Alfred University News

SPIE announces award recipients; Kathleen Richardson, trustee and alumna, honored

Kathleen Richardson ’82, ’88 M.S., ’92 Ph.D.
Kathleen Richardson ’82, ’88 M.S., ’92 Ph.D.

SPIE, the International Society for Optics and Photonics, recently announced its 2020 distinguished award recipients and Alfred University alumna and Board of Trustees member Kathleen Richardson ’82, ’88 M.S., ’92 Ph.D., was presented with the Maria J. Yzuel Educator Award.


SPIE, the International Society for Optics and Photonics, recently announced its 2020 distinguished award recipients and Alfred University alumna and Board of Trustees member Kathleen Richardson ’82, ’88 M.S., ’92 Ph.D., was presented with the Maria J. Yzuel Educator Award.

The award recognizes sustained outstanding contributions to global research, education and training in optical materials. Richardson is Pegasus Professor of Optics and Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Central Florida and a world-renowned leader in infrared glasses. Her achievements include quantifying composition- and form-specific effects on these glasses’ defects and optical properties, as well as collaborative efforts to transition such glasses into photonic structures. This work resulted in the creation of the first integrated optical waveguides and gratings based on chalcogenide glasses.

Richardson earned a B.S. in ceramic engineering from Alfred University in 1982 and went on to earn a master’s degree in glass science and a doctorate in ceramic engineering, both from Alfred University. She has been a member of the Alfred University Board of Trustees since 2006.

In a press release announcing her as recipient of the Maria J. Yzuel Educator Award, SPIE stated Richardson “has demonstrated long-term and sustained commitment to education and training, incorporating these efforts into her research activities.”

Highlights noted in the press release include creating an industry summer school at the Center for Optics Manufacturing with the American Precision Optics Manufacturers Association (APOMA); developing short courses for SPIE; co-leading the first National Science Foundation-sponsored International Research Experience for Undergraduates in Optics, Lasers, and Optical Materials; establishing dual Ph.D.-M.S. programs between the University of Central Florida, Clemson University, the University of Bordeaux, and Friedrich-Schiller University; establishing the Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation’s platform for student outreach and training programs; and co-organizing the inaugural North American Summer School on Photonic Materials at Laval University.

“It is important to note that education has been an integral part of Kathleen Richardson’s professional career from the beginning, starting with her own PhD time,” says Stefan Nolte, vice dean of the faculty of physics and astronomy and professor for experimental physics/laser physics at Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena, and deputy director at Fraunhofer Institute of Applied Optics and Precision Engineering. “Throughout her career she has demonstrated a passion for optics education and has been a leader and role model in that arena.”

Richardson is an SPIE Fellow who served on the Society's Board of Directors from 2013-15. She is also a Fellow in the American Ceramic Society (ACerS), the Society of Glass Technology, and the Optical Society of America. In 2009, she received the Outstanding Educator Award from ACerS.