Clemson's John Ballato named Fellow of international optical engineering society

CLEMSON — John Ballato, a Clemson University professor of materials science and engineering who founded the university's Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies (COMSET) a decade ago, has been named a Fellow of the international society for optics and photonics.

The International Society for Optical Engineering, or SPIE, awards the honor to scientists "who have made considerable technical and scientific contributions in optics, photonics, optoelectronics and imaging." Ballato was cited for achievements in novel optical materials and optical fibers.

Ballato, who holds 25 U.S. and foreign patents, has been principal investigator for sponsored programs, gifts and contracts valued at more than $35 million. His research ranges from optical fiber fabrication to photonic communication systems.

"This is a considerable mark of achievement, and it is one that is much deserved," said Igor Luzinov, interim director of Clemson's materials science and engineering department. "John is a highly productive researcher and well-regarded in the field. This is a great honor both for John and for Clemson."

As director of COMSET, Ballato oversees interdisciplinary research conducted by 25 faculty from five departments at Clemson. COMSET's focus is the science and engineering of light and the development of advanced materials, devices and systems that generate, transmit, manipulate and utilize light.

The science and engineering of light-based technologies is approaching becoming a trillion-dollar global market. Optical science and engineering is already the foundation for more than 100 companies in the Carolinas, and Ballato predicts that number will grow.

"Maintaining or regaining U.S. technological competitiveness demands innovation in fundamental science and in the training of a highly skilled work force for domestic manufacturing of high-value products," Ballato said. "COMSET offers concrete, historic evidence that scientific discovery — which is fundamental to innovation — provides an important impetus to economic growth."

With more than 180,000 members in 168 countries, SPIE is an international society for optics and photonics founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies.

Also a Fellow of the American Ceramics Society, Ballato joined the Clemson faculty in 1997 after receiving his doctorate in Ceramic and Materials Engineering from Rutgers University, where he also received his bachelor's degree in Ceramic Science and Engineering in 1993. He has more than 200 publications and 2,000 citations to his credit.

Ballato has served as associate vice president for research and economic development at Clemson and as interim vice president for research following the retirement of Chris Przirembel last year.

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