After earning his B. Eng. in physics and Ph.D. in applied physics from Cornell University, Richard L. Abrams began his research career at Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1968 and joined Hughes in 1971.
His research accomplishments, which include numerous publications and patents, involve gas lasers, IR sensors, optical communications, and nonlinear optics. From 1983 to 1989, Abrams was chief scientist, Defense Systems Division, Hughes' Space and Communications Group, where he was responsible for the application of technology to communication spacecraft.
At Hughes Research Laboratories (HRL), his responsibilities included the advancement of R&D in all areas of importance to GM Hughes Electronics. Abrams retired as chief scientist of HRL in 1996. Since that time Abrams has continued his career as a part-time consultant, primarily for the U.S. government. He has served on the Technical Advisory Committee for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Laser Science and Technology Program and, as a consultant, has performed studies for DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office to advise them on future directions for their laser technology programs. He continues to serve DARPA in similar capacities.
Abrams has played active roles in management of a variety of technical conferences, nominating, steering, and award committees for a number of professional societies. He has served as associate editor of the IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics, Optics Letters, and has been a member of the Board of Editors for the Proceedings of the IEEE. He has served on both the IEEE and OSA governing boards, including as IEEE president.
Abrams is a member of Tau Beta Pi and Phi Kappa Phi honorary societies, and is a fellow of both IEEE and OSA. Other awards include the Hughes Aircraft Company's Lawrence A. Hyland Patent Award and the IEEE Centennial Medal.