscopic properties. Maria says that the coolest discovery she has made, which occurred as part of a team, was “the realization and demonstration that one cannot achieve strong magnetic response at arbitrarily high frequencies, and the identification of ways to achieve strong high-frequency magnetic response.” She finds that her field has the right combination of challenge and excitement to keep her motivated and interested.

          Technology, according to Maria, offers great tools and potential for scientists to establish and maintain collaborations, read interesting papers, and stay current on advances in the field, especially if traveling to a conference is not possible. Maria sees her field of research continually growing and deems this a great sign of its potential in research and applications. She is happy about these developments and thrilled that the initial promises of the field seem close to becoming real applications.

          Inspired by a paper from OSA Fellow Prof. Nikolay Zheludev, University of Southampton, UK, and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, which featured the “meta-material Tree of Knowledge”, she likes to visualize her field as a growing tree with new branches emerging and bearing ripening fruit. Moreover, the same metaphor applies to optics and photonics as a whole. More and more people are realizing the exciting opportunities offered by the unique properties of photons. The whole field is attracting more interest and is being increasingly utilized in applications.

          Maria credits OSA journals and newsletters with keeping her current on state-of-the-art technologies in her field and uses all of OSA’s information channels. Becoming an OSA Fellow was her first personal international distinction, which made it a special honor.

          When asked about advice for someone just starting out in their career, she says, “Be patient and persevere—new discoveries do not usually come with the first attempt.” She also says that it is important to keep a broad overview of the field as well as related or neighboring fields.

          • AArmani

            Andrea Armani

            University of Southern California, United States

            Citation: For contributions to integrated photonics with applications in telecommunication and chemical and biological detection.

            • MJarrahi

              Mona Jarrahi

              University of California, Los Angeles, United States

              Citation: For pioneering contributions to terahertz optoelectronics and microwave photonics through development of novel engineered materials, plasmonic nanostructures, and quantum well devices.

              • IJex

                Igor Jex

                Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic

                Citation: For contributions to the applications of optical networks in quantum optics, in particular, for their use for quantum state measurement and in implementing quantum walks using the optical feedback loop.

                • SSumriddetchkajorn

                  Sarun Sumriddetchkajorn

                  National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC), Thailand

                  Citation: For outstanding contribution to photonics engineering especially for innovative implementation of biomedical devices, fiber-optic components, and sensing systems.

                  • APetersen

                    Alan B. Petersen

                    Spectra-Physics, MKS Instruments, Inc., United States

                    Citation: For significant and innovative contributions to the design of commercial scientific and industrial UV laser systems and for long term service to the optics community.

                    Alan’s Profile

                    Unlike many other recent OSA Fellows, Alan B. Petersen's scientific achievements are tracked less in academic journals and more in the patent literature. Petersen, a senior scientist at Spectra-Physics/MKS for more than three decades, has amassed many U.S. patents to his name, with others pending in the United States and other countries.

                    Petersen began his four-decade career working on infrared molecular gas lasers and progressed over the years to numerous improvements in ultraviolet lasers, from cavity design to fiber-coupled diode pumping. “I've actually managed to find a productive, satisfying niche where I am,” he says.

                    Growing up in the East Bay region of California near San Francisco, Petersen liked to tinker with radios and cars along with his father, who he thinks “was a frustrated scientist himself.” In high school, his chemistry teacher inspired him to perform complicated experiments. He heard of “funny stuff” going on in nearby Silicon Valley and thought that he might like to own an electronics business someday.

                    Petersen went to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) to study electrical engineering, but switched his major to applied physics in order to avoid a mandatory class in technical presentations. “Boy, that was a mistake,” he says now. “I eventually learned that you can't recede into your little scientific hole and fail to communicate. Whether you're selling your idea to a funding agency or a conference or a customer, you have to give a good technical presentation. I don't have any fear of public speaking anymore, but getting that advice early on would have been pretty helpful.”

                    The Caltech campus attracted the brightest young minds and worked them hard. “Wow, I was gasping for breath, I found myself really challenged,” Petersen recalls. Toward the end of his undergraduate career, he went for long walks to ponder his options. In those days, most Caltech undergrads went straight to graduate school. He told himself, “I’m just getting control of some ideas. I can't quit now,” and went on to the University of Southern California (USC).

                    Petersen was the first doctoral student of Curt Wittig, who was then in USC's electrical engineering department. Wittig had invented the continuous-wave carbon monoxide chemical laser in 1969, though his interests gradually evolved toward fundamental studies of molecules and he eventually joined the chemistry department.

                    After completing his Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1977, Petersen took a postdoctoral fellowship under Ian W.M. Smith at Cambridge University in England. Wittig had been one of Smith's postdocs just a few years earlier. Smith, as Petersen recalls, was a clever physical chemist who could get excellent results with minimal laboratory equipment. In addition to scientific productivity, Petersen found love in England: he met his future wife.

                    Next, Petersen accepted an assistant professorship at the University of Illinois, but he began to question his career path. After living in California and the United Kingdom, he felt a bit of culture shock in the Midwest. And his soon-to-be wife had a faculty position in California. Rather than let himself get heavily invested in Illinois, he left that position and headed out to the Golden State to seek whatever employment he could find. He landed at Spectra-Physics in Silicon Valley and has worked at the company ever since.

                    “The nice thing about working at a for-profit laser company is that everybody knows what pays the bills,” Petersen says, adding that he and his colleagues take pride in seeing the equipment they develop find application in science and industry.

                    Although Petersen belongs to several professional societies, he says OSA most closely aligns with his interests. He has reviewed numerous OSA journal articles, served on CLEO and other committees, and now co-chairs the sources program committee for OSA's Advanced Solid State Lasers conference.

                    In the early days of lasers, when they were still uncommon instruments, researchers often cited the specific model number of their device. Now the devices are often taken for granted in scientific experiments, but Petersen is grateful for the role he's played in the evolution of that mindset. “I go home every night knowing I'm making a contribution to bettering the world,” he says.

                    This profile was written by Patricia Daukantas, a freelance science writer who specializes in optics and photonics.

                    • JPoon[Image: Courtesy of Rodney Daw]

                      Joyce Kai See Poon

                      University of Toronto, Canada

                      Citation: For outstanding contributions to the research and development of silicon-based integrated optics including micro-resonators, electro-optic modulators, and integrated hybrid photonics.

                      • CMasoller

                        Cristina Masoller

                        Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Spain

                        Citation: For contributions in the area of nonlinear dynamics of optical systems.

                        • SAchilefu

                          Samuel Achilefu

                          Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL), USA

                          Citation: For pioneering the development of near infrared molecular imaging and image-guided surgical resection of cancer, and exceptional leadership and service to the biomedical optics community.

                          • RSoufli

                            Regina Soufli

                            Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA

                            Citation: For pioneering contributions to the development and characterization of extreme ultraviolet, X-ray and gamma-ray optics.

                            • PSaari

                              Peeter Saari

                              University of Tartu, Estonia

                              Citation: for pioneering contributions in the areas of non-diffracting localized waves, ultrafast optics and holography, and optical spectroscopy of low-temperature solids, including discovery of hot luminescence.

                              • MZghal

                                Mourad Zghal

                                University of Carthage, Tunisia

                                Citation: For outstanding research on novel photonic systems and devices, and for contributions to optics education in Africa.