In Memoriam: Byoungho Lee

09 November 2022
Karen Thomas
Byoungho Lee of Seoul National University, passed away on 7 November 2022

SPIE Fellow and Board Member Byoungho Lee passed away on 7 November 2022. Since 1994, he was a professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Seoul National University (SNU). Lee also served as dean of the Engineering College and head of the Optical Engineering and Quantum Electronics Lab (QEQELAB) at SNU. His research fields included 3D displays and nanophotonics.

He was also a Fellow of the Korean Academy of Science and Technology and a Senior Member of the National Academy of Engineering of Korea. He served as president of the Optical Society of Korea in 2019, and as president of the Korean Information Display Society in 2021.

Byongho Lee and students in QEQELAB

Byoungho Lee, front row, center, and students in the Optical Engineering and Quantum Electronics Lab at Seoul National University.

Lee was born in Seoul, Korea, in 1964, the second of three brothers. After attending Daekwang High School, he received his Bachelor’s (1987) and Master’s (1989) degrees in electrical engineering from SNU. He completed his PhD in electrical engineering and computer science at University of California, Berkeley, in 1993. After joining the faculty at SNU in 1994, he conducted pioneering research on optical information processing, fiber sensors, digital holography, 3D displays, metasurfaces, and AR devices.

A long-time member of SPIE, Lee became a Fellow in 2002. Throughout his time with SPIE he served on conference committees for several SPIE symposia, including Photonics West, Optics + Photonics, SPIE/COS Photonics Asia, Nano+Micro Materials, Devices, and Applications, Digital Optical Technologies, and Nanophotonics Australasia. As part of these events, Lee authored and co-authored more than 200 proceedings papers in the SPIE Digital Library. He served on the SPIE Board of Directors (2020–2022), the Nominating Committee (2020), and the Engineering, Science, and Technology Policy (ESTeP) Committee (2005-2006).

Byoungho Lee, front row, fourth from right, at an inter-society meeting at SPIE Photonics West in 2019. Back row: Thomas Südmeyer, European Optical Society; Andrew Brown, SPIE; Ignacio Moreno Soriano, Sociedad Española de Óptica and European Optical Society; Daniel Dolfi, La Société Française d’Optique; Maryellen Giger, SPIE; Jim Oschmann, SPIE; Kent Rochford, SPIE; Douglas Razzano, IEEE Photonics Society; John Harvey, Australian Optical Society; Liz Rogan, The Optical Society. Front row: Yan Li, Chinese Optical Society; Maria Yzuel, Sociedad Española de Óptica; Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop, Australian Optical Society; Małgorzata Kujawińska, Photonics Society of Poland; Jang Sun Kim, Optical Society of Korea; and Xu Liu, Chinese Optical Society.

Lee received numerous awards for his work including the 5th Young Scientist Award (2002), Scientist of the Month Award (2009), an Excellence in Research award from SNU (2013), an Outstanding Editor Award from Light, Science, & Applications (2014), a Special Recognition Award from the Society for Information Display (2015), and the ‘Jin-Bo-Jang’ National Badge of Science of Korea (2016). In 2014, Lee was inducted into the Holoknights as “Byoungho of Seoul.” The group was formed in 1988 to bring together as friends the top researchers in the field of holography.

In 2014, Lee was inducted into the Holoknights as Byoungho of Seoul

Byoungho Lee being inducted into the Holoknights as "Byoungho of Seoul." Credit: Wolfgang Osten (aka "Wolfgang of Berlin")

In a recent interview with Light, Science, & Applications, Lee was asked, “What advice do you have for young researchers?” His response? “Dr. Dennis Gabor, who was the inventor of the concept of holography, said, ‘The future cannot be predicted, but futures can be invented.’ This wording was modified later by several other people. For example, Alan Kay said, ‘The best way to predict the future is to invent it.’ Some people can achieve great performance that affects the society much, while some do not. The attitude of enjoying your work, hoping you will make something very advantageous for human beings, is good enough for your research life. And the attitude of thinking big is also important for the growth as a scientist, engineer, or academician.”

Professor Lee will be dearly missed by many within the scientific community.

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