Weekly Memo

Feb. 9, 2015

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

     Jason Porter '97 ('04 PhD Optics), now an Associate Professor at the University of Houston College of Optometry, recently wrote to Stephen Jacobs, Professor of Optics and of Chemical Engineering, to congratulate Stephen on the recent Education Award he received from the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster/New York Photonics organization. "I have always been very impressed with your ability to conduct excellent research and focus on improving education," Jason wrote. "As a faculty member myself, I now appreciate how challenging it is to excel as a scientist and an educator. Witnessing your ability to excel in both areas when I was at Rochester showed me that it is possible to be a strong scientist and teacher, and is something I strive to do and improve on each day." Jason said he remembers several "great interactions" with Stephen while studying here, including discussions about the very first optics suitcase that Stephen put together with student members of the OSA chapter. "Thank you very much for your dedication to your work and teaching, as well as your belief in students." That is high praise indeed -- and well deserved.

     Several Hajim School students, back on campus after studying abroad, will meet this week at the Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center for tips on adding the experience to their resumes. Their overseas learning experience will definitely help set them apart from other candidates during internship and job interviews. For those of you who would like to study abroad, we're doing all we can to make it as easy as possible to do so. For example, we've just posted new lists, by country and major, of specific courses you can take at universities overseas that can be substituted for classes you would have been required to take here. In other words, you can study abroad and not miss a beat. Questions? Contact Rohan Palma, our study abroad adviser.

    It is always a pleasure to share news about the great research being conducted by our faculty and their students.

   Jiebo Luo, Professor of Computer Science, and his colleagues have developed an innovative approach to turn any computer or smartphone with a camera into a personal mental health monitoring device. They have devised a computer program that can analyze "selfie" videos recorded by a webcam as the person engages with social media. How? By extracting such "clues" as heart rate, blinking rate, eye pupil radius, and head movement rate -- and by also analyzing both what the users posted on Twitter, what they read, how fast they scrolled, their keystroke rate and their mouse click rate. Very impressive! Here's a news release with more information.

    Researchers at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics achieved a milestone recently when they successfully demonstrated they could launch shock waves of several hundred megabars into a spherical target using the 60 ultraviolet lasers of LLE's OMEGA laser facility. This is an important step in the quest to achieve inertial confinement fusion with a technique called "shock ignition." Ryan Nora, a recent PhD student in Physics and lead author, worked with Riccardo Betti, the Robert L. McCrory Professor of Mechanical Engineering and of Physics and Astronomy. The experiments were possible thanks to a close collaboration with LLE scientists, in particular Wolfgang Theobald, a leading LLE experimentalist in the area of intense lasers. Congratulations to all involved. You can read more here.

   And Robert Boyd, Professor of Optics and of Physics, successfully collaborated with researchers from Canada, Europe, and the United States to experimentally produce MÖbius strips from the polarization of light. A Mobius strip is a three dimensional structure that has only one side. This not only improves our fundamental understanding of optical polarization but could have applications in generating complex structures at micro and nanoscales. Well done, Robert. And here's more on this achievement.

    As always, keep me updated and have a great week.


Robert L. Clark
Professor and Dean