Distinctive Scholarship Offered to the University of Arizona

Sept. 13, 2013

DeMund Foundation Commits to Advancing Optical and Medical Sciences

TUCSON, Ariz. — When he retired in the early 1990s, Chuck DeMund had already made an undeniable impact on the field of optical sciences and photonics. With images captured from outer space to the depths of the ocean, Chuck's 36-year career with the giant defense contractor, General Dynamics, cemented his reputation for making valued contributions to public education in different and historic ways.

Today, Chuck is president of the DeMund Foundation, which was created in 1947 by his father, the late Herman E. DeMund, in the family’s hometown of Phoenix, Ariz. The foundation, now operating in Waxhaw, N.C., has been providing financial assistance for decades at several universities throughout the country through scholarships and grants. The University of Arizona is among its many long-time beneficiaries.

This year, the foundation's support to the University took on a new focus by narrowing on two of Chuck's personal passions: his father's admiration for medicine and his own accomplishments in optics. Consequently, the DeMund Foundation Graduate Student Scholarship in Optical and Medical Sciences was established, giving the UA College of Optical Sciences the privilege of making its first award in the fall 2013 semester.

"Optical sciences have intensified its impact in medicine with fast-paced breakthroughs and complex technologies. Our students must adapt and grow with each innovation to keep pace with the field," said Thomas L. Koch, dean, College of Optical Sciences. "We are therefore grateful to the DeMund Foundation for funding this scholarship. With this support, our student recipients will have ample financial support while learning how optics and photonics contribute to the advancement of medical diagnoses, treatments and cures."

Koch also announced Victoria Chan from Milton, Mass., as the first recipient of the DeMund Scholarship.

Victoria, a fourth-year doctoral student in optical sciences with an emphasis in biomedical imaging, is designing and building a novel endoscope that may provide rapid detection of esophageal diseases. Currently, patients must undergo several biopsies to receive an accurate diagnosis, and these procedures are invasive, costly and time-consuming. Victoria, however, envisions that her hand-held endoscope will help provide a diagnosis with just a single snapshot of the esophagus. The ultimate goal is to obtain results in real time while minimizing risk and cost.

The Optical Detection Laboratory, where some of Victoria's work is conducted, is one of several labs at the College of Optical Sciences that specializes in imaging devices. The primary focus of its research is the detection of light, not necessarily in the visible spectrum, and the conversion of detected light into electrical signals. Hyperspectral imaging systems for remote sensing and endoscopy developed at the college in recent
years have introduced new methods in spectroscopy and polarimetry and created designs for homeland security applications.

"Sponsoring a scholarship at the College of Optical Sciences is an fantastic investment in the future generations of optical scientists who will refine our understanding of optical phenomena," said Koch.

"With the DeMund Foundation's recent commitment to funding this scholarship indefinitely, students like Victoria will have greater opportunities to work on unique and high-impact research that will continue to bring the optical and medical sciences together. These scholars will be developing exciting technologies that will change all of our lives," Koch concluded.

About the University of Arizona James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences: 

The University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences, founded as the Optical Sciences Center, has been shaping the future since 1964 by offering high-quality instruction, cutting-edge research and a solid commitment to the development of the optics industry. OSC remains dedicated to providing the state of Arizona and the nation with an internationally pre-eminent program in all aspects of the study of light. For more information, please visit www.optics.arizona.edu or call 520-621-6997.


Kaye Rowan