Light People: Professor James C. Wyant

Editor: YU Cun | Aug 23, 2021



Professor James C. Wyant is the founding dean of the University of Arizona


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Biography: James C. Wyant is a professor emeritus and founding dean at the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona, where he was director (1999–2005), dean (2005–2012), and a faculty member since 1974. He received a B.S. in physics from Case Institute of Technology and M.S. and Ph.D. in optics from the University of Rochester. He was a founder of the WYKO Corporation and served as its president and board chairman from 1984 to 1997 and he was a founder of the 4D Technology Corporation and served as its board chairman from 2002 to 2018. Wyant is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Inventors, a Fellow of OSA (Optical Society of America) and SPIE (International Society of Optics and Photonics), a distinguished fellow of the Optical Society of India, an honorary member of the Optical Society of Korea, and former editor-in-chief of the OSA journal Applied Optics. He was the 2010 president of OSA and the 1986 president of SPIE. Wyant has received several awards for his technical work, including the OSA Joseph Fraunhofer Award; SPIE Gold Medal; SPIE Technology Achievement Award; SPIE Chandra Vikram Award; SPIE Visionary Award; and five R&D 100 awards. He received the University of Rochester College of Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Case Alumni Association Gold Medal Award, Case Western Reserve University Athletic Hall of Fame, the University Medal from Case Western Reserve University, and an Honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Rochester. For his entrepreneurial activities, Wyant has received several awards, including Arizona’s “Innovator of the Year” Product Award; the Tom Brown Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award; and the University of Arizona Technology Innovation Award. The University of Arizona renamed the College of Optical Sciences the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences in 2019.


s College of Optical Sciences. He was elected president of the OSA and the SPIE, two of the most respected international academic organizations in the world of optics. He is the founder or co-founder of multiple hi-tech companies. Professor Wyant is many things: master of optics, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, but above all, he is one of those rare lucky people who see their childhood dreams come true. He is the hardworking scientist who pushes optical science to the limit. He is the successful entrepreneur whose Midas touch turns research achievements into lucrative commercial projects. He is the generous philanthropist who has given a large fortune to help promote the development of optical science. He is the avid athlete who enjoys the outdoors and takes pleasure in hiking and running. From tender memories to cutting-edge research and hard-nosed business advice, Prof. Wyant will share with us how he became fascinated with optics and what he thinks about academic life and organizations.
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