UA to Honor Robert R. Boye Ph.D. as 2016 Alumnus of the Year in Optical Sciences

UA to Honor Robert R. Boye Ph.D. as 2016 Alumnus of the Year in Optical Sciences
The award is part of the University of Arizona’s Homecoming festivities this October
Thursday, September 1, 2016

Tucson, AZ, -  The University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences (OSC) has announced that Robert R. (Rob) Boye, Ph.D., manager of the Physics-Based Microsystems department at Sandia National Laboratories, has been selected as the 2016 Alumnus of the Year for the College. This coveted award will be presented at a special ceremony on October 28 as part of the University’s homecoming celebrations

"This award is to recognize Rob for his innumerous contributions to the field of optics both in research and in management," said Thomas L. Koch, Ph.D., dean of the College of Optical Sciences.

"He is also a true philanthropic leader in making opportunities possible for students in higher education. As a Boye Foundation trustee, Rob has led their interest in generously funding scholarships and teaching lab upgrades at the College for over a decade now," Dean Koch added.  

Holding both an M.S. (1995) and Ph.D. (2000) in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona (UA), Rob’s interest in optics technology actually ignited while earning his B.S. in Electrical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Fascinated by the hands-on exercises, he prepared a sophisticated senior project using an optical heterodyne receiver which captured his imagination and sparked an interest in the amazing potential of optics for sensors and communications.  

Landing a job at Westinghouse in Baltimore, Rob was able to further develop this interest by working on advanced electro-optic switches and acousto-optic modulators while also earning an M.S. in Electrical Engineering at John Hopkins University.

Rob’s interest in optics grew even more serious in 1993, when he applied for graduate studies at the UA. Here, he studied under Professor Raymond K. Kostuk, Ph.D. 

"Rob joined my research group during a time of transition. So, I had him work on a wide variety of projects," said Dr. Kostuk.  "His research resulted in a number of excellent journal and conference papers and he made significant contributions to the field of resonant mode optical devices."

"Rob was an excellent student. He is also an excellent scientist and engineer. Yet, most importantly, he is a wonderful person and ambassador for the University of Arizona and the College of Optical Sciences. I cannot think of a person more deserving of receiving this prestigious award than Rob," added Dr. Kostuk.

Industry Leadership

Presently, Rob supervises a department of nearly 20 scientists, engineers, technologists, and support staff, leveraging a diverse set of capabilities to provide science and technology products to enhance Sandia's national security missions.

As part of the Sandia’s Microsystems Engineering Sciences and Applications (MESA) facility in Albuquerque NM, Rob and his group work to advance the state-of-the-art in quantum sensing, generating remarkable and novel solutions harnessing the capabilities of light. These include atomic-physics based sensors; atom and ion trapping devices and systems; unique diffractive, sub-wavelength and micro-optical components and systems; critical electrochemical materials processes; and unprecedented micro-machined devices.  

"From the very first day in this role, Rob has applied his skills and knowledge to repeatedly provide significant technical impact across the broad mission space we support," said Clinton A. (Andy) Boye, Senior Manager for Advanced Microsystems at Sandia (no family relation).  

"Under Rob’s leadership, his group has set a vision for his organization that has contributed to remarkable advances in the field." said Andy Boye. "Rob has always been a patient mentor to those less versed in the optical sciences, and this quality has grown to where he guides some of the nation’s leading researchers in their fields." 

Authoring more than 30 publications in professional journals, "Rob has come to be regarded within Sandia and across the nation as a trusted resource for his expertise from micro to macro optics and optical systems." Andy Boye added.

Philanthropic Leadership

As a trustee for the Boye Foundation in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, Rob has been instrumental in securing the Foundation’s interest to generously support for the College of Optical Sciences. Since 2003, the Boye Foundation, founded by Rob’s late father William E. Boye, Jr., has contributed a sum of nearly $1 million to fund scholarships to over 150 students. These funds have also helped to advance the College’s academic programs with equipment purchases for its teaching laboratories. 

In 2014, the Boye Foundation also established a permanent scholarship endowment, The Boye Family Graduate Student Scholarship in Optical Sciences. This scholarship provides a first-year graduate student with a generous stipend of $20,000 and waived tuition. The Boye scholarship is part of the College’s FoTO (Friends of Tucson Optics) scholarship program.

"Optics has been the cornerstone of my career - and it’s hard to express in words how much I have benefited from this technology and the community that is the College of Optical Sciences," Rob explained.  

"One of the values my father taught me is that we should always endeavor to be active, contributing members of our communities, both personal and professional – to me, OSC is both," he added.

A former collegiate soccer player and avid fan, Rob met his wife Susan (M.S. Political Science, 1999) at a birthday party for a teammate from his Tucson men’s soccer team. While he no longer plays, Rob still loves the game so much that he took his family to Brazil to attend matches during the 2014 World Cup. This was the seventh time he has enjoyed watching a World Cup match from the stands.

Rob, Susan and their two sons make their home in Albuquerque, NM.    

"The College of Optical Sciences is globally known for its leading teaching and research programs," said Dean Koch. 

"While this reputation is a testament to the brilliance and dedication of our students and faculty, it is also our alumni who have been instrumental to this success. As an alumnus of the College, Rob truly exemplifies this commitment." 


About the University of Arizona James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences: 

The University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences, founded as the Optical Sciences Center, has been shaping the future since 1964 by offering high-quality instruction, cutting-edge research and a solid commitment to the development of the optics industry. OSC remains dedicated to providing the state of Arizona and the nation with an internationally pre-eminent program in all aspects of the study of light. For more information, please visit or call 520-621-6997.


Kaye Rowan
Sr. Director of Development