Three Professors a Year Later

    Date Posted: 
    Monday, April 19, 2021

    Ronald Driggers

    “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”.  Dr. Seuss

    What are your research goals in the first years of your work? 

    It was to develop a capability that corresponded to well-funded external research as well as provided students tools to investigate aspects of infrared systems that are of high interest today. One example is to study the targeting range performance of VIS, NIR, SWIR, and eSWIR under many atmospheric conditions and including degraded visual environments. We are also investigating the issues with moving from head tracked pilotage systems to strap-down which provides flexibility in hard operating conditions and aspects such as wire visibility. We have developed programs funded by industry and the defense department on High Energy Laser targeting, Infrared Search and Track, and drone sensors (for intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance (ISR) and targeting).

    What are your research goals today?

    To continue developing a well-funded research program as well as train graduate students how to perform independent research comprised of theory, lab testing, and field testing of infrared and military imaging systems. It may sound like a cliché’, but bringing in funding, publishing papers, and graduating students. As you get older, these activities get to be easier. I’ve written seven books, been editor-in-chief of both Optical Engineering and Applied Optics, and was a Senior Executive Service (SES) member in the government, so my goals for the future are a little more modest. I am now focused more on making a difference in students lives and preparing them to do big things.

    Have you had the opportunity to work with OSC graduate students and/or undergraduates yet? Do you plan to work with more students in the future?

    I currently have 3 OSC graduate students, one Electrical Engineering graduate student, and one undergraduate. They are all performing research that they find interesting and it is a joy to see them growing in both knowledge and accomplishments.

    What have you enjoyed about your first year at OSC?

    The COVID situation provided for a harder integration than I expected. There are many famous people in OSC that I had planned on spending a good amount of time with and that ended up being limited. However, the College is fantastic, the campus is beautiful, I like my office and my lab, and the graduate students are brilliant. Also, I do quite a bit of outdoor measurements and Tucson is a great place to work outside.


    Caption: Dr. Driggers hiking Tumomac Hill with friends Rebecca, Rachel, and Dr. Brady (L to R).

    What first brought you to optics?

    I’ve been an infrared expert now for around 35 years, so I am so old I don’t recall what brought me into the field other than my advisor. However, I will tell you I still enjoy it immensely and I cannot imagine wanting to do anything else.

    Name three neat facts about you and your interests.

    1. I have triplets (who are now 21 years old).
    2. I enjoy motorcycle trips and have ridden all the way across the US (and Europe).
    3. I love music and I “try” to play guitar a few times a week.

     

    Brandon Chalifoux

    What are your research goals in the first years of your work?

    My lab aims to develop new approaches to build and test ultra-lightweight freeform optical systems for applications like space telescopes and wearable optics, where mass and surface accuracy are both important. In the first years, we are focusing on creating new tools and processes to form, align, and measure optical substrates that have extremely high aspect ratio (>>50:1). X-ray telescopes have an especially acute need for technological advancement in these areas, driven by the large quantity of mirror area that must be packed into these space telescopes.

    What are your research goals today?

    We are developing a new method of measuring thin X-ray mirrors with nanometer-accuracy, which will be critical for future high-resolution observatories. We are also creating a rapid figuring process that uses an ultrafast fiber laser to generate stress and bend glass substrates to freeform shapes. We have found that this process can often be applied even after optical coatings are deposited, opening exciting new opportunities for accurate freeform figuring of thin substrates.

    Have you had the opportunity to work with OSC graduate students and/or undergraduates yet? Do you plan to work with more students in the future?

    I have had the pleasure to work with two OSC graduate students in my lab so far, and many more in my Optomechanical Engineering class this spring. I have been very impressed with the students' eagerness to learn new skills and ask great questions. I look forward to working with more graduate and undergraduate students in the future.

    What have you enjoyed about your first year at OSC?

    Starting this new phase of my career during a pandemic was of course odd, but many staff, students, and faculty were willing to endure numerous Zoom meetings with me to help me learn my way around. I have really appreciated everybody's welcoming and helpful attitude!


    Caption: Brandon and spouse, Helen, "winter" hiking in Saguaro West.

    What first brought you to optics?

    Originally, concentrated solar energy. I enjoyed the precision engineering required to make opto-mechanical systems work properly.

    What do you like to do outside of Optical Sciences?

    Outside of optics, my wife and I have greatly enjoyed the rock climbing, hiking, and mountain biking in Tucson. No other place offers year-round climbing combined with an ideal academic environment - we're truly fortunate to be here!

     

    David Brady

    “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.”  Ansel Adams

    What were your research goals in the first years of your work?

    When I was in my Ph.D. my work focused on optical implementation of artificial neural networks. Gradually my interest shifted from optical computing to a focus on how optical information is processed in imaging systems. For the past 25 years I have focused on computational imaging. This interest has merged again with neural networks as ideas from biological imaging systems have increasingly entered into camera design. 

    What are your research goals today?

    My research focuses on "super cameras," by which I mean cameras with pixel count, resolution, depth of field, dynamic range, color and polarization sensitivity at least an order of magnitude beyond current practice. This means gigapixel cameras operating at 1000 frames per second with infinite depth of field, 32 bit dynamic range, extreme low light sensitivity and vivid colors. 

    Have you had the opportunity to work with OSC graduate students and/or undergraduates yet? Do you plan to work with more students in the future?

    Just a little bit, very focused on working with more and more students in the future, particularly in the new classes in computational imaging and AI-based cameras that I am developing. 

    What have you enjoyed about your first year at OSC?

    OSC is the center of the optics universe, the level of technical discourse with colleagues and students here is unparalleled. 


    Caption: Dr. Brady last December in Abu Dhabi with one of his 360* cameras.

    What first brought you to optics?

    I love waves.

    What do you like to do outside of Optical Sciences?

    I enjoy running, hiking, sailing, and especially photography.