University of Rochester

Joseph H. Eberly to be Honored by the Optical Society

May 10, 2012

Joseph H. Eberly, the Andrew Carnegie Professor of Physics and professor of optics at the University of Rochester, has been named the winner of the Optical Society's 2012 Distinguished Service Award.

Eberly is being honored for outstanding service as founding editor of the groundbreaking journal Optics Express, leadership while serving as president, and his deep commitment in serving the Optical Society (OSA), according to Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Rogan.

OSA considered entering the field of electronic publishing in the mid 1990s with an open bulletin board. Eberly advocated, instead, developing a real journal at a time when no electronic journals existed in any field.

"I was put in charge of the project," said Eberly. "It was my penalty for speaking out in the general meeting."

Even though Optics Express was not intended to appear in print, Eberly insisted that it look and behave like a traditional journal, which included being published on a regular schedule and with standard volume and page numbers. Eberly's efforts paid off when the first issue was published on July 7, 1997. It was the first peer-reviewed "open access" journal in the sciences, freely available to anyone, anywhere in the world, with an Internet connection.

"There were very few articles in the first year, but the journal worked well enough for two years," said Eberly. "It gradually attracted readers and authors because of its rapid peer review schedule, and then slowly began to take off. Now it publishes 3,000 articles and nearly 30,000 pages a year, and the number of copycat journals is hard to keep track of."

Eberly is a fellow of the Optical Society and the American Physical Society, and is past-president of the Optical Society. He's received the Senior Alexander von Humboldt Award, the Distinguished Alumnus Award of the Penn State College of Science, the Smoluchowski Medal of the Physical Society of Poland, the Charles Hard Townes Award of the Optical Society of America, the Goergen Award for Creative Innovation in Undergraduate Teaching of the University of Rochester, and the Frederick Ives Medal of OSA.

Eberly joined the physics faculty at the University of Rochester in 1967 and, 12 years later, was given a second appointment in the Institute of Optics. His theoretical research focuses on quantum entanglement and the response of atoms to very short high-intensity laser pulses.