WASHINGTON – The Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester has named Professor Tom Brown as the new director. Dr. Brown, an Optica Fellow, served as Interim Director since July 2021. He has a distinguished history at The Institute of Optics, having served as the founding director of the Robert E. Hopkins Center for Optical Design and Engineering. Dr. Brown was most recently named Mercer Brugler Professor in recognition of his outstanding teaching and instructional innovations. During his career, Dr. Brown’s research has made major and foundational impacts in a wide range of fields from silicon photonics, to structured light (vector beams) to stress-engineered optics.
“It’s great news for The Institute. Tom is a thoughtful and dedicated leader, scientist and educator. He was the founding director of the Hopkins Center and has led a number of curricular reforms and initiatives at the undergraduate and graduate level,” said P. Scott Carney, chief science and technology officer for Optica. “The consistent hallmark with Tom is a commitment to the success of students; he always demands excellence and never loses sight of their humanity. We sometimes talk of the breadth or depth of expertise. Tom has volume, an unmatched combination of breadth and depth that will enable him to lead the oldest academic department in U.S. optics into its next phase.”
Professor Tom Brown remarked, “I am pleased to serve as the director of The Institute of Optics in Rochester. With the support of our faculty, staff and alumni along with a wonderful worldwide community, we will continue to build and grow the Institute’s research and educational programs as well as outreach to industry. This is an impactful time as we head into The Institute’s Centennial in 2029.”
Professor Brown began his work in optics and optoelectronics in 1978 as an optical fiber systems designer at GTE Laboratories. While there, he wrote the systems modeling software which was used to design the first live-traffic 1.3 µm optical fiber telephone link. Since that time, he has had consultancies and technical collaboration with companies such as Qualcomm, IBM, Corning Inc., ABB Kent-Taylor, Amp, Rockwell, Rochester Gas and Electric, and Emerson Corporation, along with several law firms and many of the Industrial Associates of the Institute of Optics. His doctoral dissertation, carried out at the Institute of Optics under the supervision of Professor Dennis Hall, was in the area of silicon-based optoelectronics/photonics with particular emphasis on mechanisms for extrinsic light emission in silicon. Since joining the Institute faculty in 1987, Professor Brown has taught on both the graduate and undergraduate levels, established an undergraduate honors research program, and for ten years served as undergraduate chair.