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Alan Willner Receives the 2010 Paul F. Forman Engineering Excellence Award

Ming Hsieh Department professor wins Optical Society of America recognition for his work in optical fiber technology
Lisa Heckaman
November 10, 2010 —

The holder of the Viterbi School chair named after former President Steven Sample and his wife Kathryn has added still another high honor to his long list of distinctions.

Alan Willner
Alan Willner's latest recognition is the Paul F. Forman Engineering Excellence Award from the Optical Society of America,  marking technical advances in optical fiber communications technologies that have enabled major improvements in the performance and reliability of wavelength-division-multiplexed systems, and broad-based excellence in education of optical fiber telecommunications.

Alexander (Sandy) Sawchuk, Chair of the Ming Hsieh EE-Systems Department, said: "the presentation of the Forman Award to Alan is a very important recognition of his many achievements in fiber-optic communications. Our department is proud that he is a member of our faculty."

Willner is the first holder Steven and Kathryn Sample Chaired Professor of Engineering in the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering of the Viterbi School of Engineering, announced at the 2010 Viterbi School Awards Banquet.

He is a Member of the Defense Science Research Council (a 16-member body that reports to the DARPA Director and Office Directors), has served on many scientific advisory boards for small companies, and has advised several venture capital firms. He was Founder and CTO of Phaethon Communications, a company acquired by Teraxion, that created the ClearSpectrum®dispersion compensator product line which is presently deployed in many commercial 40-Gbit/s systems worldwide.

He  has received many honors and awards including: International Fellow of the U.K. Royal Academy of Engineering; Presidential White House Faculty Fellow Award; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation Fellowship in Science and Engineering; National Science Foundation National Young Investigator Award; Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) Lasers and Electro-Optics Society (LEOS) Distinguished Lecturer Award; IEEE LEOS Distinguished Service Award; USC Associates Award for University-Wide Excellence in Teaching, OSA Leadership Award / New Focus Prize; and the USC/Northrop Outstanding Junior Engineering Faculty Research Award.

He has participated in numerous professional activities, including: President of the IEEE Photonics Society (formerly LEOS), Co-Chair of the Science and Engineering Council of the OSA, Vice-President for Technical Affairs of IEEE LEOS, Photonics Division Chair of OSA, General and Program Co-Chair of the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO), and service as meeting and program chair for many conferences.

He has also edited numerous publications, including service as editor-in-chief of IEEE/OSA Journal of Lightwave Technology (JLT), OSA Optics Letters, and IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics, and associate editor of the IEEE Journal of Selected Areas in Communications Series on Optical Networks (now IEEE/OSA JOCN)

Willner has 875 publications in the field of optical communications, signal processing and networks, including one book, 25 U.S. patents, 17 keynotes/plenaries, 16 book chapters, 245 refereed journal papers, 175 invited papers/presentations, and 350 refereed conference proceedings.

He received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University. He was a postdoctoral member of the Technical Staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories (Crawford Hill) and a member of Technical Staff at Bellcore.

OSA is the leading worldwide professional society in the field of optics and photonics. Its activities increase and diffuse the knowledge of optics, pure and applied; promotes the common interests of investigators of optical problems, of designers and of users of optical apparatus of all kinds; and encourages cooperation among them.