In Memoriam: H. Angus Macleod

    Date Posted: 
    Tuesday, May 11, 2021

    It is with great sadness that we report the passing of H. Angus Macleod, Emeritus Professor of Optical Sciences, on April 29, 2021 at the age of 87.  He is survived by his wife Ann, his daughter Eleanor, and his four sons Hugh, Ivor, Charles, and Alexander.

    Prof. Macleod will be remembered as an outstanding educator and prolific scientific researcher in the field of thin-film optics, and a mentor and friend to many.

    “Angus passing away is truly a great loss. All of his students learned so much from him, much more than just the science that he taught us,” noted Fred Van Milligen, Vice President of Research and Development at The Optical Security and Performance Products of Viavi Solutions, and OSC Ph.D. under Prof. Macleod in 1985.

    Prof. Macleod was famously known for his book on Thin-Film Optical Filters, and later formed the Thin Film Center, a company he established to advance the commercial adoption and implementation of thin-film design software.  Angus also mentored a whole generation of students who would become foundational contributors as the field exploded with interest and applications that span laser systems, spectroscopy, displays, wavelength-multiplexed optical communications, and more. At OSC he was the principal supervisor of 32 M.S. students, and a total of 29 Ph.D. students.

    “Angus was a wonderful person in so many ways. He was a great teacher and very dedicated to his students,” said Jim Wyant, Professor Emeritus and Founding Dean of the Wyant College of Optical Sciences. “After he retired from the university and was running his company, we asked him many times if he could teach his course again. Amazingly, he not only always agreed but he also refused to be paid for teaching it!”

    John Lehan of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who received his MS and then his Ph.D. in 1990 under the supervision of Angus, recalls that, “Prof. Macleod was a model for all his students. This went well beyond just the professional realm. He was a model teacher, jovial colleague, kind and forgiving mentor, witty conversationalist, dedicated husband and father, fierce friend, and generally a remarkably humble man of unimpeachable character in my experience. His passing leaves a very large hole in both the thin films and optics communities.”

    Angus has been widely recognized and honored for his contributions and impact, including the SPIE Gold Medal, the OSA Esther Hoffman Beller Medal, an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Aix-Marseille, the John Matteucci Award from the International Conference on Vacuum Web Coating, the Nathaniel H. Sugerman Memorial Award from the Society of Vacuum Coaters, and both A Life For Thin Film and the Senator Awards from the European Vacuum Coaters.

    “Aside from his many accomplishments, Angus was a quintessential gentleman, with a dry sense of humor,” recalls OSC alumnus Jack Jewell, reflecting on the Thin Film Optics course that Prof. Macleod taught each year. “Little did I know that thin film structures would be the core of my career, VCSELs, and that I would employ Angus's lessons in such a role … A rich and whole life. Angus lives in all those he touched.”

    In 2016 the college published a charming in-depth interview with Prof. Macleod by Tammy Orr as part of her Reflections series on the Wyant College of Optical Sciences website. Professor Macleod will be dearly missed by all.