Nicolaas Bloembergen Graduate Student Scholarship in Optical Sciences

Born in the Netherlands in 1920, Nicolaas Bloembergen earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Utrecht. After World War II, he studied at Harvard University, where he was the first graduate student of Edward M. Purcell, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1952.

Bloembergen obtained his Ph.D. degree from the University of Leiden in 1948. His thesis, "Nuclear Magnetic Relaxation," was republished several times.

Bloembergen introduced the three-level maser, a forerunner of the laser, in 1956. In 1964, he wrote the first book in the subfield of nonlinear optics. Bloembergen performed research in collaboration with over 100 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. He received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1981 for work with far-ranging applications in communications, medicine and security.

John and Elizabeth Armstrong

John A. and Elizabeth S. Armstrong (top) and Nicolaas and Huberta D. Bloembergen (bottom).

Bloembergen joined the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences faculty in 2001 and continues to encourage and inspire generations of optical scientists to transform the world with their ingenuity. In 2010, the college celebrated his 90th birthday with a symposium featuring 18 pioneers of laser science and four Nobel laureates. 

The Nicolaas Bloembergen Graduate Student Scholarship was established in 2006 by John A. and Elizabeth S. Armstrong in honor of Bloembergen and his revolutionary research. The scholarship was further strengthened with a generous donation made by Nicolaas and Huberta D. Bloembergen in 2015.


The Bloembergen Scholarship is open to talented students worldwide, and selection will be based on academic excellence. Ideally, candidates will hold a bachelor's degree in the physical or biological sciences, optics, engineering, mathematics, computer science or related fields and have a 3.7 or better GPA on a 4.0 scale. 

This FoTO (Friends of Tucson Optics) scholarship is to be awarded to a first-year graduate student. 

FoTO Scholarship
2021-2021: Prajit Dhara
2020-2021: William Roberts
2019-2020: Zhihao Zhu
2018-2019: Chaohan Cui
2017-2018: Yi Xia
2016-2017: Julie Gillis
2015-2016: Joseph Lowney
2014-2015: Zhaozhao Zhu
2013-2014: Jeffrey Davis