Popescu elected a fellow of the Optical Society of America

ECE News

Daniel Dexter, ECE ILLINOIS
3/17/2015

Story Highlights

  • Popescu joins a group of 75 other members in the 2015 class of OSA fellows.
  • At Illinois, Popescu has helped found and organize the Biophotonics Summer School and the Illinois Optics seminar series.
  • Popescu's work has focused on helping turn biology into an engineering-oriented science through microscopic devices that use light scattering and interferometry to turn imaging into a quantitative measurement tool.

In recognition of his dedication and contributions to the field, Associate Professor Gabriel Popescu was recently elected as a fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA).

Popescu joins a group of 75 other members in the 2015 class of OSA Fellows. He considers it an honor to be a part of the exclusive group that is limited to no more than 10 percent of the organization’s membership.

He received his nomination for his research on “quantitative and nanoscale imaging of cells and tissues.” Popescu’s work has focused on helping turn biology into an engineering-oriented science through microscopic devices that use light scattering and interferometry to turn imaging into a quantitative measurement tool. This quantitative phase imaging research, on which he published a book (McGraw-Hill), is an emerging topic in the optics field, which he hopes will continue to develop in the coming years.

“We hope to continue to push and establish an area that will make contributions to biomedicine,” Popescu said. “In early February, we had the Photonics West Conference in San Francisco, where we attended our first-ever conference on quantitative phase imaging, which I co-chaired with a professor from Korea. We had more than 100 papers submitted to this inaugural conference, which is a strong sign that the field is advancing and maturing fast.”

As a fellow, Popescu hopes to continue the outreach the Optical Society has in the field by giving lectures abroad and organizing more conferences to increase education opportunities.

At Illinois, Popescu founded and organized with colleagues five editions of the Biophotonics Summer School, which brings together students from many countries to an intense two-week training program on biomedical optics. He also founded and co-organized with graduate students the Illinois Optics (iOptics) seminar series, which provides biweekly seminars on optics-related topics, with speakers from Illinois and outside. Popescu serves as faculty advisor for the Illinois OSA Student Chapter.

“The Optical Society has played a great role not only in keeping technical optics scientists together in a family, but also in helping make the non-optics people more aware of all the research that is going on within the field,” Popescu said. “I was fortunate enough to have two former OSA Presidents as my teachers, Emil Wolf and Eric Van Stryland, which allowed me to witness first-hand the level of dedication to optics associated with the society.”

He became a member of the student chapter of the Optical Society as graduate student at the University of Central Florida’s Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL) in 1997.

“I think the Optical Society is a great environment for new technology development,” Popescu said. “Anytime we can get people in a room,  talking and exchanging ideas, great things start to happen. The Optical Society of America has really been doing that very well for almost 100 years.”

Recently, Popescu was awarded the OSA Fellow Travel Grant to join the organizing committee and deliver an invited talk at ROMOPTO, an optics conference organized by the Romanian Academy of Sciences in Bucharest this fall. This event is particularly significant as 2015 is the International Year of Light, as designated by the United Nations. 

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