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OSA | Living History

Mary E. Warga

Mary Warga earned her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, U.S. After getting her Ph.D., she became a professor of physics and the director of the spectroscopy laboratory. Her research focused on optical absorption, upper atmosphere spectroscopy, spectrochemical analysis and ultraviolet, visible, and infrared optical emission.

In 1958, the Board of Directors voted to establish a permanent executive office and recommended that she serve as Executive Secretary of the Society. She was formally appointed on 1 September 1959. That same year, Warga was  named to the first class of OSA Fellows. She traveled extensively, met with many people active in optics, encouraged them to join the organization, form local sections, and present their research at our meetings. She began a monthly column in JOSA to inform members about executive office operations and Society activities.

In 1960, with the invention of the laser, there was a tremendous surge in the interest in laser optics. Warga helped keep the meetings, journals, and the Society itself in the mainstream. In 1969, Jarus W. Quinn was appointed Executive Director, and Warga's role shifted to ceremonial functions until she retired in 1972.

 In 1973, she was the first winner of the Stephen D. Fantone Distinguished Service Award in appreciation of her advancement of the field of optics by her long devotion to the Society's affairs, in token acknowledgment of the multitude of friendly contacts that she has personally fostered in the Society's behalf, in gratitude for her so ably representing the Society in inter-society affairs, and in sincere recognition of the high esteem in which she is held by her many friends and colleagues

Warga died in 1991 at the age of 86.




Document Created: 22 Mar 2019
Last Updated: 9 Apr 2021