The Bernard J. Couillaud Prize

Sponsored by


The OSA Foundation (OSAF) and Coherent, Inc. have partnered to create the Bernard J. Couillaud Prize. The Prize provides the opportunity for an early-career professional (1-5 years post highest degree) to pursue a compelling and innovative project that has the potential to make a meaningful and positive impact on the science and applications of ultrafast lasers. One early career professional will receive a merit-based award which includes a $20,500 USD prize  and $5,000 USD in travel expenses.

The goal is to support individuals in the area of ultrafast photonics for the purpose of providing dynamic and rigorous research with a state of the art approach to solving difficult, real-world problems. Recipients will be granted total research freedom with consideration being given to the following: 1. Work focused on advancing basic research or; 2. Efforts focused on transitioning an idea into a commercial innovation. The prize is expected to help the recipient in their pursuit of the most compelling and interesting research issues in ultrafast optics. The Bernard J. Couillaud Prize is a personal prize and is not renewable. This merit-based prize is a $20,500 stipend along with up to $5,000 in travel expenses to attend an OSA scientific conferences. Travel expense reimbursement subject to OSA’s most current travel reimbursement policy.

Application Opens: 12 November 2018

Application Closes: 8 March 2019 

Applicants must meet all of the following criteria:

Must be an early career professional (1-5 years post highest degree) pursuing a compelling project that has a meaningful global impact.
Work in the field of ultrafast photonics
Demonstrated the unique nature and global reach of the project.
Applications must include:

A CV or resume.
A statement describing why you think you would benefit from receiving this prize.
Current research description with a focus on how your work will have a global impact.
Example of published work
Two references

The Prize will honor the extrCouillaudaordinary contributions of Bernard J. Couillaud, former President and CEO of Coherent and later Chairman of the Board of Directors. A native of France, Couillaud earned his PhD in Laser Physics in 1978 at the University of Bordeaux and later became a full-time professor there. During his time at Bordeaux, he formed a colorful and storied partnership with colleague André Ducasse that pioneered continuous wave and pulsed dye lasers. Finding his way to California, he completed a three-year visiting fellowship at Stanford University that yielded, in collaboration with T.W. Hansch, the Hansch-Couillaud technique of laser frequency stabilization.

Joining Coherent in 1983, he was instrumental in the development of numerous Dye, DPSS, and Ti:S lasers in his roles as Director of Engineering, Business Unit Manager, and Vice President of the Laser Group. Along the arc of this extraordinary academic and industrial career, he authored 65 publications and received numerous patents. He became President and CEO of Coherent in 1996 and served in that capacity until 2002. Dr. Couillaud then became Chairman of the Board of Directors until his retirement in 2007. He gave more than a lifetime’s worth of dedication and achievements to physics, lasers, and photonics, and he remains an inspiration to everyone that called him friend, colleague, boss, or mentor.

Selection Commitee:

  • Marco Arrigoni, Coherent, USA
  • Francesca Calegari, Deutsches Elketronen-Synchrotron (DESY), Germany
  • Steve Cundiff, University of Michigan, USA
  • Ursula Keller, ETH Zurich, Switzerland 
  • Eric Mottay, Amplitude, France
  • Donna Strickland, University of Waterloo, Canada
  • Kaoru Yamanouchi, Univ. of Toyko, Japan