OSA | Living History

Harold H. Hopkins

OSA Awards & Distinctions



OSA Fellow Harold Hopkins was born on 6 December 1918 in Leicester, UK. Due to his knowledge, abilities, and support from family and teachers, he was able to earn a scholarship that allowed him to attend The Gateway Grammar School. It was here that the Headmaster recognized his talents in science. He graduated from University College, Leicester in 1939. He intended to complete a PhD in Nuclear Physics immediately afterwards, but this was cancelled due to the outbreak of war.

It was then that he was introduced to optical design when he went to work for Taylor, Taylor & Hobson. He was eventually called to serve in the war where he worked on designing optical systems and, at the same time, completed work for a PhD thesis which he earned in 1945.

In 1947, he began a research fellowship at Imperial College London. For the next 20 years, he became one of the foremost authorities in optics and attracted a large number of PhD students from around the world. In 1967, he moved to Reading University to become the chair in optics for a newly-created program. He was convinced that teaching an scientific research were vitally important to each other as he thought that teaching helped to understand research.

Throughout his career, he became well known in a number of optical fields including zoom lens, fiber optics, coherent fiber optics, fibroscopes and borescopes, rod-lens endoscopes, and modular transfer function such as laserdisc and CD optics.

In 1978, OSA awarded him its highest honor the Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus Quinn Prize "in recognition of his many unique contributions to the field of optics, including aberration theory, optical design, image evaluation, coherence theory, interferometry, and fiber optics."  Hopkins was also awarded the SPIE Gold Medal in 1982 and the Rumford Medal in 1984. He was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

He passed away at the age of 75 on 22 October 1994 in Reading, UK.



Document Created: 24 Apr 2018
Last Updated: 2 Jul 2019