Craig Denman, a physicist with the Directed Energy Directorate Laser Div. of the US Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., was awarded the John L. McLucas Basic Research Award by the Air Force last month for his contributions to the development of a sodium wavelength laser for guidestar adaptive optics at the Starfire Optical Range. Denman is a member of the Optical Society of America and has been an adjunct professor in the University of New Mexico physics department. At present, he is working with the directorate’s optics division in a collaboration to create the world’s most advanced adaptive optics. He and counterparts developed the world’s highest-power, highest-quality yellow laser beam that, when projected into the night sky, excites atomic sodium at an altitude of 90 kilometers (about 56 miles) creating a guidestar -- a light source bright enough to be used with large ground-based telescopes equipped with adaptive optics to measure atmospheric turbulence and remove optical distortions. The result is a clearer image of objects in space. Denman received a bachelor’s in physics from San Diego State University in 1980 and a doctorate in experimental laser physics from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque in 1989. He joined the research staff of the directorate in 1984. The award recognizes achievements in in-house basic research activities for the Air Force.