2006 OSA President Eric Van Stryland, known for developing the z-scan technique with colleague Mansoor Sheik-Bahae, received a Ph.D. in physics in 1976 from the University of Arizona, Optical Sciences Center, USA. The z-scan method measures the nonlinear properties of a material. Applications of nonlinear materials include all-optical switching and sensing.
After receiving his doctorate, Van Stryland worked in the areas of femtosecond pulse production, multiphoton absorption in solids, and laser induced damage at the Center for Laser Studies at the University of Southern California for two years. In 1978 he joined the physics department at the University of North Texas in 1978 and helped form the Center for Applied Quantum Electronics, serving as chairman of the center for two years.
In 1987 Van Stryland joined the newly formed Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL) at the University of Central Florida (UCF). He became director of the School of Optics/CREOL in 1999. When the school was elevated to the College of Optics and Photonics, Van Stryland became Dean of the College. In 2003, when Florida Governor Jeb Bush established the Florida Photonics Center of Excellence, Van Stryland became director of that center as well.
For over 25 years the National Science Foundation has funded Van Stryland’s research into characterizing the nonlinear optical properties of materials and application of these materials in such areas as optical switching, sensor protection, and beam control.
Van Stryland served as an OSA member of the board of directors, representing both the Society’s education council and its science and engineering council before becoming President. He also has volunteered as a CLEO subcommittee chair and steering committee member, was co-chair of the 1999 OSA annual meeting and has been a supervisor of the Florida OSA local student chapter. Additionally, Van Stryland has held the positions of topical editor for Optics Letters and as associate editor for the Handbook of Optics. In addition, he has organized over 50 technical conferences for numerous professional organizations, published over 300 papers including the Z-scan paper which was acknowledges as the most cited paper in the history of the Journal of Quantum Electronics.
He is a fellow of OSA, IEEE, APS and SPIE, received an R&D 200 award, and received UCF’s highest honor and was named “Pegasus Professor” in 2003.
Van Stryland was an instrumental co-chair of OSA's Centennial Advisory Committee which was charged with planning OSA's 100th Anniversary in 2016.