Robert R. Alfano, a professor of science and engineering at the City College of New York and director of its Institute for Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers, has been named the recipient of the 2008 Optical Society of America (OSA) Charles Hard Townes Award, to be presented at OSA’s Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics, May 4-9 in San Jose, Calif. Alfano was honored for his discovery of and work on the supercontinuum, an ultrafast white light source produced by passing ultrafast laser pulses through matter. Alfano is among pioneers in ultrafast laser spectroscopic techniques and their application to processes in physical, chemical and biological systems, OSA said. His research interests include the study of ultrafast dynamics in matter; novel light sources, the supercontinuum and Cr4+ and Cr3+ tunable solid-state lasers in forsterite (Mg2SiO4), cunyite (Ca2GeO4) and emerald; nonlinear optical processes; optical spectroscopic techniques for medical diagnosis; photon migration in turbid media; optical techniques for biomedical imaging; laser tissue welding; and optical communications. He also resolved measurement of optical phonon lifetime in calcite crystal, invented tetravalent chromium-based tunable solid-state lasers, and developed optical biomedical imaging (optical mammography) and spectroscopic diagnostic (optical biopsy) techniques for cancer detection. A member of CCNY’s physics department since 1972, he was previously a research physicist at General Telephone Research Laboratories. He has published more than 700 papers, holds 102 patents, and is a fellow of the OSA, the American Physical Society and IEEE.