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ICO Newsletter

July 2007 Number 72


Arthur Guenther leaves a brilliant legacy

In memory of Art Guenther: The unique contribution of a key figure in ICO

The ICO Bureau meeting held in Joensuu, Finland, in July 2003. Arthur Guenther is on the far right. (Pierre Chavel photo.)

Arthur H. Guenther (1931-2007)

Ari T. Friberg, ICO President, and Arthur H. Guenther at the ETOP meeting held in Marseille, France, October 2004

From left to right: María L. Calvo, Arthur Guenther and René Dändliker at the ICO-19 General Congress and Assembly, August 2002, Florence, Italy.

It is always a sad and hard task to write an obituary. It is even harder when the obituary refers to a friend and colleague who was a key person working for ICO during the past decade.

Arthur H. Guenther, Art to all his friends and colleagues, died on April 21 at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Arthur Guenther was a research professor at the University of New Mexico (UNM), Centre for High Technology Materials (USA).

He arrived to UNM after a career as chief scientist with the U.S. Air Force, chief scientist for advanced defence technology at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and science advisor for laboratory development and manager of alliances with Sandia National Laboratories. While at UNM, he helped the creation of the New Mexico Optics Industry Association in 1998. He also promoted optics education programs constructing a career ladder for optical technicians and theorists at West Mesa High School, Central New Mexico Community College and UNM.

Remembering Art is the compendium of many aspects of his activities and his multi-faceted personality. He was brilliant, very talented and very much involved in the development and expansion of optics and photonics.

Art was always developing very positive attitudes to offer the kind of activities that do have a sense to the optics community and benefited many of us. His wide spectrum of activities was focused both in developing centres and institutions. Moreover it represented a very general and generous offer to many colleagues from all over the world.

I had the great chance to work with Art during his various periods as member of ICO Bureau. Indeed Art was elected ICO Vice-President for the term 1996-1999, then ICO President during the period 1999-2002 and later ICO Past-President 2002-2005.

Art was very much interested in expanding activities for education and training of young researchers, professionals and photonics technicians by coordinating many training programs. He was deeply involved in Education and Training in Optics and Photonics (ETOP) series of meetings, an international forum in collaboration with OSA, SPIE and very recently IEEE/LEOS. He was strongly working for the development of African centres and for the involvement of the LAM network. He was one of the organizers of the first ICO Topical meeting in Senegal in 2000.

It is difficult not to be impressed by the high coherence in Art's points of view regarding the development of science as a unique chance to improve local education programs and technological projects. As an example, he was one of the artificers of the book "Harnessing Light", as well as many other texts as the volume V of the "International Trends in Applied Optics". As another example, he pushed the free offer of educational texts to centres from developing countries.

In June 2006 Art Guenther was appointed as a member-at-large of the U.S. Advisory Committee for the International Commission for Optics, which represents the interests of the U.S. optics community internationally.

All this is certainly a very short review for such an enormous task and dedication. Art was the factor of the lemma: "ICO the place were the World of Optics meets", as it now appears as a welcome window in ICO website and is written in many languages. This is a lemma that could and should be assumed by many of us to keep in maintaining our common cooperation and activities for optics and photonics.

ICO expresses here its condolences to all optics community, SPIE, OSA, the USAC-ICO Committee and all the colleagues who are now mourning this sad absence.

Finally, we would like to express all our sympathies for his wife Joan, his great companion and all his family.

María L Calvo, ICO Secretary.


Arthur Guenther: another tribute to a champion of optics

Our friend Professor Arthur H. Guenther has left us, shortly after celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of his graduation with a PhD from Pennsylvania State University. He was not only a friend, he was a respected leader with a sense of vision devoted to serving the field of Optics at the frontier between science, technology and the economy. As the Secretary of ICO during Art's Presidency, 1999-2002, I wish to offer a testimony of his conviction that coordination of the Optics community worldwide has its role to play for the well being of our societies throughout this century - a teaching that we should not forget.

The Bureau meeting in San Francisco in 1999 as Prof. A H Guenther takes over the presidency from Prof. T Asakura.

A volunteer in Optics learned societies for many years, Art came to ICO through the US Advisory Committee for ICO, where he served for several years, and then was nominated for Vice-President in 1996. After his election in that capacity, he immediately joined the ICO Long Range Planning Committee - quite an appropriate choice given his gift and taste for global perspectives -, as well in fact as the ICO Standards Committee and the ICO Fellowship Committee. During that period, he also played a significant role in the organization of the ICO XVIII Congress, which was to be held in San Francisco in August 1999. Through his activity in the Bureau, it soon became obvious that he had the talent required to lead the Commission and was elected President during ICO XVIII.

During his term as President, he stressed the new initiatives that could bring together scientists from all countries where Optics activity exists in higher education, in research, or in business. The already strong links between ICO and the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics, ICTP, an international institution under the auspices of UNESCO located in Trieste, Italy, was instrumental for several initiatives. Art thus chaired the Advisory Committee for the first ICO major event in Africa, the "Topical Meeting on Optical Sciences and Applications for Sustainable Development" held at Université Cheick Anta Diop, Senegal, in April 2000 under the auspices of the African Laser, Atomic and Molecular Physics and Optics Network (LAM). He also contributed to the African Laser Network initiative, which was being discussed at that time, and he took part in the LAM meeting organized by University of Tunis El Manar in Tunis in December 2002.

In general, he was supportive of Optics initiatives everywhere and was ready to spend his time and energy to help them grow, striving to join the efforts of all bodies that in one way or another contribute towards the common goal of a global development of Optics. In 2002, he wrote: "the ICO is looking towards Latin America, both Central and South America as fertile areas for assistance, which can take the form of traveling lecturers and Fellowships, or to further participate, e.g., in the ICTP optics programs in Trieste. The Latin American Initiative is being done in collaboration with the US Advisory Committee to the ICO as an initiative in their role as the US voice for ICO."

He had a global vision for the development of Optics and thought of ICO as one useful instrument to carry it further, in the long range, acting as a neutral platform where members of the Optics community and learned societies in all countries can meet at par. He gave ICO its vision statement: "ICO, the place where the Optics World meets".

It must be stressed that his vision about the 21st Century being "the Age of Light" and the role of Optics in international cooperation underlies many of its commitments also outside ICO. As part of his professional activity as a Chief Scientist in a laboratory at Air Force Kirtland Base in New Mexico and as a Professor at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, for over 35 years he played a prominent role in the "Laser-Induced Damage" symposium, also known as the Boulder Damage symposium. This made him acquainted with scientists in that domain from the whole world, including at the time the USSR where he had close friends. In 1996-1998, as a member of the "Committee on Optical Science and Engineering", he participated in the US National Research Council study "Harnessing Light" and later publicized its findings as a guest speaker at many events, starting with China in 1998. As a follow-up measure to that study, he participated in the "Coalition for Optics and Photonics" and supported the development of "Optics Clusters" in every suitable geographical area worldwide.

Of particular importance to him was the development of an Optics work force made of future technicians, engineers and scientists who would carry Optics research, development and products and services into the Age of Light. He was concerned that more should be done to provide the employment marked with a sufficient number of professionals of all levels so that the potential of Optics for Society could be turned into reality. He strived to have Optics recognized by accreditation bodies in the US, supported the Education and Training in Optics and Photonics (ETOP) initiative, and participated in local and US national measures for developing training programs and education materials. He was likewise concerned with the issue of bringing optics literacy to the general public and in particular to all schools.

These objectives for a lifetime commitment to Optics were only possible through hard work and dedication and through a combination of scientific and technical skills with managerial and leadership qualities and with an ability to discuss in political circles. Indeed, he served as Chief Scientific Adviser to two Governors of the State of New Mexico.

As was aptly said by Prof. Maria L. Calvo, Secretary of ICO, Art always had a positive attitude, including when it matters mostly, i.e. in dealing with difficulties or conflicting situations. That, also, is a distinctive quality of a genuine leader. We owe Art more than a few lines call convey. We shall remember him with gratitude and respect, and our attachment to him will remain.

Keeping in mind Art's counsels, let me conclude as he would most often conclude his letters, "for Optics".

Pierre Chavel, former ICO Secretary General (Terms 1990-2002)


Roger Lessard proved a tireless ambassador for optics

Roger A. Lessard (1944-2007)

We pay tribute the president of the ICO Canadian Territorial Committee.

Roger A. Lessard died on February 26, in Quebec City, Canada, after a battle with cancer.

Roger A. Lessard obtained a bachelor's degree in science from the Université of Moncton, Nouveau-Brunswick (Canada) and in physics from Université Laval. In 1973, he graduated with a D.Sc. in physics and optics from Université Laval where he spent most of his career as a researcher and professor.

Dr. Lessard was Director of the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Optics at Université Laval. A tireless builder, he founded in 1989 the Centre for Optics, Photonics and Lasers. He was also co-founder of Holospectra (which became Lasiris and now StockerYale) and Laser InSpeck (now InSpeck). He sat on the Board of Directors of Gentec Electro-Optics and the Société du Centre des Congrès de Québec. He was a member of the scientific committee of Molex, a company located in Chicago and acted as a consultant to numerous start-up and established businesses in the province of Quebec and in the rest of Canada. He was an active member of scientific organizations such as SPIE-The International Society for Optical Engineering, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the Optical Society of America (OSA) and of the International Commission for Optics (ICO) in which he was the President of the Canadian Territorial Committee for the last five years.

Roger Lessard was involved in many international activities toward the enhancing of programs in optics and photonics and in particular in developing countries. In 2000 he was participating as a lecturer at the ICO Topical Meeting on Optical Science and Applications for Sustainable Development, held in Dakar, Senegal, in 2000.

Dr. Lessard was a fellow of SPIE-The International Society for Optical Engineering, of the Optical Society of India and of the Optical Society of America (OSA). He was a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). He was named Ambassador of the Year for Quebec City in 1996 having organized several international scientific conferences. In 1998, the Quebec Tourism Board also named him Ambassador of the Year. He received an honorary doctoral degree from the Université Blaise-Pascal in France for his contributions to holography and to the development of optical materials. The Quebec Association for Industrial Research gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the field of optics in the greater Quebec region. In May 2002, he was named Knights of the National Order of Quebec for his dedication to the development of optics in Quebec and internationally.

Among his activities, Lessard was interim Editor of the SPIE Optical Engineering journal in 2000. Lessard served a one-year term while Editor Donald C. O'Shea served as SPIE President that year. He served as a member of the Editorial Board of Optical Engineering for several years, with his areas of expertise in photophysics, spectroscopy, and optical data storage. He was also a member of the SPIE Board of Directors from 1998 through 2000.

A special session: "A Tribute to Roger Lessard and Art Guenther" was organized at the last ETOP meeting, held in Ottawa, June 2007. The session addressed the many contributions of both important figures and gave the opportunity to all the attendees to honor them and their work in the optics community. Some details will appear at the ETOP 2007 report, ICO Newsletter, October 2007 issue. Moreover, another special session will be devoted to honor Art Guenther and Roger Lessard at the forthcoming ICO Topical Meeting to be held in Cape Coast, Ghana, November 2007.

Henri H. Arsenault, former ICO Vice-President (Terms 1999-2002)


G8-UNESCO forum argues for reform across the globe

The conference room during the speech of U Cazalari, rector of the University of Bologna.

The opening session of the G8-UNESCO forum Education, Research and Innovation, held in Trieste on 10-12 May 2007. From left to right: K Matsuura, director of UNESCO, R Prodi, Italian prime minister, U Calzalari, rector of the University of Bologna, P Supachai, secretary general of UNCTAD and K R Sreenivasan, director of ICTP.

ICTP forum focuses on education, research and innovation.

The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) hosted the G8- UNESCO forum in Trieste on 10-12 May 2007. The main focus of the event was Education, Research and Innovation: New Partnership for Sustainable Development. It was attended by 600 experts in science, policy and industry scope from 60 countries. Among them were two winners of the Nobel Prize for Physics (M Perl and C Rubbia), three Italian ministers (G Fioroni, minister of education; F Mussi, minister of the university and research; L Nicolais, minister for reform and innovation) and six African ministers of education from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda.

The opening ceremony was chaired by Prof. K R Sreenivasan, ICTP director, and was honoured by the attendance of Romano Prodi, prime minister and president of the Council of Ministers of Italy, and Koïchiro Matsuura, director general of UNESCO.

In his introduction Prodi urged Matsuura to begin a process directly aimed at materializing strategic programmes for education in those parts of the world where huge difficulties are giving rise to a great challenge for development.

Five key topics

The origins of the forum lie in the 2006 G8 summit in St Petersburg, and the event was focused on three aspects: education, scientific research and technological innovation.

During the three-day meeting, 10 sessions took place dedicated to various crucial issues: universities, research, institutions and industry; the development of partnerships in global innovation and society; education in the knowledgebased society; global environmental challenges; and sustainable development and health, energy and knowledge. In particular, in the session dedicated to universities, research institutions and industry, there was general agreement that universities are still applying an old-fashioned model (a rather medieval concept) to their internal organizations. Universities need to overcome obsolete systems and provide updated disciplines for modern training.

Universities now require large budgets for effi- cient functioning (as expressed by U Calzalari, rector of the University of Bologna). The results obtained from fundamental research have to be freely disseminated for universal knowledge (as proposed by D V Livanov, rector of the State Technological University of Moscow). Also, Z Xinsheng of the UNESCO executive board of directors noted the importance of the impact of China on science and technology in the coming years. As with India, indicators predict a high rate of growth in the young population.

Regarding the current educational status in Africa, a special session devoted to science, technology and innovation in African regions was organized, with particular emphasis on the sub-Saharan situation. One conclusion was the forthcoming launch of a network of centres of excellence for sustainable development. This was a clear decision reached following the intervention of various African ministers of science and technology, stating that the current conditions for the development of new programmes in science at universities in many African countries are quite unfavourable.

Two ICO representatives attended the forum (M L Calvo, secretary and G von Bally, associate secretary). ICO is ready to enhance its ties with ICTP initiatives supporting activities in optics and photonics, identifying urgent programmes to be developed in pertinent geographical areas and key subjects. These emerging actions should form part of a bridge between the many areas of modern society in which education may lead the progress of humanity.

More information can be found at

María L Calvo, ICO Secretary.


International Commission for Optics

Bureau members (2005-2008):

President: A T Friberg;

Past-President: R. Dändliker; Treasurer: A Sawchuk;

Secretary: M.L. Calvo, Departamento de Optica, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Facultad de Ciencias Fisicas, Ciudad Universitaria, E 28040 Madrid, Spain, phone +34 91 394 4684, fax +34 91 394 4683, e-mail

Associate Secretary: G von Bally

Vice-Presidents, elected: S N Bagayev, A M Guzmán, G F Jin, B Y Kim, M Kujawinska, H Lefèvre, J Love, I Yamaguchi

Vice-Presidents, appointed: J. Braat, M. Gu, I.C. Khoo, G. Sincerbox, H.P. Stahl, A. Wagué

Senior Adviser (ad personam): P. Chavel.

IUPAP Council Representative: Y. Petroff