Another Wavelength: Colton Bigler

Jan. 29, 2018
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This month in Another Wavelength, we chat with 4th year Ph.D. candidate, Colton Bigler.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in the Front Range of Colorado. It's a little different being in the desert; I miss the snow, but Tucson is definitely beautiful.

What brought you to study optics?

colton bigler

That's a fairly long chain of events, honestly. During high school, I regularly watched a show on CBS called Numb3rs. It followed a mathematical prodigy who used all sorts of different math to help his brother solve crimes. A bit cliched, but I really appreciated both the characters and the idea that the show presented. Using science and math to solve the world's problems was something I am really motivated for. So, I went to Colorado School of Mines for my undergrad, where I ended up as an Engineering Physics major because the introductory courses blew my mind and I wanted to continue with the field. At Mines we have a required course over the summer where each department shows their students what people working in the field will do with their degrees. During this summer course, we spent a week studying optics. I was super excited to see how light could be used in some very creative ways. As such, I decided to continue exploring this new field and ended up at the OSC. I'm very blessed to be here.

Who is your hero in science?

I don't have anyone that I would say is my "hero in science". There's a lot of cool things that have been discovered, and I deal with those more than the stories of the people who made the discoveries. I tend to be able to get pretty excited about any topic that I'm learning about. Penicilin, weird creation story, but so cool how it was such a serendipitous discovery. Maxwell's equations are crazy cool in how they can so accurately model the world around us. Archimedes in his bath water is a terribly fun story to throw around. I like the idea of people using their minds to help improve the world and, if I'm honest, I'm inclined to believe that it's small improvements that make the world a little bit better that I'm excited about. Someone finding a problem and being able to think their way to a solution; that's cool. Getting excited about the work that other people do is the least we can do to respect the time and effort they've invested.

Describe your research in 20 words or fewer.

I work with holograms to show you driving information without you needing to look at your dash to see it.

Describe your research in 200 words or fewer.

colton bigler research

Heads-Up Display (HUD) allows people to look through a clear screen to see some information on the screen as well as what is going on beyond the screen. In automobiles, this means that drivers can have turn or speed information displayed without needing to look down from the windshield to see what is being displayed on their car's dashboard. However, there are some difficulties with the way HUDs are currently created. I am researching the possibility of using holograms to overcome these difficulties. Specifically, I am researching the use of holograms to couple light into a waveguide and expand the hologram pupil.

Name three neat facts about you.

  1. I make my own ice cream and have a logo for my fictional ice cream company: The Bigler Creamery. I have made sorbets and regular ice cream, varying in how exotic they are from strawberry to a pumpkin pie ice cream
  2. I know a decent amount of German and am working to learn Japanese. I hope to continually learn more languages throughout my life.
  3. I'm heavily involved with the Graduate Christian Fellowship on campus. I have served on leadership for the past 2.5 years as a small group leader and currently as the president. My faith is really important to me, as are those who God has blessed me to meet during my time here at OSC.