James Wyant

Professor Emeritus of Optical Sciences
Founding Dean of the College of Optical Sciences

Additional Affiliations

  • Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Companies Founded or Co-Founded

  • Wyant Measurement Systems, 1981
  • WYKO Corporation, 1982
  • 4D Technology, 2002


  • Founding Dean: The University of Arizona, College of Optical Sciences, 2005-2012
  • Director: The University of Arizona, Optical Sciences Center, 1999-2005
  • Professor: The University of Arizona, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, 1985-2013
  • President: WYKO Corporation, 1984-1997
  • Visiting Scientist: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (Australia), 1983
  • Professor: The University of Arizona, Optical Sciences Center/College of Optical Sciences, 1979-2013
  • Associate Professor: The University of Arizona, Optical Sciences Center, 1976-1979
  • Assistant Professor: The University of Arizona, Optical Sciences Center, 1974-1976
  • Manager, Optical Engineering Section: Itek Corporation, 1974
  • Optical Engineer: Itek Corporation, 1968-1974
  • Research Assistant: Libby-Owens-Ford Glass Co., Summers of 1964 and 1965

Professional Affiliations and Activities

  • Optica – formerly OSA – The Optical Society
    • President, 2010
    • Executive Committee, 1980–1981, 2008–2011
    • Board of Directors, 1979–1981, 2008–2011
    • Fellow, 1977–date
    • Member, 1966–date
    • Editor-in-Chief, Applied Optics, 2006–2008     
  • SPIE – International Society for Optics and Photonics         
    • President, 1986
    • Board of Directors, 1978–1987
    • Fellow, 1980–date
    • Member, 1972–date     
  • Optical Society of India
    • Lifetime Fellow, 2005–date
    • Distinguished Fellow, 2021–date
  • Optical Society of Korea
    • Honorary Member, 2010–date

Major Awards and Honors

  • Election to National Academy of Engineering, 2007
  • Election to National Academy of Inventors, 2015
  • Optica Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus W. Quinn Prize (Highest award given by Optica - formerly OSA), “For pioneering contributions in advancing the science and technology of quantitative interferometric metrology, his leadership as an educator and entrepreneur, and his visionary service to the global optics and photonics community,” 2022
  • SPIE Gold Medal (Highest award given by SPIE), "For significant contributions to the field of interferometry and optical testing," 2003
  • SPIE Visionary Award, “For his role as founding dean of the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona, for pioneering photonics at WYKO Corporation and 4D Technology, for deeply generous philanthropy to enable education in optics, and for thoughtful investment in the future of photonics,” 2019
  • SPIE Charles S. Vikram Award, “For pioneering contributions to the field of quantitative interferometric optical testing and for nurturing the invention of phase-measurement interferometer systems,” 2010
  • SPIE Technology Achievement Award (WYKO), "For development of software and instrumentation for optical quality metrology," 1988
  • OSA Joseph Fraunhofer Award, "For pioneering work in the development of optical testing technology," 1992
  • Member of the International Order of the Knights of Holography, 2013
  • Wolfram (Mathematica) Innovator Award, 2021
  • University of Rochester College of Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award, 1994
  • Case Alumni Association Gold Medal Award, 2014
  • Case Western Reserve University’s highest form of recognition, The University Medal, for exceptional leadership, dedication, and service to the university, to higher education and to society, 2020

Student Advisor History

  • Adviser of 34 graduated Ph.D. students
  • Adviser of 25 graduated MS students


  • Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, University of Arizona, 2023
  • Honorary Doctor of Engineering Degree, Case Western Reserve University, 2023
  • Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, University of Rochester, 2021
  • Doctorado Honoris Causa, Instituto Nacional de Astrofisica, Optica y Electronica, Puebla, Mexico, 2008
  • Ph.D., University of Rochester, 1968
  • M.S., University of Rochester, 1967
  • B.S., Case Institute of Technology, 1965

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