3 Questions with Jennifer Kruschwitz of the University of Rochester

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Photonics Media got in touch with Jennifer Kruschwitz, an optical coating engineer, color scientist, and assistant professor of optics at the University of Rochester who has run her own optics consulting business since 1998. We asked about her wide-ranging career and her goals for the future.

Jennifer Kruschwitz

Jennifer Kruschwitz

How did a degree in optics lead you into the study of color?

My first optics job out of undergrad was working in coatings for Itek Optical Systems in 1989. At Itek, I designed windows for stealth aircraft and coatings for space satellites. I moved back to Rochester, N.Y., two years later to pursue my M.S. at the Institute of Optics. I stayed with coating design throughout my early career, through a stint at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics working on the Omega upgrade in 1992, and then worked on coatings for lighting at Bausch + Lomb (B&L) in 1994. It was at B&L that my coating designs had color requirements. I used color calculations that I had learned from my colorimetry course taught by Dr. David MacAdam at the University of Rochester back in 1988. I continued to design color coatings for lighting and display when I left B&L to start my own consulting company, JK Consulting, in 1998. When I decided to go back to school in 2010 to earn my doctorate, I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the Program of Color Science at Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT’s) Munsell Color Science Laboratory. It is hard to believe that Dr. MacAdam set me on a path over 30 years ago, and I am so very glad that he was part of my academic life.

Do you remember your first designs, your first coatings? Was there anything in particular you learned from them that still holds true?

There are two designs that I remember from Itek, one being for a stealth aircraft window that won me a Trade Secret award from Itek within the first six months of my employment. The second was for a design that would reflect 633 nanometers but could be altered in a simple manner to allow reflectance for different regions of the infrared. This was my first introduction to a “ratio stack” high-reflector design that I learned from Dr. Philip Baumeister. When you ratio the optical thicknesses of the high and low index layers in the main multilayer stack, you may not alter the main high-reflecting wavelength region, but you will alter the position of the lower-wavelength high-reflecting harmonics. All of the students I have taught coatings to over the last decade will tell you how important ratio stacks are for many design strategies for optical thin films.

Your online bio says you’ve spent your career as an optical coating engineer, but it seems there’s nothing you haven’t done! You’ve designed coatings for everything from eyewear for pilots to IMAX projection. You provide technical sales support for optical software in Australia and the Middle East. You teach, you hold patents, you have a consulting business. You recently received a doctorate in color science, and in 2018 you published a book on colorimetry through SPIE Press. You are also a fourth-degree black belt in taekwondo. What’s next?

I plan on teaching the next generation of optics students and instilling in them the belief that they can make a difference in our field, no matter what discipline within optics they pursue. I do not consider myself unique. Everything I have accomplished in my lifetime so far was due to continuous learning and perseverance. Small steps that lead you to a larger goal. My next big goal is to become a fifth-degree dan (master level) in taekwondo before I reach 60. My grandmaster, Sung C. Kim, has just become the youngest eighth-degree dan in the U.S. He is a great mentor, and I know if I remain committed and focused, I will be able to check that off of my bucket list soon.

Published: July 2019
The methods used to measure color and to define the results of the measurements.
Bausch + LombOpticscolor B&LBausch & LombDavid MacAdamJennifer Kruschwitzinstitute of opticsPhilip BaumeisterItekcolorimetryJK Consultingratio stackOptics Special SectionRochester Institute of Technology

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