Adamson epitomizes Hajim School spirit

At the start of the 2013-2014 academic year, Per Adamson, the director of the teaching labs at the Institute of Optics, stood in the Park Lot with two of his colleagues on a hot, steamy day, handing out ice cream to incoming freshmen and their parents, who were waiting in a long line of cars on Moving-In Day.

It was Adamson’s way of drumming up support for the Institute, which is working hard to increase its undergraduate enrollment.

Robert Clark, Dean of Engineering, cited this as a great example of the Hajim School spirit in presenting Adamson with the school’s Outstanding Staff Award.

“I think the ice cream alone would have qualified Per for this award,” Clark said. “But in fact, that’s just one of many ways he has demonstrated his unswerving commitment to the Institute, our school and this University.”

Adamson has been director of the Institute’s undergraduate labs for 15 years.  Located on the fifth floor of Wilmot, they consist of 17 laboratory rooms and a fully equipped darkroom. Just keeping them running would be a big job. But Adamson is no mere custodian.

When the Institute hosted its first Photon Camp for high school students, Adamson worked with other optics staff to develop more than 15 separate lab activities to introduce the students to academic and career opportunities in optics.

Whenever a prospective student shows up, Per gladly provides a one-on-one tour. Earlier this summer, Institute Director Xi-Cheng Zhang passed along a thank you note Adamson received from one such student. "Thank you very much for dropping everything and taking the time to give me a tour of the Optics labs," the student wrote. “The tour really opened my eyes, and I am very grateful. Optical engineering is now something I am considering."

Adamson’s name shows up in the acknowledgements that optics students give at the front of their PhD dissertations.

“Special thanks go out to Per Adamson who has always been an indispensable resource for laboratory equipment as well as great conversations,” one student wrote. “My conversations with Per Adamson, whether they were personal, carpentry-related, or scientific, have also benefited me and my house in many ways,” another wrote.

And yet another thanked Adamson for  “sharing the harvest of his garden and beehives so generously.”

"Suffice it to say, the education that takes place in that busy beehive we know as the Institute of Optics is a far sweeter, more rewarding experience because of Per Adamson," Clark said.