Bob Shannon began his career as a staff physicist and senior lens designer with Itek Corp. in Lexington, MA, a leading builder of early satellite reconnaissance systems. He was involved in the design of several of the optical systems to be used in space observation systems and later became director of Itek’s Advanced Technology Labs. His research focused on the use of computers for testing and optical design, metrication of large optical systems, design of synthetic-aperture optical systems, analysis and design of unobscured-aperture optical systems, and optical fabrication and test methods.
In 1969, Bob came to the University of Arizona as a professor at the Optical Sciences Center (OSC –and now Wyant College) where he taught optical design and advised 52 PhD and MS students. His research group was involved with many significant optical design projects including the conformal optics program and the optics for the MMT (Multiple Mirror Telescope).
Appointed as the OSC director in 1984, Bob, along with Jack Gaskill, Associate Director of Academic Affairs, created an undergraduate optics program that was offered for the first time in the fall of 1989. The program was designed for the graduating optical engineers to be immediately productive in areas of optical design, optical fabrication and testing, lasers, optical detectors, optical instrumentation and optical fiber communications. He retired in 1992 and remains as a Professor Emeritus of Optical Sciences.
A prolific leader in the optics community, Bob held terms as president of both SPIE and Optica. He served on the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board and Aerospace Corp.’s board of trustees, as well as a number of National Academy of Sciences committees. He was a participant in NASA’s Hubble Telescope Mirror Recovery Panel, a member of the Technical Advisory Group at the NRO, and a member of the US Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. His technical contributions have earned him numerous prestigious awards including SPIE’s Goddard Award and Gold Medal and membership in the National Academy of Engineering. He is a fellow of Optika and SPIE. He authored the book, The Art and Science of Optical Design.
Bob earned BS and MA degrees in optics from the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics, where he has also been awarded an Honorary Doctor of Engineering degree. Long-time friend and academic colleague, Jim Wyant, gifted the Robert R. Shannon Endowed Chair in Optical Sciences to the College. “To me, this endowed chair is a fitting tribute to Bob, who has been a wonderful mentor to me for more than 50 years- first at Itek and then at OSC.”
Robert R. Shannon Endowed Chair in Optical Sciences Chair Holder
2020 - current