What is the Institute of Optics?

The Institute of Optics, internationally known as a leading center of education and research, has been educating scientists in the field of optics since 1929. An academic department in the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Institute was for most of its history the only institution in the country granting degrees in optics. More recently, other programs have been formed.

The City of Rochester has been called the optics capital of the country, having a history of leadership in the optics industry by such companies as Eastman Kodak, Bausch & Lomb, Xerox, and Tropel. Distinguished citizens of Rochester—George Eastman and Edward Bausch—were associated with the founding and nurturing of the Institute. The Institute of Optics has been strong in research in the traditional area of optical engineering as well as the more recently developed areas of quantum optics and laser physics.

The Institute of Optics has over twenty full-time faculty and many professors with optics joint appointments, as well as professors emeriti, part-time faculty, and faculty with joint appointments in other departments. Included on the current faculty are fellows of the Optica and of the American Physical Society, an Ives medalist, a Kingslake medalist, honorary degree recipients, past presidents of the Optica, a past-president of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers, and numerous associate editors of journals. The research interests of the faculty range over most areas of optics from basic to applied. For additional information on faculty, see our faculty directory.

The graduate students of the Institute of Optics are also diverse, with backgrounds in physics, electrical engineering, optical engineering, and other areas of science and engineering. No special knowledge of optics is assumed when a student enters, but he or she is quickly exposed to a wide range of topics including diffraction and wave propagation, optical system design, interferometry, laser physics, quantum mechanics, guided wave optics, electro-optics, and semiconductor optics. Graduate students form the backbone of the programs at the Institute. Without them, much of the research and teaching could not be done. Accordingly, they are valued as talented and capable coworkers.