Steven Jacques: The 2020 SPIE Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award
Steven Jacques, an affiliate professor in the University of Washington's Department of Bioengineering, is one of the founders of biomedical optics. He understood early on the need for quantitative approaches in biomedical applications and, together with his team, developed models of light transfer in biological media that are considered the standards today. His paper on Monte Carlo modeling of light transport in multi-layered tissues has been cited more than 3,400 times. He was also an early developer of non-invasive biomedical systems: his BiliCheck, which measures jaundice in newborns, is now routinely used in neonatal care.
An SPIE Fellow, Jacques has been teaching the short course on tissue optics at SPIE Photonics West since the early 1990s. In December of 2018, SPIE's Journal of Biomedical Optics published a collection of research papers in honor of Jacques and his pioneering role in the field.
"For Steve, his work is not work, but rather a journey through great expanses of intellectual space, driven by the sheer thrill of discovery," notes Daniel Gareau, instructor in clinical investigation at the Rockefeller University, and founder and president of biotech startup SurgiVance. "Steve's brightness derives from the fact that he likes and is good at finding mysteries — things that just don't look right or are incomplete — and then methodically investigating with infectious curiosity and intensity that lead to a high rate of problem-solving. One of my favorite things about Steve is that although he often invents new solutions, he also doesn't mind re-inventing the wheel, because in doing so, he will then own that wheel, and chuckle as he tucks it away in his toolbox. Imagine what biophotonics would be like if Steve had not worked with Scott Prahl to develop Monte Carlo modeling for tissue optics. Imagine what our field would look like without Lihong Wang, let alone without all of Steve's other students, myself included."