OSA award honors deceased optical communications pioneer

OSA Foundation raising funds for Tingye Li Innovation Award.

The OSA Foundation, the Optical Society of America’s charity arm, says it has created an award to honor optical communications pioneerTingye Li, who passed away last month at age 81.

The foundation has embarked on fundraising for the Tingye Li Innovation Award, which will go to the top-performing young professionals whose research presented at the annual OFC Conference and Exposition shows the most innovation. The foundation hopes to raise at least $150,000 to permanently endow the award, which would be presented annually at OFC. (Those interested in contributing to the fundraising effort can do so at www.osa.org/donate).

Li’s career in communications began in 1957 when he joined Bell Telephone Laboratories (later AT&T Bell Laboratories). During his 41 years at the labs (he retired in 1998), Li authored and coauthored more than 100 journal papers, patents, and books in the areas of antennas, microwave propagation, lasers, and optical communications. He is credited with spearheading research on wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM).

He was very active within the OSA, which he joined in 1966. Li was named an OSA Fellow in 1977, served as an at-large member of the OSA Board of Directors from 1985-1987, and spent a year as OSA president in 1995. During his tenure with the association, he chaired several committees and was a leader in building the OSA-co-sponsored Asia Communications and Photonics (ACP) conference.

“Tingye was that rare combination of pioneering scientist and inspiring mentor,” said G. Michael Morris, chair of The OSA Foundation Board. “One of his favorite sayings was ‘It is by standing on the shoulders of giants that we are able to see further.’ By aiming to establish an award in Tingye’s honor, The OSA Foundation hopes to provide future generations of scientists the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of Tingye—a giant in his own right.”


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