The Center for Freeform Optics
An Industry/University Cooperative Research Center

2018 Kevin P. Thompson Prize awarded to Xiaojing (Grayce) Huang

The 2018 Kevin P. Thompson Prize has been awarded to Xiaojing (Grayce) Huang, an undergraduate studying Optical Engineering at the University of Rochester (Class of 2019). This prize is awarded at most once per year to a deserving undergraduate student who demonstrates a keen interest in optical design and/or metrology.

Past awardees

2017 awardee – Brandon Dube, University of Rochester, Class of 2018

The Kevin P. Thompson Prize

This prize is named in honor of the late Kevin P. Thompson. Dr. Kevin Thompson (his professional name) was known for his academic work in aberration theory and leadership at Optical Research Associates, and later the R&D group at Synopsys. During his career he completed over 2000 projects with over 500 companies and authored a myriad of both peer reviewed papers and conference proceedings in optical system design. He also collected what is one of the largest collections of rare optics texts in the world. Dr. Kevin Thompson was honored with the prestigious A.E. Conrady award from SPIE in 2013 for his work on Nodal Aberration Theory and development of design theories and tools for rotationally non-symmetric systems.

He entered the field of optics guided by his interest in astronomy and his dual major in physics and astrophysics as an undergraduate. Creating better astronomical instruments was one of his quests. Many regarded him as a scientist always willing to invest his time helping with a difficult problem or challenge, such as the servicing mission of the Hubble telescope. He received the 2015 NASA Hubble 25th Anniversary commendation for his contributions that rival the best that NASA has achieved in innovation and overcoming challenges.

He was a collector not only of rare books, but also exceptional people and known throughout optics for the personal touch he put on projects. He was a philanthropist with a focus on optics education, nature conservation, and the arts. As a long term servant to public education, he received the 2015 Alumni award from the University of Arizona College of Optical Science, his alma mater in optics. Dr. Kevin Thompson served from 2009 to 2015 as a research scientist at the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester, mentoring undergraduate and graduate students alike on optical system design and metrology related projects.

The Kevin P. Thompson prize is to be awarded to a deserving undergraduate student who best exemplifies Kevins qualities. These include his passion for astronomy and optical systems design, generosity, and appreciation for the history and great minds who came before him. The prize is to be awarded at most once per year and will consist of one historical optics ebook furnished by Dr. Jannick Rolland (Jannick Rolland Thompson in her personal life) who survives Kevin, as well as a donation of $250 graciously provided by Synopsys, his last employer.