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Optics Institute's 75th on OSA Slate
Oct 2004
ROCHESTER, N.Y., Oct. 14 -- The Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, was on the "agenda" of the Optical Society of America's annual meeting, being held this week at the Rochester Convention Center.

Highlights this week included the groundbreaking of a new building to be shared by the university's optics and biomedical engineering departments, an address by US Sen. Hillary Clinton, an exhibit on the life of one of the institute’s founders and the release of a book detailing the institute’s history.

"This is an exciting time for us, because we can look back at where the last 75 years have brought us while laying the groundwork for some of the institute’s most exciting years to come," said Wayne Knox, director of the Institute of Optics. "We’re especially honored that the optics community, as well as Sen. Clinton, have turned out to recognize what a powerful force this institute has been in the world."

Knox broke ground Sunday on a new 100,000-square-foot building on campus that will house scientists studying both optics and biomedical engineering, with plenty of opportunities for collaboration, she said. Clinton addressed the OSA Monday, and Emil Wolf, professor of optics at the University of Rochester, spoke in a plenary session on optics and advanced technology. Wolf traced optics history from the 1860s to the 21st century to present a new development of which he played a major part: a unified theory of coherence and polarization, two key properties of light waves.

The institute was founded in 1929 as the nation's first program of higher education in the field of optics and has granted more than half of the optics bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in the nation. Optics, the study of light, spans disciplines at the university such as biology, physics, astronomy, chemistry, computer science and medicine. The faculty includes 10 fellows of the Optical Society of America (OSA), four fellows of the International Society for Optical Engineering and three fellows of the American Physical Society.

Rudolf and Hilda Kingslake, both key figures in the history of the Institute, are being honored in an exhibit at the university through Jan. 30. Rudolf Kingslake was one of two founding faculty members of the Institute of Optics in 1929 and a noted lens designer with the Eastman Kodak Co. His wife was also an accomplished scientist and historian at the Institute. The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections has acquired the Kingslake Archive, a meticulously kept record of their lives.

The institute is also releasing a book, "A Jewel in the Crown," dedicated to the Kingslakes. Edited by Carlos Stroud Jr., professor of optics and director of the Center for Quantum Information at the university, the book chronicles the history of the institute with 75 essays detailing pivotal people and research and portrays what working and learning at the institute was like over the years and makes projections for the future.

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