Published March 14, 2016
UB researcher and inventor Paras Prasad has been named the 2016 recipient of the Gold Medal of the SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.
The award, the society’s highest honor, is awarded to just one individual each year. It will be presented to Prasad this August in recognition of his “numerous, world renowned, pioneering contributions to nonlinear optics, nanophotonics and biophotonics, as well as over three decades of outstanding service to SPIE.”
At UB, Prasad serves as executive director of the Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics (ILPB). He is a SUNY Distinguished Professor in the departments of Chemistry, Physics, Medicine and Electrical Engineering.
Optics and photonics are branches of science that involve the study of and the manipulation of light. Among many other achievements, Prasad was an early pioneer in the field of light-based nanomedicine, which involves using tiny, light-activated particles for diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of disease.
He has worked with colleagues to develop or study a wide range of new materials that could advance technology in health care and other fields, ultimately improving lives around the world. These novel materials include miniature luminescent crystals that could be used in image-guided surgery, light-activated particles that could enable the development of new bioimaging technologies for disease detection, and onion-like nanoparticles whose specially designed layers could convert invisible near-infrared light to higher energy blue and UV light efficiently, a trick that could improve the performance of technologies ranging from deep-tissue imaging and light-induced therapy to security inks used for printing money.
In the early 2000s, Prasad authored “Nanophotonics,” one of the first books to provide an in-depth discussion of what was then an emerging field. He remains one of the world’s pre-eminent thinkers in this discipline.
“The SPIE Gold Medal is a prestigious international honor. It is a much-deserved recognition for Dr. Prasad, who has made profound contributions to the fields of optics and photonics over many years,” said President Satish K. Tripathi. “In shaping the fields of nanophotonics, nanomedicine and biophotonics, he helped to open up a critical new frontier in science and technology. Those are truly seminal contributions that have life-changing implications, from cancer treatment and drug delivery to imaging and information storage.”
In addition to conducting research, Prasad has mentored numerous students and researchers in the fields of optics and photonics. Notably, he helped guide the work of one UB postdoctoral researcher who went on to found a UB spinoff company in Europe that raised $14.2 million euros in an initial public offering in 2012.
A prolific inventor and researcher, Prasad has received numerous regional, national and international awards for his lifetime achievements.
Of note, he is a recipient of the prestigious Sloan and Guggenheim fellowships. In 2005, was named one of the “Scientific American 50,” the magazine’s list of “visionaries from the worlds of research, industry and politics whose recent accomplishments point toward a brighter technological future for everyone.”
Recently, Prasad received an Honoris Causa Doctor from the Aix-Marseille University in France, as well as an honorary doctorate from the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden (KTH) for his pioneering work in areas including the use of light-based technologies to address important, global health problems.
In 2015, he was named the inaugural winner of UB’s Innovation Impact Award.
Prasad has published more than 700 scientific papers, edited eight books, published four monographs and been named the inventor or co-inventor on numerous patents.
He will travel to San Diego to receive the SPIE Gold Medal on Aug. 31 during the SPIE Awards Banquet, held in conjunction with the SPIE’s Optics + Photonics Symposium that week.