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Harold Metcalf

Harold Metcalf

Stony Brook University Professor Harold Metcalf has been selected as the Optica (formerly OSA), Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide 2023 recipient of the Esther Hoffman Beller Medal. Metcalf, a distinguished teaching professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences, is being honored for outstanding mentorship of undergraduate students in hands-on optics research and for organizing an annual symposium for students to present their work during the Frontier in Optics/Laser Science (FiO/LS) conference.

The Beller Medal is presented for outstanding contributions to education in optical science and engineering. Consideration is given to the recipient’s outstanding teaching and/or original work in optics education that enhances the understanding of optics. The scope of the award is international, and candidates at every career stage are considered. It is endowed by a bequest from the estate of Esther Hoffman Beller.

“My sincere congratulations to Hal on this momentous achievement,” said Nicole S. Sampson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and distinguished professor of chemistry. “His dedication to education – from mentorship of students from the high school to graduate level – in addition to his decades-long committment to advancements in optical science, are testament to the promience and recognition of our Physics and Astronomy program at Stony Brook. We are fortunate to have him among our faculty.”

Metcalf was recognized by Optica for being “a dedicated educator and mentor. He created the Laser Teaching Center (LTC) at Stony Brook University, which provides inquiry- and project-based active learning for students from high school to the graduate level. Another of his significant contributions to education is the annual Symposium on Undergraduate Research/LS [sponsored by the Division of Laser Science (DLS) of the American Physical Society] which takes place as part of Frontiers in Optics (FiO/LS).  During the Symposium, undergraduate students present their research in oral and poster sessions and network with leading professionals in the field.

Metcalf’s research is focused on optical control of atomic motion, and he was one of the leaders in the earliest experiments of Laser Cooling and Trapping. He has published three textbooks, including “Laser Cooling and Trapping.” Metcalf has also held several visiting appointments, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); École normale supérieure (ENS) Paris, France; Utrecht University, Netherlands; University of Bonn, Germany and Beijing Institute for Modern Physics, China.

“This is a richly deserved award, as Hal is such a generous contributor to the Department and the Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics community, particularly to the younger generation,” said Chang Kee Jung, PhD, distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.  “In addition, Hal made seminal contributions to the field of laser cooling and trapping of neutral atoms. The members of our Department appreciate him greatly, and I am very proud of his accomplishments.”

Metcalf earned his Bachelor’s degree in physics from MIT and his PhD in physics from Brown University. He was a postdoc at Stony Brook University before joining their faculty. Metcalf is a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, and is a Fellow of Optica and the American Physical Society.