University of Arizona to Honor John Greivenkamp, PhD, as 2023 Alumnus of the Year at the Wyant College of Optical Sciences

Nov. 17, 2022
John Greivenkamp Headshot


The University of Arizona (UA) Alumni Association has announced Dr. John Greivenkamp as the 2023 Alumnus of the Year for the Wyant College of Optical Sciences. The Alumni of the Year ceremony will take place February 3, 2023 at the University.

“For three decades, John Greivenkamp, Emeritus Professor of Optical Sciences, was an exceptionally committed member of Wyant College of Optical Sciences’ faculty and an extraordinary leader, championing the education of our students, the welfare of the college, community outreach, and the future of our profession and professional community,” said Thomas L. Koch, Ph.D., dean of the Wyant College of Optical Sciences.

Dedication to Education & Research

After receiving his BS in physics and mathematics in 1976 from Thomas More College, John began as a graduate student of the Optical Sciences Center (now, Wyant College). In 1979, he received his MS in optical sciences then in 1980 his PhD. After his graduation, John spent eleven years working in the physics division of the Eastman Kodak Research Labs. Then, in 1991, John returned to the Wyant College as an Associate Professor of both Optical Sciences and Opthalmology, soon becoming a full professor in 1997. His teaching included a rigorous geometrical optics course that became one of the cornerstones of the college’s curriculum.

By the end of his career as a professor, John had supervised 41 MS and 20 PhD students who were all deeply involved in his research in sub-Nyquist interferometry, conformal optics, ophthalmic optics and contact lens metrology. John had 170 publications and presentations with over 4,500 citations, an involved partnership with industry and over 20 patents. He also published “Field Guide to Geometrical Optics” with SPIE, which became a popular guidebook that many students and optical scientists feel is an essential resource.

Professional Involvement

John was highly respected by his peers, including being elected as Fellow of both Optica (formerly OSA) and SPIE, and receiving the prestigious Maria J. Yzuel SPIE Educator Award in 2017. In addition to extensive board and committee leadership roles for both Optica and SPIE, in 2020 John was elected to lead SPIE by the society’s 19,000-member peer community.


In 2012, the John E. Greivenkamp Endowed Scholarship in Optical Sciences, supporting undergraduate students, was established at OSC by David Steed, a good friend of John’s who shared his enthusiasm for education and antique optics. John and his wife, Kay, were also contributors to this scholarship.

Shortly after his retirement and after valiantly prevailing in his battle with cancer for many years, Dr. John E. Greivenkamp passed away on January 29, 2022. His presence is missed by many, but his impact continues to be felt.

After his passing, many alumni, friends and family members expressed their appreciation for John’s commitment to teaching and support for students by contributing to the John E. Greivenkamp Scholarship, of which now holds a balance of nearly $70,000.

John E. Greivenkamp Museum of Optics

John was also deeply committed to outreach at the college, especially with his efforts to build the OSC Museum of Optics which houses hundreds of antique and historic telescopes, microscopes, lenses and cameras, representing work by the world's most respected instrument makers from the 18th century to the present. John would often use these antiques in his teaching, reinforcing the importance of reflecting on how far and fast the field of optics has progressed.

John began collecting unique and beautiful pieces of antique optics in 2003. In 2011, it was officially dedicated as the Museum of Optics and housed in the Meinel building. In 2022, after his passing, the museum was officially renamed and is now the John E. Greivenkamp Museum of Optics.

“John was an excellent teacher and mentor for our students - and was always willing to help the college in any way possible…Without question, John is very deserving of this recognition to be the 2023 UA Alumnus of the Year for Wyant College,” James C. Wyant, Emeritus Professor and Founding Dean for Wyant College, said.

“The Wyant College of Optical Sciences’ reputation is a testament to the brilliance and dedication of our students, alumni and faculty…John Greivenkamp exemplified these attributes as a professor and researcher in optical sciences,” said Koch.

“In addition, his work to instill an appreciation of how the historical foundation of optics leads to future innovations in optical instruments will continue to provide a lasting impact on the College, the University, and to the general public. John is most worthy of this recognition,” Koch added.


About the Wyant College of Optical Sciences:

The University of Arizona James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences (OSC) has been lighting the future since 1964 by providing an internationally pre-eminent program in all aspects of the study of light.  OSC offers a diverse student body, challenging courses, pioneering research programs with award-winning faculty, and close relationships with the optics industry. For more information, please visit


Kaye Rowan, Executive Director of Development