Logo: University of Southern California

Viterbi professor elected editor of Optics Letters

Alan Willner to helm renowned publication

May 22, 2008 —
Alan Willner

Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering professor Alan Willner has been named editor-in-chief of the prestigious journal Optics Letters, published by the Optical Society of America. 

The renowned optics and engineering publication ranks number two among optics journals as listed by Thomson’s ISI Journal Citation Report, which ranks scholarly journals based on the scale of an ‘Impact Factor.’  “It is considered one of the flagship journals in all of optics,” Willner said.
Optics Letters receives nearly 2,500 manuscripts annually, about half from outside the U.S., and maintains approximately a 50 percent acceptance rate, publishing about 1,000 research papers per year. It employs around 30 Topical Editors from around the world. For Willner, achieving the post represents a milestone in his career, he said.
“Even when I was a student 25 years ago I remember reading some of the seminal papers in the field in Optics Letters,” Willner said. “Ever since I was a puppy,” the journal has been the standard-bearer for optics research, he said, and rising to the position of editor there is a distinct honor for him.
The journal covers an expansive range of topics.
“Anything to do with optics, all inclusive. If it has a photon, it can go in there.” His job as editor is, in a nutshell, is “to protect and serve,” he said – protect the standards and reputation of Optics Letters and serve the readers as best he can.
Optics Letters is Willner’s third editorship. Previously, he helmed the Journal of Lightwave Technology, published jointly by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the OSA, and for the IEEE’s Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics. Willner received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Columbia University, and is currently a professor of electrical engineering/systems at USC. Additionally, he is the associate director for the USC Center for Photonics Technology, co-director of the USC Communications Sciences Institute, and was an associate director for Student Affairs for the NSF Engineering Research Center in Multimedia.
Along with those accolades, Willner has also served as president of the IEEE’s Laser and Electro-Optics Society and has 670 publications credited to his name, including a book. His research centers on optical communications, optical signal processing, optical networks, fiber optics, and optical device technologies. His post as editor-in-chief for Optics Letters began in January and is a three-year term.