University of Rochester

Entrepreneurial Scientist Honored with Optical Engineering's Top Honor

February 15, 2006

Duncan Moore, the Rudolf and Hilda Kingslake Professor of Optical Engineering at the University of Rochester, has won the International Society for Optical Engineering's (SPIE) Gold Medal award. The medal is the highest honor SPIE bestows. It is presented annually in recognition of outstanding engineering or scientific accomplishments that have proven pivotal to the progress of optics.

"It is highly appropriate that SPIE should choose to honor Duncan Moore with this prize," says Wayne Knox, director of the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester. "He is a consummate leader and educator in the field of optical engineering, and exemplifies the innovation and entrepreneurial leadership that are characteristic of many of our graduates."

Moore won the honor for his innovative research in gradient-index, or GRIN, lenses. GRIN systems use a special type of lens that mimics the way insect eyes work and allows light to travel in curved paths. Tiny GRIN lenses often take the place of much bigger conventional lenses and have made possible desk-top copiers and fax machines.

In 1980, Moore founded his own company, Gradient Lens Corp., to commercialize the technology. He has received several prizes for his research and business accomplishments, including the Greater Rochester Metro Chamber of Commerce Science and Technology Award, a research award from the Japanese Applied Physics Society, and the Distinguished Inventor Award from the Rochester Intellectual Property Law Association, Inc.

Moore earned his master's and doctorate degrees from the Institute of Optics at the University in 1970 and 1974, respectively, and his theses were on gradient-index optics. He is the former dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, as well as the former director of the Institute of Optics, and former president of the Optical Society of America. An optical engineer and businessman who is an internationally recognized expert on lens design, Moore has held several highly prominent national administrative posts.

In 1994, Moore served as science and technology advisor to U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. At that time, Rockefeller was chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Science, and Moore helped draft legislation on several science and technology issues. From 1997 to 2001, he served as associate director for technology in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for the Clinton Administration, where he worked on the next-generation Internet, the Clean Car Initiative, and new construction materials for NASA. From 2002 to 2004, he served as president and chief executive officer of the Infotonics Technology Center, Inc., an industry, academia, and government partnership to foster cutting-edge research.

The award will be presented to Moore at the SPIE Awards Banquet in San Diego, Calif., on Aug. 16. More information can be found at