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Lehigh Researcher Earns Top Professional Honor; Dr. Thomas Koch Elected to National Academy of Engineering for Optics Research.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Lehigh University announces that Dr. Thomas Koch, who is internationally renowned for his research into optoelectronics and for helping build Lehigh's Center for Optical Technologies into one of the premier research institutions in its field, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

Election to the NAE -- one of the highest professional accolades conferred upon engineers -- honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice or education, and have pioneered new fields of technology.

Koch, whose election to the Academy brings Lehigh's total active NAE faculty membership to nine, was cited "for contributions to optoelectronic technologies and their implementation in optical communications systems." He is widely known for exploring the fundamental performance limits of lasers used for telecommunications, and for the design and demonstration of semiconductor photonic integrated circuits.

Koch was appointed as the Daniel E. '39 and Patricia Smith Chair and director of Lehigh's Center for Optical Technologies (COT) in 2003, and is a professor in two Lehigh departments -- Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Physics.

The NAE, a private, independent, nonprofit institution, marshals the preeminent minds in engineering to advise the U.S. Federal Government on engineering and technology issues, and to promote the technological welfare of society. Its 2,200-plus peer-elected members and foreign associates are among the world's most accomplished engineers, providing the leadership and expertise for numerous projects focused on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life.

"We are delighted that Tom has been elected to the NAE," said S. David Wu, Dean and Iacocca Professor, P.C. Rossin College of Engineering & Applied Science, Lehigh. "Recognition of this magnitude certainly amplifies the continuous progress achieved by Lehigh's optics program. Tom has made tremendous contributions to the advancement of optoelectronic engineering throughout his career, and we are fortunate to have a researcher of his caliber directing our efforts in this area. Tom is also an outstanding educator and his work has certainly impacted students and colleagues well beyond his immediate research group. Simply put, we are honored to have Tom as a colleague."

Decades of Optical Engineering Leadership

After earning his bachelor's degree in physics from Princeton in 1977 and his doctorate in applied physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1982, Koch joined the research organization of Bell Labs, where he conducted basic research on lasers and photonic integration technology for optical fiber communications.

In 1995-96, Koch was vice president of research and development at SDL Inc., where he managed a broad portfolio of semiconductor laser research. Later, as vice president for technology platforms at Agere Systems, Koch was responsible for research and development of the underlying technologies required to support the company's optoelectronic and IC product portfolio.

In the international scientific community, Koch is recognized as a Fellow of Bell Labs, of the Optical Society of America (OSA), and of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He has served on numerous conference, technical and governance committees for the OSA and the IEEE, and has chaired several major conferences, including the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition (OFC), the IEEE LEOS Annual Meeting, and the IEEE International Semiconductor Laser Conference.

Koch has also received the Distinguished Lecturer Award and the William Streifer Award for Scientific Achievement from the IEEE LEOS. He holds 35 patents and has authored more than 130 journal publications, 150 conference presentations, and several book chapters. He recently co-edited the book Optical Fiber Telecommunications III with Ivan. P. Kaminow.

Lehigh: Optics Momentum Continues to Build

The announcement of Koch's election to the NAE follows closely on the heels of the October 2005 opening of Lehigh's Smith Family Laboratory for Optical Technologies, a state-of-the-art facility designed to contribute to the global pursuit of optics innovation across a broad set of applications and technologies.

The four-story Smith Family Lab provides researchers with the ability to make and analyze new classes of optical materials, and to model, design, test and fabricate new optical devices - all in one building. Furthermore, the lab will enable researchers from various fields to apply their combined talents to a host of issues, including the use of novel photonic integration techniques for eventual biomedical, military, pharmaceutical, and communication application.

Lehigh's Center for Optical Technologies (, which has jointly received $63 million in funding since opening in 2001, is a partnership that includes Lehigh, Penn State University, Lehigh Carbon Community College, Northampton Community College, the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and some two dozen firms in the optics and technology industries.

About Lehigh

For 141 years, Lehigh University ( has combined outstanding academic and learning opportunities with leadership in fostering innovative research. The institution is among the nation's most selective, highly ranked private research universities. Lehigh's four colleges - College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business and Economics, College of Education and the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science - provide opportunities to 6,500 students to discover and grow in a learning community that promotes interdisciplinary programs with real-world experience. Lehigh's campus is located in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley - in Bethlehem, PA (50 miles north of Philadelphia and 75 miles southwest of New York City).
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Feb 16, 2006
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