Logo: University of Southern California

Optical Society Elects USC Viterbi’s Alan Willner as 2014 Vice President

Willner to serve as president during OSA's 100th Anniversary in 2016
BY: Megan Hazle
October 17, 2013 —
 Alan E. Willner, USC Viterbi electrical engineering professor

On October 8, the Optical Society (OSA) announced that its members had elected Alan E. Willner of the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering as their 2014 vice president.

“The OSA makes an international impact, is filled with outstanding scientists and engineers and has a truly wonderful staff. It will be a distinct privilege and pleasure to help serve the optics and photonics community in this capacity,” said Willner, electrical engineering professor at USC Viterbi.

By accepting the vice presidency, Willner makes a four-year commitment to OSA's board of directors. He will serve one year as vice president, followed by one year as president-elect in 2015. Willner will serve a one-year term as president during OSA’s 100-year anniversary in 2016, followed by one year as past president in 2017.

“Alan’s approach to service in the optics and photonics community is one of inclusiveness and cooperation with a capacity to find consensus on the most critical of issues,” said OSA CEO Elizabeth Rogan. “The year of his presidency will be a momentous one as we celebrate OSA’s centennial anniversary. OSA is honored that Alan is willing to invest his time in this role and appreciate the leadership he will bring to the community.”

Willner joined USC Viterbi in 1992 and is the Steven and Kathryn Sample Chair Professor of Engineering in the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering. His research in high-speed optical communication systems is focused on optical multi-channel multiplexing techniques such as orbital-angular-momentum modes and optical signal processing of data signals using nonlinear elements.

Willner has been an active OSA member, including having served on the Board of Directors from 2002-2003 and co-chairing the Science & Engineering Council. He has received many awards and honors, including the OSA Paul Forman Engineering Excellence Award and Robert Hopkins Leadership Award; IEEE Eric E. Sumner Award; IEEE Photonics Society Engineering Achievement Award and Distinguished Lecturer Award; International Fellow of the U.K. Royal Academy of Engineering; Presidential Faculty Fellows Award from the White House; Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship; Packard Foundation Fellowship; Fulbright Foundation Senior Scholar Fellowship; SPIE President's Award; Honorary Doctorate from Yeshiva University; and both USC Associates’ Awards for Research and for Teaching. Willner has also served as president of the IEEE Photonics Society, Co-Chair of the U.S. National Academies Study on Optics & Photonics and editor-in-chief of three international optics journals (e.g., OSA’s Optics Letters and IEEE/OSA Journal of Lightwave Technology). Willner has more than 1,000 publications, including 24 U.S. patents.

Three directors at large were also chosen during this year's OSA election: Anne Tropper of the University of Southampton, UK; Adam Wax of Duke University; and Xi-Cheng Zhang of the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester. Along with Willner, the new directors will begin their terms on January 1, 2014. They will hold their positions for three years.

"OSA is pleased to welcome Anne, Adam, and Xi-Cheng to the Board," said Rogan. "These three talented members will bring a distinct range of educational, technical and corporate business experiences and skills to OSA leadership."