OSA | Living History

Roland V. Shack

OSA Awards & Distinctions



Roland V Shack was born in Chicago, Illinois, USA on 15 January 1927. His family moved to Washington D.C., and later graduated from Washington & Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia in 1944. At this time, he received a Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award and a full scholarship to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but enlisted in the army instead of attending college. He was able to complete some education during his two years of service, and when discharged tried to return to MIT. However, due to the high number of returning veterans, the wait to enroll was too long for Roland, who ultimately decided to attend the University of Maryland, College Park to study physics. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics there in 1949. Two years later, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts from American University in Washington, D.C.

His professional career began at the National Bureau of Standards. In 1957, he moved to Norwalk, Connecticut to work for the Perkin-Elmer Corporation. After three years, he was encouraged to pursue a Ph.D., which he did. He moved his family to the United Kingdom where he studied at Imperial College London. He completed his Ph.D. in 1965 and returned to Perkin-Elmer in the US. However, this was merely a stop on the way to a professorship at the University of Arizona beginning in the fall of 1965. In 1989, he started to expand the undergraduate offerings at the Optical Sciences Center significantly. Shack remained in this role until 1973.

Shack received extensive recognition for his significant contributions, including the 1998 SPIE A.E. Conrady Award in Optical Engineering, the 2004 SPIE Gold Medal, and the 2003 OSA David Richardson Medal. He was a Fellow of OSA and SPIE.

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Document Created: 18 Sep 2020
Last Updated: 18 Sep 2020